Fuji GA645 Review: (5 Reasons to Buy!)(+User Guide)

Fuji GA645 Review: (5 Reasons to Buy!)(+User Guide)

Looking for a super compact medium format camera?  I was too!  That’s why I bought a Fuji 645 format Fujifilm GA645 Pro.  Here I detail pros, cons, reasons to buy, portraits, user experience and anything else that came to mind!  It also include a mini Fuji GA645 user guide + video.

Miss Universe Hungary 2015

(Fuji GA645 + 120 Fomapan 100@400, 1/30, f4) – Budapest

The Fuji GA645 is like a  noisy ugly slightly overfed Leica!.. but it’s good!  The Fujion 60mm f4 lens is crazy sharp!  The GA645 is a medium format point and shoot camera so you have no excuse for a bad picture!

Fuji GA645 camera - medium format film camera 645

Fuji GA645 Professional – Compact Medium Format Camera

The latest addition to my camera bag – a 20 year old Fujifilm GA645 Pro compact medium format film camera.  Released in 1995, the Fuji GA645 Professional is a 6×4.5 format autofocus medium format film camera. The GA645 is fitted with a fixed lens, a Super EBC Fujinon 60mm f4 with a minimum focus distance of 0.7m.  The camera has a leaf shutter lens that operates at upto 1/400 with apertures of f4-f9.5 and at 1/700 with apertures of f11-f22.  The camera takes photos in a portrait orientation when held in the standard horizontal position.  The GA645 has a pop-up flash, LCD display for camera settings, autofocus, auto film advance and auto rewind, auto exposure with centre weighted metering and imprinted data of camera settings onto the film.

Basically the Fuji GA645 is a heavyweight medium format point and shoot camera!

For anyone that has followed me for a while might be thinking, the list above is everything I said I don’t like in a camera.  For example I sold the Contax 645 as I said it was too ‘DSLR like’ and too automated.  That was almost 2 years ago.

So why did I buy a Fuji GA645?

I am still in search of my holy grail camera.  As my photography matures my desires list changes.  In the past I would be attracted to the fastest lenses with the most shallow depth of field possible.  For example the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 lens.  I did not consider camera size, the film format, the speed of the camera use, the reliability and to an extent the cost if it was of good quality.

Today the most important aspects of a camera for me are compact size, maximum resolution, sharp lens, speed of use and reliability.  Tomorrow this may change.

New camera arrives! :) a 1995 #fujiga645 #mediumformat #filmcamera #ilovefilm #ishootfilm #filmrocks #filmisnotdead #645 www.MrLeica.com

5 Reasons why you should buy a Fuji GA645!?

1. Compact camera

Leica cameras are compact hence I love them but I want a larger negative for maximum resolution in an image.

2. Maximum resolution / 645 film format

The Mamiya RZ67 Pro II 6×7 and Rolleiflex SL66E 6×6 have sharp lenses but they are too big to take on my trips overseas.  The Fuji GF670 is a folding 6×6/6×7 camera so is compact but I wanted 645 film format.  To me the 645 format is the perfect mid ground between being 3x more resolution that a 35mm Leica film negative and giving 16 photos per roll of film vs, 50% less resolution than a 6×7 negative that only gives 10 images per roll of 120 film.

3. Sharp lens

Many of my cameras are said to have sharp lenses but when a camera has a fixed lens the lens sharpness is a must have.  The EBC Fujinon lenses are well-regarded for their sharpness even wide open. The Fuji GA645 camera has the fixed Fujinon 60mm f4 lens.

4. Speed of Use

The more I do model photography and fashion photography the more I realise that as a creative team we just don’t have time to work at a slow pace such as with my large format cameras, Pacemaker Speedgraphic and Sinar F2.  This was one reason for buying the autofocus Nikon f4 SLR 35mm film camera.  I want to shoot film but do it at the pace of a modern photo shoot.

5. Reliability

Reliability has two meanings.  The perhaps obvious one that is mechanical reliability and the camera continuing to operate as designed during a shoot.  I cannot afford to take a camera to Ukraine for a week only for it to stop working on the first day.  Luckily this did not happen but I have a growing pile of film cameras needing some attention and are therefore not suitable to take away on trips.  The second meaning and one that bugs me a little is reliable photo taking.  I might have the perfect model in the perfect setting and the image looks focused through the viewfinder yet when I get the film back it is mis-focused due to a misaligned rangefinder or other camera related issue.  My Mamiya 645 nearly always mis-focused beyond a certain distance and even up close the hit rate is not acceptable regardless of the lens.

