Fuji GS645 Review (Small Medium Format Camera)
The Leica size Fujica GS645 Professional – Review
– a 6×4.5 Medium Format Folding Film Camera
Are you looking for a small medium format film camera too!?
That’s why I bought the Fuji 645 format GS645! Here I provide 8 points including camera details, 7 reasons to buy a GS645, sample photos, possible camera issues, the Fuji GS534W & GS645S variants + more..
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).
1. Why I bought a Fuji 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.
3. Possible issues with a Fuji GS645
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).
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.
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!
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:
- Contax 645
- Fuji GS645 (here!)
- Mamiya 645 1000S
- Mamiya 645 Super
- Fuji GA645 (x2!)
- Hasselblad H3D-31 + film back (645 format)
- 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. Fuji GS645S
It is worth noting that there is also a Fuji 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!
- How to Process Film through to Digital (Develop, Scan, Edit)
- Fuji GA645 on a model shoot in Budapest!
- Fuji GA645 Review
- Fuji GF670 Review
You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
- See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit (2018) – HERE
- See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit (2018) – HERE