Fuji GA645 vs. Leica M6 etc.?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by claude_batmanghelidj, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. Hi all,

    Does anyone here have experience using the GA645? Is it possible, after getting used to using the camera, to be
    able to capture as much as you can with a Leica?

    I am interested to hear especially from people who have used the GA for a long time, and been able to make it
    work for them.

  2. I've never owned a Leica, used one a couple times, but it's very much like my Konica Hexar AF. The Fuji GA645 Pro 60mm that I use to own (which I sold when I got a Mamiya 7) was essentially just a larger negative format of my Konica.....save two items. One which didn't matter because I could push the film's speed further due to the larger negative and still get fine grain, detail and tonal gradation in low light situations.........and that was the maximum f/4 aperture.
    The other, was the motorized film advance was NOISY. If I used it in a quiet subway car, people heard it. On the streets it wasn't noticeable. There is a saving grace to that tho. In areas where it will be heard, you KEEP your finger on the shutterbutton, and the film won't advance. Then when you get to a place that don't matter you just lift your finger and the film advances. So, this means only one shot can be taken until you get out of the car, or the noise level in the car gets louder.....if you want to keep unnoticed, that is. Most of the time I just don't care.....but sometimes it might matter. The shutter itself is dead quiet.
    Extreme quality lens on the Fuji too.
    And yes, I could capture anything with the Fuji that I could with the Konica. But, having said that, I can pretty much capture what I want with any camera. The size of cams just doesn't seem to bother me. I just shoot and people still don't notice me doing it most of the time. I shoot unnoticed with a Mamiya C220 and a Mamiya 7, and those are big cams.....quite shutters tho.
  3. khi


    Claude- I have been using a GA645Pro for years, so maybe i can help a little. First of all, comparing the GA645 and the M6 is kind of like comparing a Hummer to a Cooper Mini. They are 2 different beasts. The M6 is a true rangefinder, it is small and quiet, where as the GA645 is not. The M6 has interchangeable lenses-the GA645 does not. The GA645 is quite large, built like a tank and very noisy. Auto focus is quite loud and the automatic film advance is loud enough to wake up the neighborhood. You are not going to be able to be sneaky with this camera-LOL. There is also a huge price difference.
    The GA645Pro is electronic. Automatic film advance etc...It has a fixed lens: 60/4 (32mm equivelant) although the Fujinon lens is razor sharp. The viewfinder on the GA645 is what Fujifilm calls "live view", in other words the view through the viewfinder is always in focus. There is no focusing patch. There are crosshairs that you place where you want to focus and that is it. The GA645 does have manual exposure and manual focus-but the manual focus takes some getting used to-certainly not as fast or easy as the M6. To be quite honest, if you want to use the GA645 on the street-you would probably resort to autofocus. The auto focus is surprisingly accurate. The GA645 is, of course, medium format and the large negatives are wonderful.
    Is it possible, after getting used to using the camera, to be able to capture as much as you can with a Leica? Im not sure I understand your question. I think that how "much" you can capture with the GA645 (or the M6 for that matter) depends more on YOU as a photographer than anything else. I mean, it is the photographer, (IMHO) not the camera. If you get used to the GA645 you can do good things with it.
    I have used my GA645 in many situations without any problems-again, be forewarned that everyone within 15 feet is going to know you just took a picture tho.
    I humbly submit a few samples so that you can get an idea.
  4. Well, Keith, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand photo.net posts...
  5. Keith, what I was thinking, with my question, was based on my experience shooting an M. The M, quite honestly, allowed me to capture things that are not possible with any other camera. The M interface is basically perfect. I agree it is about the photographer, but my experience with the M has been that it is a camera that does what I want, as opposed to many camera designs that force you to adapt to the camera... if that makes any sense..
  6. Now there is an issue not touched so far: resolution of 35mm film versus MF film. Admitted the 645 only uses the smallest MF film area. But that resolution question is in favor of the 645.
    So it is a see-saw what you want here: more, sharper information or more stealth.
  7. it


