Fujifilm GA645 Professional

Fujifilm GA645 Professional

                         ..Like an noisy ugly slightly overfed Leica!

July 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography

Fujifilm GA645 Pro

Fuji GA645

The latest addition to my camera bag – a 20 year old Fuji GA645 Pro medium format film camera.  Released in 1995, the Fujifilm 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 P&S (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 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.

Compact camera –

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

Maximum resolution –

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 format.  To me 6×4.5 format is the perfect mid ground between being 3x more resolution that a 35mm Leica film negative and giving 15 photos per roll of film vs, 50% less resolution than a 6×7 negative that only gives 10 images per roll of 120 film.

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.

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 photoshoot.

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 – 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.

Creativity 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

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 is for me and digital to give something to the models for their time.  I hope to be able to take the compact Fuji GA645 on my next trip and return with high resolution sharp in focus images of stunning models in the city they live in.  That’s the plan anyway!

Test photos coming soon once the camera is shipped.

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MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Leica M9 vs. Fuji GF670!

(Fuji GF670 vs Leica M9 + Noctilux)

I originally bought my medium format film (6×6 / 6×7) Fuji GF670 Pro (aka “Voigtlander Bessa III”) folding camera to assist my Leica M cameras. I wanted a medium format rangefinder that was both compact and capable to fit in my hand luggage for photography trips away, whether model photography / fashion, wedding photography or travelling.  Since then I have bought several other medium format cameras including my Mamiya 645 Super and Rolleiflex SL66E.  My main photography interest is portraiture so I was uncertain that the Fuji GF670 rangefinder would tick all my boxes.  Rangefinders are not known for close focusing, fast lenses or a shallow depth of field.  Nine months on and I have used the Fuji GF670 for wedding photography, travel and fashion / portraiture. Here are some sample images (some you may have seen before on other posts):

Fuji GF670 Fashion / Portraits

Fuji GF670 6x6

Fuji GF670 Folding Camera

Fuji GF670 + 1:2 Xtol Dilution

Medium Format Rangefinder - Fuji GF670

Fuji GF670 B&W Portrait

Fuji GF670 Pro 6x7 Portrait

Fuji GF670 Portrait

Fuji GF670 + Rodinal 1:200

Fuji GF670 Portrait

Fuji GF670 6x6 B&W

6x6 B&W Film Portrait

Fuji GF670 Medium Format Rangefinder

Fuji GF670 B&W Portrait

GF670 Kodak Moment

GF670 + Ilford XP2 400

GF670 + Ilford film XP2

FUJI GF670 Analogue Rangefinder

Fuji GF670 / Voigtlander Bessa III

Fuji GF670 Pro Folding Camera

Fuji GF670 Pro - XP2 400 Portrait

Fuji GF670 + Portra Portrait

Fuji GF670 Film Portrait

#FilmIsNotDead

Fuji GF670 Rangefinder

Fuji GF670 Wedding Photography

Medium Format Film Wedding

Coventry Wedding Photographer - Film

Fuji GF670 Wedding Portrait

Fuji GF670 Travel Camera

Fuji GF670 Travel Camera

Fuji GF670 Rangefinder

Fuji GF670 - Soller, Majorca

Fuji GF670 6x6

So can the Fuji GF670 match the likes of the Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya 645 Super, Rolleiflex SL66E or even the Leica M cameras for portraits?

Yes and no.  The Fuji GF670 will of course not let me focus as close as my other medium format cameras, being a rangefinder (0.9m close focus) so I am never going to be able to achieve the dreamy look of say Contax 645 portraits.  That said, the lens is sharp, very sharp and it is capable of taking strong photos.  I just need to think more before taking an image.  Hopefully you will see a ‘slight’ improvement with the photos at the top of the portrait list vs those lower down.  A nice model alone is not enough to make a good photo with this camera.  Nice clothes and a good pose in a pretty place is not enough.  I need to really consider strong lighting, composition, background detail and have the help of a great model.  Put those all together and we start to see better results.

You may say I need all those components for every image? 

Again, yes and no.  With close focus lenses (even on the the Leica M cameras) the model can be pretty much anywhere in any light with any background and no experience and with a little direction and a shallow depth of field I can pretty much always get a nice image.  I didn’t realise how much I rely on a shallow DOF until I no longer have it!

I guess it is a bit like getting used to a 50mm f1 Leica Noctilux lens or perhaps an 85mm f1.4 lens for a DSLR camera and then being given a standard f3.5-f5.6 kit lens and someone saying go take some nice photos.  As I normally shoot portraits and weddings at f1-f1.2-f1.4-f2 I have to start approaching my photography differently with the GF670.  It is not a bad thing and hopefully it will result in me becoming a better photographer but it needs to be considered.

