Former owner of a GA645W and 645Zi here. Loved them both. I have loved pretty much all of the Fujis my hands have touched. I wound up getting a pair of mamiya 6es for the sake of interchangeable lenses and the square format, but I still miss the Fujis from time to time.
It's basically moot in my way of thinking; these cameras have rather contrasty EBC lenses that you wouldnt want for standard portraiture anyway. Their strong suit is scenic (street, landscape etc), not portraiture. The bokeh isn't awful, but I would just say that the contrast and the bokeh and the relative slowness of the lenses combine to make something that I didn't care to use for headshots. For most other subjects the bokeh is hardly noticeable.
1) How is the bokeh? I don't care so much for sharpness but I do care about bokeh. I don't like very harsh bokeh. From browsing through flickr, it seems that the Mamiya has the best bokeh, but that also depends on the subject and photographer..
I *love* the orientation in the Fujis! I really liked it. I don't understand why all the other 645s have horizontal orientation- everybody tells me the format was invented for wedding stuff and that's why it's usually landscape (to get groups of people). Maybe it's just me but I find vertical format much more useful for scenic stuff and most walk-around photography.
2) How is the handling? I prefer landscape orientation. Do you users find the native vertical orientation annoying? This is probably more of a personal question.
Hmm I didn't know it was that low. I haven't heard of any shutter issues.
3) How is the shutter life? I've heard that the 6x7/6x9 rangefinder shutter life is low (500 rolls?), is this the same for 645 rangefinders? Is there anyone in the US that services them? Essex?
They might feel plasticky but they are very solid. Very well made.
4) How is the durability? I've heard that these cameras are very plasticy.
The AF is noisy in the GA645Zi. It was a bit humorous, I mean you really hear it. But on the other hand it worked very well. I even used it for closeup sports shots.
5) How is the auto-focus? I don't care for autofocus, but it seems that it's the better option if I want a 45mm because the GS645W is scalepfocus and with a slower lens.
The VFs are fine. Nothing spectacular but totally fine.
6) How is the rangefinder/viewfinder? Is it decent? I have some 120 folders (S. Ikonta III and S. Isolette) and those, to me, are pretty good or atleast better than what I expected. Would I expect the Fuji RF's to be comparable? I've heard that they aren't that great.
I don't remember any shutter noise. I do remember AF noise
As I implied, I think these cameras have a great place in scenic / travel/ documentary / landscape photography. The contrast lends to the feeling of great sharpness and wonderful detail. these cameras produce gorgeous slides, by the way. Would I use 'em for portraiture with creamy backgrounds? Nah. But doesn't the world have enough of those shots??!
8) Anything else I should know?
Overall, the Fujis are really fun to use. I would consider getting one. I guess I found the 645W the most useful overall. The Zi was fun but the zoom range isn't large. But in any case these are really fun cameras and, in my experience, super reliable. Buy two!
I was looking at the GA645zi. Which Rolleiflex do you prefer, I'm not familiar with the Rollei line of camera other than the 66 SL.
Originally Posted by munz6869
Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand
In July, I travelled around Iceland, The Netherlands & Switzerland, and dragged along a 4x5" kit, GA645zi & a Rolleiflex EV MX (the mid 50's one with the Tessar f/3.5 lens) - I used the 4x5" as much as I ever do, but I found, given the choice between two MF cameras - I used the Fuji when I knew I wouldn't have time to ponder photos, and when I was feeling lazy. It's a fine camera, but for urban travel photography, and simply feeling like I am crafting the picture, rather than the electronics, I still love the Rolleiflex more, and as a waist level camera, people and animals never seem intimidated by it...! The 6x6 negs give me more printing scope later on too.
All that said, I am thinking about taking a 6x8cm rangefinder next time (crazy!!)
I bought a GW690II and was almost afraid of firing it - based on anecdotal evidence from the net. But I was pleasantly surprised, not much sound at all. The counter does count so it probably makes as much noise as it should. Ok, it is not just a whisper as with the GA645Zi but my Mamiya 645 is louder.
Originally Posted by rich815
In case you're interested I just listed a GA645 in excellent condition on the classifieds. Comes with a bunch of extras. Very low shutter count (400). Please PM me if you are interested.
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I have a 645GA. Image quality is great in my opinion; it is very portable, and exceedingly automatic. If these things are important, then it would be a nice fit for you. It is probably one of the louder medium format cameras you can find, but not on the level of a Pentax 67 or similarly loud body. Basically, it's a great travel medium format camera in my view.
I have a much loved Fuji GS645S With a crash bar, I have taken this camera to the USA, it traveled from NY to LA, takes Very Sharp images, Put in some nice slide film and WOW !!! they are nice. I also took it to India and back no problems....Every image is sharp this camera is one of the most reliable one I have Ever owned. The Light Meter battery has been changed once or twice , that is all I have ever had to do.
Cons:- You have one lens 60mm wide, the light meter does not meter through the lens, you need to allow for it when you use a filter.
I always take good care of my cameras, I have not managed to damage, the lens mount or any thing else.
The GS645S is a very good camera it is fully manual, does not need batterys to work, I have no problem recomending one.
I just posted a pretty complete overview of my GA645Zi on YouTube. Unfortunately, I wasn't smart enough to fire the shutter in the video. The camera is noisy, IMO (autofocus noise, zoom noise, autowind noise), but that is the cost of all that automation. It's a very convenient and relatively compact camera, IMO.