Fuji GA645 Review: (5 Reasons to Buy!)
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!
(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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (I did)
- 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).
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.
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.
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
Iris – 120 Kodak Ektar 100 film
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 excit 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 –
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
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