Fuji GA645 Fashion

Useful Fujifilm GA645 Information if you buy this camera

Common Questions regarding using a Fuji GA645
  1. How to load film in a Fuji GA645?
  2. How to ensure you get 16 frames (not 15 frames per roll of 120 film)?
  3. How to make sure the camera is set to 120 film not 220 film?
  4. How to advance the film when loading the camera?
  5. What battery does a Fuji GA645 take?
  6. How can the Fuji GA645 record camera settings data directly to the film negative?
  7. What is an easy way to lock focus before you recompose your shot?
Answers
  1. See the video below.  Film is always loaded into the left side when the back of camera is open.
  2. This is key.  Watch the video and take note where the arrow is on the backing paper.  If you don’t do this you may only get 15 frames per roll (I did)
  3. Watch the video and note the back plate needs to be moved to the 120 position
  4. On the video you can see the top right dial is used to advance the film.  If the film is not tight before you close the back you might get soft focus images and only 15 frames.
  5. Fuji GA645 battery – the camera takes 2x CR123A batteries.  You need a coin or something to open the battery compartment.
  6. Ensure the Fuji GA645 LCD on the top plate reads DATA.  If not press the data button
  7. The way that works for me is half press the shutter to focus on your subject, then hold in the MF (manual focus button located under the lens), recompose, fully press the shutter button

Fuji GA645 how to load film video

(The camera in the video is a different Fujifilm camera model but for the most part it looks identical to the GA645 when loading film so you can assume it is the same).

Fuji GA645 – Recap

So to recap the Fuji GA645 is very compact considering it is a medium format camera so perfect to fit in my hand luggage.  The lens is sharp and it has autofocus and auto film advance to allow me to work quickly if needed.  The 60mm f4 lenses is roughly equal to 35mm f2.8 on a 35mm camera such as a Leica.  With my recent film photography I often stop the lenses down to perhaps f5.6 to get maximum sharpness and also try to back up more to get an environmental portrait in my location rather than a tight head shot that could have been taken in my garden or studio.  If I am to travel to these different countries I need to help myself in capturing some of the city in the photo and a 35mm lens is better suited to do this than my usual 50mm favoured lens choice.  A good example of this was my model photography workshop in Zurich where I tried to capture the model within her environment for some photos.

As mentioned I already own a Fuji GF670 camera but I prefer the older Fuji GS645 camera due to the 645 format.  I love the GS645 but the shutter often sticks so I decided to buy the more modern more automated Fuji GA645 that is a similar size and same format, but with a 60mm f4 lenses rather than the 75mm f3.4 lens.

Fuji GA645

Can you be creative with an f4 lens!?

An easy way to take a beautiful traditional portrait is to use a very shallow depth of field.  The Fuji GA645 will not give me this so it will make me work harder for my photograph.  I need to consider the background as the detail will be visible in the photo and then I need to somehow make the picture interesting without using shallow DOF.  It will make me chose my light and composition more carefully and how they interact with the model .  I think at worst an f4 aperture lens can only improve my photography and my work may benefit when I am using fast lenses on other cameras.

Time will tell

I don’t really enjoy taking photos with the Fuji GF670 as it is so quiet and soulless.  That said the photos produced can be beautiful.  In contrast the Fuji GA645 is very noisy so I just hope it is a little more engaging despite being so automated.

Fuji GA645 Camera

Size is Key – Best Medium Format Camera for Travel?

Even though I am mainly a Leica shooter when I come to pack for model photography trips in Europe I find I have to pick my very smallest Leica M lenses.  I like to take both a film camera and a digital camera.  Film photos are for me and digital to give something to the models for their time.  The Fuji GA645 is my best medium format camera for travel that I own (and I don’t know of a smaller medium format camera).  The GA645 is not much larger than a Leica camera yet gives 645 negatives! I can now take high resolution sharp in focus images of stunning models in the city they live in even when travelling light.  The Fuji GA645 is also perfect for my landscape photography when I travel by bicycle and only carry I lightweight backpack.

Fuji GA645 Portraits (More!)

Now that I have owned the Fuji GA645 Pro 645 medium format camera for a few months I thought it might be nice to share a few images!

All the following photos were taken with the Fujifilm GA645 Pro

645 Portraits:

Laura – 120 Ilford FP4+ film

Fuji GA645 Pro Portrait

Fuji GA645 Model Photography

Fuji GA645 + 120 Ilford FP4+

Fuji GA645 Model Photography

Iris – 120 Kodak Ektar 100 film

Fuji GA645 Pro Fashion

Fuji GA645

Fuji GA645 Fashion

Holly – 120 Kodak T-Max 100 film

Fuji GA645

Fujifilm GA645

Fuji GA645 + T-Max 100

Fuji GA645

Emily – Expired 120 Ilford Delta 100 film

Fujifilm GA645 Pro

Fuji GA 645 - Testing

Fuji GA645 + T-Max 100

Fuji GA645 Starburst

Fuji GA645 in Auto

Fuji 645 film camera – Thoughts so far

The Fuji GA645 is I think my smallest lighter and noisiest medium format film camera. It is super sharp wide open at f4 and can create a pleasing soft OOF background. I enjoy the portrait orientation 645 frame (vs the horizontal 645 frame of the Mamiya 645). I tend to use the Fuji GA645  camera on manual mode with autofocus. The light meter seems pretty accurate but I tend to meter myself and dial in the settings. It is the perfect camera to pack to travel when you want medium format resolution yet can’t pack a more bulky Mamiya RZ67 or perhaps Hasselblad camera. The Mamiya 645 Super as actually quite small and light. The Fuji GF670 is slightly larger and heavier than the GA645 but it does offer 6×6 and 6×7 formats.