The Fuji GF670 camera itself seems well built and has an almost unnervingly near silent shutter sound to the extent that if there is any background noise you don’t know if you have taken the photo or not!  Great for quiet wedding photography photos in a church but I must admit I much prefer the big clunk of the larger camera shutters.  The Fuji rangfinder is OK.  I am spoilt with my Leica M3 rangefinder so in comparison everything else seems poor.  The GF670 rangefinder is not up to Leica standards so accurate focusing wide open and up close is not as easy as I would like / am used to. Stopped down a little the GF670 lens goes from sharp to crazy sharp and has a very modern look (I think).  I now need to use the camera to it’s strengths and see what I can get from the Fuji GF670.  I have just ordered some super fine grain 120 Ilford Pan F 50 film and have some 120 Fuji Velvia 50 film to try.  Coming soon!

Matt

See here my analysis and thought process before buying the Fuji GF670 (plus more technical info) – https://mrleica.com/2014/08/10/fuji-gf670-pro/

,,,

Medium Format Wedding Photography

Medium Format Wedding Photography – Fuji GF670

Coventry Wedding Photographer – Matthew Osborne (www.MrLeica.com)

Here are a few sample images from Sarah and Mike’s wedding ahead of the full wedding blog post on my wedding photography blog – http://www.LeicaWeddingPhotographer.co.uk

The following photos were taken with my Fuji GF670 Pro folding rangefinder camera using the 6×6 film format.  It can also shoot 6×7.  I was really impressed by the sharpness, contrast and colours from the Fujion lens and the Fuji Pro 400H colour film combination.  All photos were taken with daylight only.  Wedding venue – Saxon Mill, Warwickshire.

Fuji GF670 Wedding Portrait

Wedding Photographer - Film Camera

Coventry Wedding Photographer - Film

Medium Format Film Wedding

Film Photography Wedding Photographer

I also took my Leica M3 loaded with 35mm black and white film.  Sample images to follow.

I am disappointed I didn’t make the time to shoot some film photography at all my weddings during 2014.  I had planned to for the majority but often ran out of time working as a single shooter.  For 2015 I am going to advise wedding couples that I will be shooting some film at their wedding.  Many wedding clients are unlikely to tell the difference between film and digital photos but I feel I work better using old film cameras.  Film makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and I get a real buzz from using old analogue cameras, whether 35mm or medium format film.  As long as couples like the end result then they are happy and I am happy.  Win win.  For 2016 I hope to be shooting more film than digital.  That’s the goal!

Film OR Digital, Not Both!

Film OR Digital, Not Both!

Matthew Osborne Photography

I am a big fan of film photography, 35mm Leicas and various medium format film cameras.  I much prefer the results of film over digital, whether colour film or black and white.  What annoys me the most is I shoot very little film as a percentage of the total number of photos I shoot.  I often try to have a film camera with me when using my digital Leica M9.   The problem I find is two or three hours may pass, the model shoot has finished and I get so caught up in the moment with digital I forget to shoot any film.

On a recent trip abroad I was doing some street photography.

Day One

On the first day I took three cameras, the usual! Two film cameras (Leica M2 and Fuji GF670 Pro) and the digital Leica M9.  I also had four Leica M lenses with me to chose from.  As a result I wasted far to much time trying to decide what equipment to use and camera back with mostly digital photos.

Day Two

I only packed two film cameras plus the Sekonic light meter, leaving the Leica M9 at home.

(1) The 35mm Leica M2 film camera with 50mm Leica Summicron f2 lens attached (+ 1.4x viewfinder magnifier from my Leica M9)(to give me a similar view to the Leica M3) loaded with black and white Kodak T-Max 100 film.

(2) The medium format film Fuji GF670 folding camera loaded with colour 120 Kodak Portra film with the 6×6 format selected.  (the camera gives the option of 6×6 or 6×7 but I prefer square format).

I metered the light on arrival in the shadows and then put the light meter away for the rest of the day.  I knew I would be shooting mostly in the shadow of the buildings plus film tends to retain highlight detail more than digital.  I started with the Leica M2 shooting B&W, looking for rectangular composition and where the light played a big part of the image.  I then switched to my Fuji GF670 and instead started to look for strong colours in the frame and a square composition.  The Fuji GF 670 is much more modern vs. the M2 so has a light meter to help you get the correct exposure.  That said, film is so forgiving I do not worry too much if I am +1 /+2 or -1 / -2 over or under exposed by guessing the exposure using the Leica M2.

