Medium Format vs. Full Frame Locked

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OP thebbqguy Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Fujifilm 690s

Chris Dodkin wrote:

I shoot with a pair of Fujifilm 690s - also known as Texas Leicas, so can give you some first hand experience.

As you can see, there's a strong family resemblance between the latest GFX50R model and the legacy film models - this is something I appreciate, as Fujifilm have developed the design over decades, and then brought it into the current market with the new digital model.

I shoot the model II versions of the series

The GW690 II...

... and the GSW690II.

Both are fixed lens, fully manual cameras, with no metering, AF, or any electronics what so ever.

They are leaf-shutter, rangefinder cameras, and take 120/220 film.

Fuji originally did an interchangeable lens model, the GL690, with a selection of lenses - but found that people typically bought one of two focal lengths from the series, so moved to fixed lens models for the following range of cameras.

My GSW690II has a fixed 65mm f/5.6 lens, my GW690 II has a fixed 90mm f/3.5 lens.

There are three generations of 690 cameras:

Generation I is the most basic, with no hot-shoe, just a cold-shoe for accessory mounting. The shutter lacks a B setting and instead only has T. The rangefinder spot is round rather than the later rectangular.

Construction is metal, solid, and built-to last.

Generation II was released in 1985. The accessory shoe is upgraded to a hot-shoe, the shutter release now has a lock, and the grip is checked rather than ribbed. The II models weigh a little more than the series I.

Same metal construction, same optics.

Generation III was released in 1992, and has a redesigned molded 'plastic' exterior, with rubberized coating for grip. The camera is still metal, just the moulding overlay is plastic. There is a spirit level embedded in the top for left-right leveling.

They have a new VF/RF mechanism. The older gold-coated beamsplitter system is replaced by a new vernier (Leica-style) hard-edged rectangular spot on an aluminized beamsplitter. Brightness is increased but VF-RF spot contrast is reduced.

The III series sells for more than the II, or I.

All models have a device at the bottom of the camera that counts multiples of ten shots — up to 999, and then, like a car odometer, rolls over at 000

It is a shutter service reminder.

Different people have different numbers for recommended servicing - shutter life was initially stated at 10,000 actuations.

NOTE - it is easy to 'tamper' with the shutter odometer, so they are not generally to be trusted when buying.

I have found the series II to be the best bang for the buck - they are easy to use, and their simple construction and lack of electronics usually bode well for the new owner.

You'll need a light meter, or exposure guide, or experience, to set the desired exposure. Focus via the rangefinder is easy enough to master, and the Fuji optics provide excellent images on 120 or 220 film.

The camera is easy to carry and shoot, so makes a great street, architecture, walk about or landscape model to use. Film loading, advance, recovery is easy and trouble free.

I think these cameras provide a great intro into 120 film shooting, are robust enough to perform decades later without the need for major overhaul, and are most importantly enjoyable to use.

Plenty for sale online - I bought mine from Japan, and they were in mint condition, and have continued to perform flawlessly for a decade or so.

Prices range from $300-$500 for the models. So you can buy a pair for less than the cost of a single GFX lens.

Interesting article about version III:

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I learned a long time ago to stop trying to do what others do, because they're good at it. -- Do what you're good at. (B.B. King)

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