Fuji GA645 loaded with 35mm film!

Fuji GA645 + Vision3!

Sprocket Holes

Is the Fuji GA645 a fun camera?

In my eyes the Fuji GA645 is not a ‘proper’ camera as such so there is no real emotional attachment for me. It doesn’t excite like the Hasselblad 501C, or Mamiya RZ67 / 645 Super or even the Leica M3s. The slow and noisy autofocus is not for every situation (like a wedding – I did try it!)  but it does focus accurately and get the subject in focus.

I think the Fuji GA645 is a keeper but more for when I cannot carry my other larger medium format cameras and where I want more resolution than 35mm film can capture

More 645 Film Photography –

Expired Kodak Portra 160NC

Wait! Do you have film?

After reading this article hopefully you are now ready to get out and start shooting!  Have you got film to load?  Here are some of my favourite films that I use in the Fuji GA645 for portraits.

400 speed film is better suited to medium format cameras as the lenses let in less light that many 35mm prime lenses. For example a 35mm camera 35mm* f2 lens @ISO 100 = 60mm f4 @ISO 400 on the Fuji GA645 camera (Approximately 35mm* = 60mm is closer to 37mm in 35mm terms).

Colour film:

Black and white film:

More Fuji Blog Posts

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE 
Advertisements

Fuji GS645 Review (Small Medium Format Camera)

Fuji GS645 Review (Small Medium Format Camera)

The Leica size Fujica GS645 Professional – Review
– a 6×4.5 Medium Format Folding Film Camera

Looking for a small medium format film camera!?

Here is why I bought the Fuji 645 format GS645.  I provide 8 points including camera details, 7 reasons to buy a Fujifilm GS645, sample photos, possible camera issues, the Fuji GS534W & GS645S variants + more..

fuji gs645 review

New camera! Fuji GS645 vs Leica M

My latest additional to the camera bag!  A 1983 Fuji GS 645 Pro Folder 6×4.5 film camera with a EBC Fujinon 75mm f/3.4 fixed lens. This is roughly equivalent to to 50mm f2 fixed lens on a 35mm camera such as a Leica. The GS 645 is a rangefinder camera the same as a Leica however it takes 120 film rather than 35mm film for my Leica M2.

Fuji GS645 – Small Medium Format Film Camera

One thing I like the most about Leicas are the small compact size.  I have been so spoilt by the small Leica form for 35mm film (Leica M2/ M3 etc).  When looking to get a new camera size is always an important factor for me.  When looking at buying the Fuji GS645 the main thing I was looking for was a small medium format film camera.  The Fuji GS645 folding camera design makes it one of the smallest medium format film cameras I know of.  (See link lower down to my Fuji GA645 also).  Below is a size comparison of a Leica M camera (my trusty M9!) vs the Fujica GS 645.  Pretty impressive Fuji! (Small means I will carry it more/ use it more).

Fuji gs645 review - leica vs fuji size comparison
(Left: Leica M9 + Noctilux 50mm f1 lens / Right: Fuji GS645 )

1. Why I bought a Fujifilm GS645? (More detail)

Earlier in the week I took a trip to the coast so decided to pack my 6×9 medium format Russian Moskva-5 camera. Despite being designed in the 1930s it was a real joy to use. 6×9 is a bigger format than I need and the camera does not really suit portraits so when I got home I began reading up on 6×4.5 format folders. I decided on the Fuji GS645 and here is why –

2. 7 Reasons You Should Consider a Fuji GS645!

1. Hotshoe and PC sync cable port  – meaning I can use it with flash (a must for me as I use lights a lot for my portrait photography).

2. Leaf shutter lens – giving a flash sync speed of 1/500.  This is faster than my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II (1/400) and Leica M9 (1/180) so great for me to control ambient light levels when using strobe lights.

3. Small folding rangefinder camera – Even though I love the Mamiya RZ67 it is often just too big to carry around easily as a just-in-case camera, whether on a day trip to the coast or for one of my London Photography Workshop outings. (I have tried and it was heavy! Photos to follow).  By having a small camera like a Leica that fits into a large pocket I am much more likely to take it everywhere with me.

