Fuji GSW690

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by rick_helmke|2, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. Evening all,
    What are the prevailing opinions on the Fuji GS690 series of camera? Specifically the one with the 90mm lens, not the wide version with the 65. I'm looking around for something quiet but that will provide a big negative to print from. I saw KEH had one at a a good price but waited a bit too long and someone bought it. Several are on the Bay but all are in Japan (mostly) or Germany. Prices aren't bad but I don't want to deal with a foreign seller in an auction. Anyway what does anyone think of this camera? It apparently has some sort of inspection to be carried out after 5000 frames and a counter to keep up. Is the glass good? Is it well designed or does it get in the way? For a carry around MF camera for me it is either this or a Pentax 67 and I sort of like this better. Just wondered if it had many know problems or faults. Thanks for any insight on this rig.

    Rick H.
  2. I had one and it was fantastic! And then a freelance assistant dropped it and as Fuji had stopped making them I couldn't
    get it repaired and sold it for parts. :-(
  3. I have the Pentax 67 and the GW670III Pro, sibling of the 690. They are both big but there's a big difference! I found it very easy to become fond of the Pentax (I have 4 of them...) and not so fond of the Fuji, perhaps just a matter of personal preference. Note that the Fuji is not the quiet leaf-shutter rig you might expect, as the counter you mention makes a clack noise when the shutter trips it.
    Frank Marshman at Camera Wiz, an expert with Fuji rangefinder said the shutter lasts hundreds of thousands of rounds, so the suggestion for service every 500 on the shot counter (=5000 clicks) is flexible depending on level of future use... and these cameras are well-known for irregular frame spacing, said to check that the roller at the right of the film gate spins freely.
  4. The GW690 is a big camera, but not too heavy - and the two shutter release buttons make it easy to
    shoot in either horizontal or vertical orientation. The lens is a beauty and that 6x9 frame captures a *lot*
    of detail. As Doug mentioned, it isn't all that quiet in operation - unfortunately the loud snap that
    accompanies the shutter firing isn't from the shot counter, and so isn't something that can be simply

    As a walkabout camera it's fine, and it can be hung vertically on a shoulder strap which keeps it handy
    but out of the way.
  5. I had a GW690III until I gave up on MF film. Lens was very good, it took a little practice to get the film to wind tightly onto the takeup spool. Twin shutter releases a nice touch, pushing the lower one in towards your face makes for less vibration than using the top release. "T" setting of shutter a pain - shutter can be closed once open on "T" only by winding film or turning speed dial - why not just provide a "B" setting? The noise on taking a picture I think was the double-exposure prevention mechanism rather than the shutter itself, but it is rather loud (for a leaf shutter). I shot numbers of the beach pictures in my PN portfolio with the Fuji, used an RB67 for others, I find the optical performance of the 2 cameras indistinguishable.
  6. I understood that the noise is from the counter. I have the GSW690III but have also owned and used at one point the 90mm model in both 6x9 and 6x7 formats. The noise is a bit of a problem, but it depends upon the level of ambient noise (pervasive except in churches or monasteries). The spirit level is a nice touch. The optics are very fine, combining a good mix of high resolution and contrast. Overall, great cameras and Q/P ratios as long as you don't need interchangeables lenses. Not heavy fore the negative size and the polycarbonate (or whatever) outside body makes shooting in warm or cold temperatures agreeable. Just be careful in handling, the case (especially the base can crack if manhandled) can be damaged with really rough treatment,, but I have had few problems over 10 years and if exercised regularly (once a month) the shutter keeps going on, and quite accurately. The RF is not the brightest patch but normally quite visible. 90mm means a fairly limited depth of field, which is partly why I lie the 65mm lens (roughly 28 mm equivalent in 35).
  7. I loved that camera. Great for double pages and with the 90mm it felt you're immersed into the image, like a 35mm on a Leica M. I think nothing beats this one. As mentioned it needs a bit of careful handling, but otherwise, it's reallyjust like a massive M6. Oh, i also had a body converted with a Pola back, great in the times when we shot mixed strobe/ambient light, which was fantastic due to the central shutter and short sync times. I faintly remember the counter thing, but i'd say shoot and if anything is funny send it to Nippon Photo and have them check it out. It's a simple a mechanical camera. Otherwise, i don't think it compares at all to the Pentax 67, which in some aspects is a bit more versatile, but always felt somewhat how hum...then again, Bruce Weber shoots with it all the time an these photographs are brilliant..
  8. Thanks for all of this input, I appreciate it. Next one I find in the $400-600 range for sale in this country I think I will buy.

    Rick H.
  9. The Pentax 67 is just so underrated. The bodies had issues but the lenses were amazing -easily equal to the equivalent
    Zeiss lenses and a larger format to boot.
  10. Someone once said: You buy the phenomenal Fuji lens, and Fuji throws in a film holder.
    The famous Fuji lenses are hard to beat. Usually I use my Arca with a 6x9 roll film back with a couple of Rodenstock and Nikon lenses. But when I need high resolution, tiny details, sharpness and contrast, I use one of my Fujis (GW 690 III and GSW 690 III).
    I still prefer film for my business.
    Check out this video, where Martin Schoeller shoots with his Fuji 690:

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