Results

By only having one lens on each camera and only film cameras I was 100% focused on each photo I was taking.  I didn’t have two cameras around my neck.  One in use in my hand and the other packed safely away in my Billingham bag so not to be a distraction.  I had an enjoyable walk with the cameras and came away much more satisfied that when I shot potentially similar images with the digital Leica M9 the day before.

Conclusion

I think the key to ‘success’ is if I want to shoot film then I must put the digital camera away and use one film camera at a time, not try to juggle one in each hand and have the Leica M9 around my neck.

Film Photography

After having recently bought the medium format film Fuji GF670 and now also the 35mm film Leica M3 I am more determined than ever to start shooting more film.  I find it just as easy as shooting digital and film is more forgiving in terms of latitude (if I can only list one advantage of film over digital!)

Five rolls of C41 film are due back from the lab imminently so I will get some new examples posted soon once scanned, including the first images from the Fuji GF670 that I am very excited to see!

Matt

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gf670-btn

After recently buying a 1980s Fujica GS645 6×4.5 rangefinder camera I have fell in love with both medium format again and also the size of the folding cameras such as the Fuji Professional film camera range.  I used to shoot quite a bit of medium format film before I bought my Leica M9, using cameras such as Pentacon Six TL, ARAX-CM, Contax 645 and Mamiya RZ67 Pro II.  Since getting the M9 film my photography all but stopped for the first 6 months and is slowly making a come back.  By having a medium format film camera that is a similar size to a Leica camera I feel I am much more likely to shoot more film.

For portraiture I find the 6×9 format of the popular Fuji GW690 a bit of an overkill.  I already have a 6×9 folder, a 1930s Russian Moskva-5 and it is nice for landscapes but I tend not to use it for model photography (or weddings).  I reviewed many other rangefinder medium format cameras – Mamiya 6, Mamiya 7, Bronica RF645 to name a few but I like the size of the Fuji GF670 / Voigtlander Bessa III.

 

Why a Fuji GF670?

  • 6×6 and 6×7 film format options – I like 6×6 especially, the same as my ARAX-CM
  • Accepts 120 and 220 medium format roll film – will use 120 as cheaper and more available
  • Rangefinder focusing – After using Leicas I now much prefer rangefinder camera focusing
  • Bright clear viewfinder  with auto 6×6 / 6×7 lines – the GS645 is tough to focus wide open
  • Leaf shutter lens – flash sync speeds up to 1/500 (great for strobist work)
  • Size – super slimline design means I can now shoot with medium format on my travels
  • Reliability – a modern film camera offers better reliability than vintage cameras for weddings
  • Sharp Optics – EBC Fujiion 80mm f3.5 lens for high resolution and contrast wide open
  • Built in light meter – unlike my Fujica GS645 or Leica M2 so nice to have for emergencies
  • Medium format – offers superior details, resolution, tones and lattitude to 35mm format
  • Leica feel – it reminds me of a big Leica M2 and will suit my style of photography

 

Is the Fuji GF670 a Portrait camera?

Strictly speaking rangefinder cameras are more popular for street photography, travel photography and landscape photography.  That said I shoot mostly with Leica rangefinder cameras for all styles of photography, and especially portraiture, models and weddings.  Yes the fixed lens GF670 rangefinder do not offer the shallow depth of field of say my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with a Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 lens attached or the popular Contax 645 but if you understand DOF and how to shoot I am quietly confident I can get some nice shallow depth portraits from the GF670. The GF670 focuses as close as 0.9m and the lens is approximately equivalent to a 41mm f1.8 lens on a 35mm film camera when shooting 6×6 film.  That means it focuses closer than many of the Leica M lenses (1m) such as the Leica Noctilux and Zeiss ZM Sonnar.

The size of the GF670 means I can now carry it with me in addition to my Leica M9 for trips to London, Poland, further afield or even somewhere closer to home.  Any location shoot is made easier with portable equipment.  I think I will use the GF670 differently to my Mamiya RZ.  The bellow focusing of the RZ67 lets me focus very close so tends to pull me into my subjects to get that super shallow DOF.  This means for many photos the background of the image is completely blurred so I could be taking a photo anywhere.  With the GF670 I cannot get as close to my subjects so it will suit environmental portraits with the background still being recognisable.

 

Sample images and thoughts coming soon once it arrives.

Matt

 

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