    What do you need, big neg or fast lenses?
  8. khi


    Claude-I see what you mean. Shooting with the GA645 is not at all like the M6. That would be your biggest dilemma then, because you will have to adapt your "method" with the GA645-that is the nature of the beast. If you can adapt yourself, as I said you can get some very nice results.
  9. In my experience, it's the photographer- yes, and they're still going to be my photographs no matter what. Thing is each camera design generally lends itself to or ends up having a different look than another, depending on a number of factors.
  10. The closest Fuji you'll get is the GS645 with the 75mm f/3.4 lens. It is a true rangefinder folding camera with framelines that compensate for both parallax and field of view like the old Konica S-2. The meter is much like the Nikon FM series with three diodes. The lens is amazingly sharp and better than most Leica lenses. The lens is not interchangable. If you want interchangabiltity, consider the Mamiya RF system like the Mamiya 7. Very Leica-like in the RF design.
  11. If you're not totally wedded to film, you might also consider the M8- better resolution and sharpness with faster shutter speeds than the M6. Good ones can be had now for around $2500- and you'd be able to use your M6 lenses with it.
  12. If you're a Leica user, you may find the Bronica RF645, Mamiya 7, Plaubel Makina, Fuki GS690 variants (the 'Texas Leicas') or one of any number of folding rangefinders closer to your way of working. This doesn't in any was diminish the utility of the Fuji GS645, and apart from the folders most of these are more expensive, but just in terms of how you shoot. As someone above put it, GS645 (and similar) is more akin to Hexar AF, the others here more like bigger Leicas, the folders somewhere between in terms of size but different handling.
  13. the GA645 handles most like a medium format Contax G1:
    -both have noisy autofocus and film advance (the 645 has a very quiet electronic shutter though)
    -both camera lenses return to infinity once you remove your finger from the half-pressed position
    -there is no visual confirmation of proper focus lock other than the distance LED
    -both cameras have very accurate meters
  14. the Bronica RF645, Mamiya 7, Plaubel Makina, Fuki GS690 variants​
    I have used all the above except the Plaubel Makina. I have also shot Leica Ms (M2, 3, 4, 6 & 7) for 26 years. But I have not tried the GA645. I have also owned and used Hasselblads (several versions) and Rolleiflexes.
    After using them all, I settled on the Mamiya 7 and the M7.
    I kept the Leica M7 because I just couldn't bear to be without a Leica. I kept the Mamiya 7 because it allows interchangeable lenses, has a large 6 x 7 format which is rectangular (very important for maximum use of film area), and the lenses are all great. The only problem I have is with the 150mm which I found difficult to focus with the Mamiya 7's range finder. But when it is in focus, it also gives great images.
    I have also owned and used 2 Fuji 690's (the normal lens and the wide angle lens versions), but I found them to be too big and heavy, and there was no meter. The images are great, but not greater than the Mamiya 7. I originally wanted to keep them when I really needed 6X9, but I found when I really needed larger negatives I used a 4X5 view camera. So it occupied an embarrassing position; which was why I decided not to keep them.
    This is just my own personal experience.
  15. If you're not totally wedded to film, you might also consider the M8- better resolution and sharpness with faster shutter speeds than the M6.​
    Ray, statements like that could be taken as fact by someone that doesn't know any better.
  16. What's the problem with the statement? I have both a film M and the M8, and this is my experience with respect to these two criteria. I didn't say one camera was better than the other in general.
  17. I had the GA645 years ago and sold it. I found it to be like a mirror lens: kind of cool at first, but actually pretty useless. There are much better choices available now.
  18. Claude,
    I've tried THREE different Fuji AF 6x4.5 cameras: GA645zi, GA645i, GA645. All three had AF focusing problems. But, because of the camera design, you cannot tell that you're images aren't focused accurately until you get the film back. The GA645zi was eventually calibrated by Fuji. The GA645i had a major problem with the AF module and main circuit board, and repair would have cost more than the camera, so i passed. Not sure about the third camera - i was able to return it.
    If you do go this route, get one from a source that allows a return if you test it and don't find it satisfactory. But, i would recommend another choice altogether. The Bronica RF645 is a very nice camera. I tried it after i was able to get over my 'prejudice' against Bronica equipment, and was quite happy with it. Lenses are sharp. It works just like a big Leica, and you can see that you're focusing it. Construction and build are really nice, as opposed to the Fujis, which seem a bit toylike at times.
    I would also recommend sticking to a film stock that you can get in 220 rolls. Changing medium format film on the fly, on the street, etc. is no fun.
  19. It seems like everything was covered above.
    The only thing that I could add is that the GA645i is noticeably quieter than the original GA645pro and what noise it does make is 'nicer'
    I like the big negatives.
    I really do wish the lens were faster though, but what can you do?
    proof sheet scan, sorry.
  20. Hi all. Many thanks for the answers. I got first three rolls of film back, and a fair number of them were out of focus. This was very disappointing. On the positive side, the camera was very cheap, about 200 bucks, like new, and with only 700 shots on the frame counter. It is also lightweight, syncs at all speeds and has the VF through which you are not shut out of the action as you are with an SLR.<P>

    I was messing around with it, and noticed that the distant readings the AF gave were often all over the place. I am wondering if it is a case of simply giving it some time. I have dumped the Contax G system for this very reason, and it would be too bad if such a promising camera had to go the same way.
  21. In general, I prefer 35mm for low light because the lenses are faster and I can get greater DOF at any particular aperture. I'm often able to use to use a slower film with 35mm which offsets the advantage of the larger MF negative. MF is great for situations where there's plenty of light.

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