Fuji GW690 II Professional

Fuji GW690 II Professional

Production ran from 1985 until 1992. Its big, a whoppa in fact (18.5cm long x 11cm high x 4.5cm deep not including the lens), weighing 1.5kgs, and producing 8 6x9 frames on 120 film. Definitely not a pocket camera. This is the largest medium format – after this it is large format. The ‘Texas Leica’ as it’s dubbed is large, heavy and very simple. It has no light meter, no battery, a mechanical leaf shutter and  manual rangefinder focusing. Focusing on still subjects – architecture, landscapes and portraits is easy but focusing on any moving subject, for instance vegetation swaying in the wind or any moving wildlife is very hit or miss, usually miss which is normal for rangefinder cameras as this is not their forte. On a good day with plenty of light, using a fast shutter with aperture F8 or smaller you can get away with it.

 

Only 1 lens – the Fujinon 90mm F3.5.  Shutter and aperture settings are manual set on the lens according to the photographic conditions of the moment. 1 sec to 1/500sec and f3.5 – f32. Closest focus is 1meter. If you don’t already have one invest in a handheld light meter which will give you exposure confidence. We can recommend the Sekonic Twinmate. Small, easy and quick to use. The 90mm lens equates to about 35mm  in 35 format terms. Good for exterior architecture and landscapes. The 6x9 trannies which come out of my Rondinax developing tank are truly impressive. Lots of detail, excellent contrast and I can’t wait to print some. If you are intent on film economy  this is not the camera for you although it does make  you think very much about each shot. Aim to get more than the average 20% of keepers per roll.

 

Although the 6x9 is a heavy camera it is not especially awkward to use because it is so simple. Wind the film, set the aperture and shutter, focus and press the shutter release. A nice design feature is the provision of a release positioned to the right of the lens on the front plate. This can be locked to prevent an inadvertent release but I have found it so convenient and actually use the front release in preference to the normal top plate release. The Fuji has a built in metal lens hood which on my camera is annoyingly loose. It cannot be removed unless it is very carefully cut off. A lens hood is not especially necessary unless your shots are towards a light source when a little flare can be a problem. Because the loosness annoys me I may remove the hood on my camera and replace it with a generic 67mm screw in type.  These are available via Ebay. Also, without the built in hood the lens mounted aperture and shutter rings are visible all the time and immediately available.

I have now completed this job and what a difference it has made. A 67mm metal screw on lens hood with lens cap. Aperture and shutter speed rings now 100% visible and useable and no loose lens hood flopping about. I can recommend this alteration. Be very careful removing the original hood as you will be using a micro cutting tool in close proximity to the lens. Carefully done there is no collateral damage. I used a Dremel Micro with metal cutting blade.

 

OveralI I am quite taken with the 690 – I like its simplicity and its undisputed purpose. It is a specialist not a ‘jack of all trades’.  Time to enjoy the shoot.

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