Fuji GA645 Review, Comparison & Guide 2019 | 60mm f/4 | Portraits & Wedding
Fuji GA645 Review – Looking for a super compact P&S medium format camera? The 60mm f/4 fixed lens Fujifilm GA645 Pro might be for you! After buying 2 of these cameras here I cover –
- Fuji GA645 portraits
- Fuji GA645 wedding photography
- Street photography with a GA645
- 5 Reasons to buy this camera
- 5 Reasons not to buy
- Mini Fuji GA645 user guide to get started
(Fuji GA645 + 120 Fomapan 100@400, 1/30, f4) – Budapest
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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 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.
5 Reasons to buy a Fuji GA645!?
1. Compact lightweight camera
Leica cameras are compact so great to carry but if you want a larger negative size the Fuji GA645 could be for you. The GA645 is similar size to a Leica but often lighter if a Leica has a medium sized lens attached. The Fuji weighs 815g without batteries and a Leica M6 weighs 585g without lens. With the Leica lenses I use the Leica setup is usually heavier.
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 and I’ve had no complaints with the it evn up against Leica lenses.
4. Film travel photography (Medium format P&S camera!)
The Fuji GA645 is the perfect companion for travel. The camera is crazy lightweight considering it is a medium format camera and the lens retracts to make it pretty slim. Having a medium format P&S camera that you can carry easily with you all day is a real plus. The other good camera option for travel photography is the Fujifilm GA645W (aka Fuji 6x45Wide). The 60mm lens of the GA645 can sometimes be too narrow for landscapes. The Fujifilm GA645W however has a 45mm (f4) lens so is better suited for these occasions.
5. Film flash photography
Unlike a Leica film camera which has a max flash sync speed of 1/50 the Fuji GA645 can sync at 1/700! That is faster than every film camera I can think of (Mamiya 645, Hasselblad, Fuji GF670, Mamiya RZ, Mamiya 6 & 7, Kiev 88..) The only camera which I know of that is faster is a modern Hasselblad H camera with a HCD lens + film back (but that is an expensive setup!). It’s worth noting that at most apertures you can sync with a flash up to 1/400 but from f11 and up you can use 1/700. Probably more than you will even need except perhaps a beach photo shoot or snow scene shoot.
5 Reasons not to buy a Fujifilm GA645!
1. Fuji GA645 wedding photography
The Fuji GA645 is not ideal for wedding photography. It is far too slow to catch any moments and too noisy too. I did take the GA645 to a wedding but it was not practical to use in most instances. I shot a roll of Portra and then switched back to a film Leica.
2. Street photography with Fuji GA645
f you like to work quickly and quietly in stealth mode in the street don’t buy the GA645. If you are close to people they will hear it very easily. (It would work for those that like to pre-focus on a scene and wait otherwise there are better cameras.
3. 645 Portraits
If you want to buy a 645 format film camera to primarily shoot portraits maybe consider other cameras before a GA645. The GA645 is good but there are better options such as the popular Mamiya 645 or Contax 645 or the lesser known Hasselblad H Cameras. The GA645 is good for environmental style portraits (and some standard portraits) but with a fixed lens you are limited to the 60mm focal length. Personally I prefer the other cameras listed as they have interchangeable lenses so can produce a much more diverse range of portrait images.
4. User experience
Not great. If you buy and use old film cameras because of the experience of using them then don’t get a GA645. It is not fulfulling. Slow, noisy and automated doesn’t do it for me. It is the opposite to say using a Leica M3, Mamiya RZ67, Hasselblad 500 or 4×5 Camera. These cameras are all mechanical and a joy to use!
Automatic cameras are not as reliable as full manual film cameras. Being an electronic / automated film camera you are relying on the circuits not to die. My first GA645 just stopped and has never worked since. Some kind of electronic failure I was told. For this reason I prefer manual cameras (as much as possible).
Fuji GA645 camera – Pros & Cons – Recap
So to recap the Fuji GA645 is very compact considering it is a medium format film camera. Perfect to fit into hand luggage for overseas trips. The lens is sharp and it has both autofocus and manual focus. The 60mm f4 lenses is roughly equivalent to 35mm f2.8 on a 35mm camera such as a Leica. 35mm is perfect for environmental portraits on location but you can’t crop in close for tight headshots. The GA645 is too slow for some street photography and weddings but for travel it is the perfect companion. Medum format film that will fit in a handbag or large jacket outer pocket (or manbag!).
Fuji GS645 (Manual focus older Fuji model)
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. The GA645 is a similar size to the GS645, the same film format, but with a 60mm f4 lenses rather than the 75mm f3.4 lens.
Fujinon 60mm f4 lens – Can you be creative at f4?
An easy way to take a beautiful traditional portrait is to use a very shallow depth of field. Everything looks great at f1.4-f1.8 right!? The Fuji GA645 has an f4 lens so will not create these shallow depth images. I use it as a challenge and it makes me work harder for each photograph.
Benefits of shooting at f4
At f4 you need to consider the background much more as the detail will be visible in the photo. You then need to use things like light, pose and composition to create interesting photos without relying on a shallow DOF. I feel that photographing poeople with a lens at f4 can only improve my photography. Fast lenses (f1.0-F1.8) just make you lazy!
Fuji GA645 vs Fuji GF670
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 really beautiful. In contrast the Fuji GA645 is very noisy so I just hope it is a little more engaging despite being so automated.
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
Laura – 120 Ilford FP4+ film
Fuji GA645 Colour Portrait Images
Iris – 120 Kodak Ektar 100 film
More Fuji GA645 B&W Portraits
Holly – 120 Kodak T-Max 100 film
Emily – Expired 120 Ilford Delta 100 film
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!
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 Pro II / Mamiya 645 Super or even the Leica M3. 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
Useful Fujifilm GA645 Information if you buy this camera
Common Questions regarding using a Fuji GA645
- How to load film in a Fuji GA645?
- How to ensure you get 16 frames (not 15 frames per roll of 120 film)?
- How to make sure the camera is set to 120 film not 220 film?
- How to advance the film when loading the camera?
- What battery does a Fuji GA645 take?
- How can the Fuji GA645 record camera settings data directly to the film negative?
- What is an easy way to lock focus before you recompose your shot?
- See the video below. Film is always loaded into the left side when the back of camera is open.
- 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
- Watch the video and note the back plate needs to be moved to the 120 position
- 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.
- Fuji GA645 battery – the camera takes 2x CR123A batteries. You need a coin or something to open the battery compartment.
- Ensure the Fuji GA645 LCD on the top plate reads DATA. If not press the data button
- 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).
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).
- 120 Kodak Portra 400 – Amazon UK / US
- 120 Kodak Portra 800 – Amazon UK / US
- 120 Fuji Pro 400H – Amazon UK / US
Black and white film:
- 120 Kodak TMax 400 – Amazon UK/ US
- 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 – Amazon UK / US
- 120 Ilford HP5 400 – Amazon UK / US
More Fuji Blog Posts
- How to Process Film through to Digital (Develop, Scan, Edit)
- Fuji GA645 on a model shoot in Budapest!
- Fuji GS645 Review
- Fuji GF670 Pro
- Fujifilm GA645 Manual