4. Medium format 645 film – What excites me moreso is the Fuji GS645 is a 120 medium format film camera so much more detail can be captured with every photo (vs 35mm).

5. Fujion 75mm f3.4 lens – The lens is well regarded as being super sharp so can wait!

6. Good Price – The Fuji GS645 offers great value for money if you can find one for sale.

7. Manual focus Fuji 645 camera – Unlike some of it’s Fuji 645 siblings the Fuji GS645 is manul focus which I like. The Fuji GA645 is a medium format point and shoot camera which is much more automated.

fuji gs645 camera

3. Possible issues with a Fuji GS645 camera

For those of you knowing about these cameras the biggest problems that are often seen are pin holes/ light leaks appearing in the camera bellows.  This one has had the original bellows replaced by Linhof Germany.  Another common problem is a sticking shutter but the seller tells me it works fine (for now!).  The rangefinder focus system has a smaller focus patch that a Leica so is said to be less easy to focus.  The Moskva-5 rangefinder has a very basic RF and qis uite possibly out of alignment so I always used it at f8-f11 to be safe. I will see how I get on with focusing the Fuji GS645 wide open at f3.4 and also stopped. I now I have a love, and preference for focusing with a rangefinder system vs. through the lens focusing (SLR/DSLR).

fuji gs645 folding camera

Very much looking forward to her arrival!  Even though she does not have the red dot Leica badge she will be a valued addition to my camera bag and I hope also it will let me do more film which can only be a good thing!

4. Fuji GS645 Wedding!

The plan is take the Fuji GS645 to weddings for some extra film photography.  The camera is not really comparable to the Contax 645  film camera in terms of being able to create dreamy portraits due to the lens fitted (GS645 has the 75mm f3.4 lens and the Contax 645 has the amazing Zeiss 80mm f2 lens). That said I will be sure to get the best I can from the Fujica!

If you want a visual for my expectations, I would say my Leica M9 + Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 v2 images are similar to when I used a Contax 645 + 80mm f2 T lens.  The Fuji GS645 Pro will give a look more similar to my Leica M9 + Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens where the subject can look 3D yet the background can be identified and lots of detail is captured.

Medium Format Wedding

Fujica GS 645 Film Wedding

Fuji GS645 Wedding Portrait

5. Fuji GS645 Portraits

As most of my photography is portraiture I plan to use the Fuji GS645 for my model photography too.  Here are some test shots with model Roisin.  The film scans had a green colour cast but it shows what the GS645 can do.  Can’t wait to try it with B&W film!

Fuji GS645 Portrait

Fuji GS 645 + 400H

Fujica GS645

6. 645 Film Cameras – Why I use them

I enjoy 645 film cameras as they give a great balance between having much bigger negatives vs 35mm film yet more photos per roll of 120 film than 6×6 or 6×7 cameras.  (15-16 photos per roll of 120 film).  Here are the 645 cameras I use / have used:

  1. Contax 645
  2. Fuji GS645 (here!)
  3. Mamiya 645 1000S
  4. Mamiya 645 Super
  5. Fuji GA645 (x2!)
  6. Hasselblad H3D-31 + film back (645 format)
  7. Hasselblad 501C/ 500CM/ Hasselblad SWC/M + A16 Hasselblad 645 back

7. Fuji GS645W vs GS645

Another camera I have looked at but not yet tried is the Fuji GS645W.  “W” stands for wide as the Fuji GS645W camera has a Fujion 45mm f5.6 lens (fixed).   I bought the GS645 as the 75mm lens is more suited for portraits but also because the Fuji GS645 is a folding camera design whereas the Fuji GS645W is not making it bigger.  With the lens open to the elements is it also more likely to be knocked vs the GS645 where it is protected by the cover when folded.

8. Fujifilm GS645S

It is worth noting that there is also a Fujifilm GS645S varient which has a fixed 60mm f4 Fugion lens.  Again this camera design is not folding so for me the Fuji GS645 is the best of the bunch (unless you really want a wide lens).  If you want a 60mm lens it might be worth cosidering the smaller Fuji GA645 I use (linked above)(a very small medium format film camera!).

> Off Topic – 120 Film choice

For colour film photography I have always shot with Kodak Portra 16o, 400, 800 for my 35mm and 120mm cameras.  I think my taste is changing as I now prefer the colours of Fuji Pro 400H so I plan to buy a 5 pack of 400H and see how I get on.  Fuji 400H is very forgiving in tricky lighting conditions and retains highlight detail well if overexposed.  Film is good at retaining highlight detail generally however most people shoot Portra at box speed but Fuji 400H 1-2 stops over box speed to get the creamy emulsion look of skin tones.  By overexposing highlights I can exposure for the shadows for the maximum dynamic range and detail captured.  For UK weddings light levels can often be low so this might prove very useful!

Related Posts

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE