Fuji GSW690III

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Does anyone use a Fuji 6x9 RF camera & care to share their opinions?

I'm considering getting one as a "small" (by LF comparison) portable camera with a decent negative size, without spending the small fortune required for one of the other models that have interchangeable lenses, and not so much portability.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), September 14, 2001


Hi, I've owned a GSWIII for two years now, and love it. I use it predominantly for my colour work, but have also put a hundred or more rolls of B&W through it, with great results. The Fujinon EBC lens is stunning, even wide open, and I never hesitate to have the sun in the image, if necessary, knowing the quality of the lens will win out. Highly recomended - light, convienent and sharp as a tack.

Eric Boutilier-Brown http://www.evolvingbeauty.com

-- Eric Boutilier-Brown (ebb@hfx.andara.com), September 14, 2001.

I use both the 65mm and the 90mm versions of this camera and like them quite a bit. There's a lot on them in the medium-format archived threads on photo.net (under "Fuji rangefinders") and one guy even started a website, www.fujirangefinders.com.

The shortcomings are well-known: non-interchangeable lenses, no meter, not a convenient "B" or "T" setting. But compared to LF, they're a breeze to use, especially in driving rain or blowing snow. A few thoughts:

Marked hyperfocal distances, as with most MF rangefinders, are a stop or two optimistic.

Lenses are not as sharp as Mamiya 7 lenses; see Chris Perez's site, I think, for a comparison. They're "very good" lenses, but I don't think they're "great."

Film flatness has been raised as a problem for the 6x9 versions of this camera; I haven't noticed it, but my photos with the Fujis do not seem to be quite as sharp overall as those with the Mamiya 7, a camera which combines the sharpest MF lenses with good film-flattening design.

Many people are buying both the Fujis and the Mamiya 7's at www.robertwhite.co.uk and saving a bundle.


-- John (WhitmanDesign@aol.com), September 14, 2001.

"Film flatness has been raised as a problem for the 6x9 versions of this camera; I haven't noticed it, but my photos with the Fujis do not seem to be quite as sharp overall as those with the Mamiya 7"

My experience is not comparable to yours, I suggest you get your rangefinder on your Fuji camera tuned.

-- Ellis Vener (ellis@ellisvener.com), September 14, 2001.


I use a Fuji 6x9 with the 65mm lens and a 6x7 with a 90mm lens. The cameras are solid and produce nice sharp negatives. I use the 6x7 as a general purpose camera and the 6x9 primarily for landscapes.

I would echo the limitations mentioned above, particularly with respect to timed exposures which are inconvenient. I would also add that the Fuji's are not very useful at close distances (under about 3ft) and that the rangefinder view is slightly obscured by the camera lens. You will also have to adapt to focusing a rangefinder unless you have previous experience with these types of cameras. If you buy a used version, inquire about the number of rolls shot with the camera. On my model, there is a mechanical meter on the bottom which advances with every roll shot. I hope this helps.


-- Dave Willison (dwillisart@aol.com), September 14, 2001.

Charlie -

I have a GW690II, which has the 90mm lens. That's a really nice focal length for general snapshooting on 6x9. The construction is VERY plasticky, but sturdy enough overall. It's a nuisance to use mounted on a tripod, both because rangefinder viewing isn't ideal for framing carefully and because the "T" setting for exposures beyond 1 second is a nuisance to use.

I don't much care for the lens. It's more than sharp enough. I've never had a film flatness or focus alignment problem at the medium-to- small apertures I've used with this camera, though I've heard from another user that shooting at f/3.5 can be a little iffy. The contrast and tonality are a little on the hard and unsubtle side for me. The out-of-focus character is smooth and nice for backgrounds at close range, but when the backgrounds fall off to infinity with the point of focus at midrange the OOF backgrounds have a sort of mealy look that I find intensely obnoxious, especially in B&W. I rarely use the Fuji any more...

-- Oren Grad (orengrad@world.std.com), September 14, 2001.

On EBAY you can get a 1980's Mamiya Universal and a gaggle of very nice interchangeable lenses for about the same $. Just a thought. It's what I've done for color jobs, and have been very happy with. The system offered 6X7 and 6X9 removeable backs which are well known for their film plane flatness (and I suppose sometimes light leaks if you aren't nice about how you torque the longish door.) J

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@sierra.net), September 14, 2001.

hi charlie i have these cameras and the earlier versions w/interchangeable lenses for close to 20 years. i currently only use type 1 and a type 11 with the 90mm lens. if possible it is best to buy the camera new and from a local source so you can compare the lens sharpness of a few different cameras-they do vary. i have had some cameras where the the lens was best at f5.6 and others where f11 was optimum. also,as i think ellis mentioned you must check the rangefinders on these cameras and do so every year if you use it a lot. they do go out of alignment easily compared to a leica. lastly.i often blow up my images to 30"x40" and they are very very sharp. the mamiya 7 is a fine camera except i did not like the viewfinder much;lots of distortion in comparison the the fuji. also,i think the mamiya lens are quite a bit more contrasty therby appearing to be more sharp....however i do not think this is the actual case. thay are however very good.i can only say i have run about 5-8000 rolls thru the fuji's and i love them. they are a wonderful camera and now with a tk23 i have some lens choices in

-- robert lyons (ralfoto@aol.com), September 15, 2001.

Charlie, I've owned a mint condition GSW690III for a few years now and have found it to be great. The lens is very sharp and the camera light for its frame size. Having said that, I'm about to either sell it or trade it in on a secondhand panoramic camera. It has shot only about 35 rolls and is in tip top condition, so anyone interested is welcome to contact me (Australia) for a better deal than new through any store. All round a simple, portable, sharp, convenient camera. I agree with another posting suggesting the hyperfocal markings are just a tad optomistic - perhaps by one aperture stop. There's just no substitute for front tilt! Why sell it? I'd just like a pano camera.

-- Brad Cheers (bradcheers@hotmail.com), September 15, 2001.

Oops, Just noticed the advice to forum users not to advertise via this forum. It's not my intention to misuse this forum as a classified ad service, sorry everybody...

-- Brad Cheers (bradcheers@hotmail.com), September 15, 2001.

Personally, I am amazed that anyone would spend $1000+USD for a rangefinder - without a meter - and you cannot change lenses - totally amazing...... So just what do you get for your $1000-1500 that you can't find in an old used 6x9? Judging by the posts above, there is not exactly a consensus (sp) regarding the lens.....

-- Matt O. (mojo@moscow.com), September 15, 2001.

To answer the last posting, you get a very modern, sharp, contrasty lens in a body that is sturdy, requires minimal setup time and has a viewfinder with accurate focus assist. Requiring an external lightmeter shouldn't pose a problem to LF users. The camera can be used not only for landscape but also in a photojournalism style for, say, environmental portraits, shot handheld with ease. Also easily used without a darkcloth in sight. An ideal solution for travel photography without all the other LF paraphernalia we love to use but have to schlep around. In summary a lot of neg area with minimum fuss, a brilliant lens (search past threads, and the MF forums on photo.net, there are many devotees of this camera) and portability. Think of it as half a Fuji GX617 at a quarter the price - with similar excellent quality. Damn, I might have just talked myself into keeping it!

-- Brad Cheers (bradcheers@hotmail.com), September 15, 2001.

I have a Fuji 6x9 with the 65mm and one with the 90mm. I also have the 6x7 with the 90mm. I love these cameras. The lenses are very, very sharp, the images that I make in 8x10 are almost identical to my 4x5 images. I have a few 11x14 prints that also look great. The cameras are well made, and I've been very happy with them. The draw backs are few.

-- Brett M. Thomas (thomasphotograph@aol.com), September 17, 2001.

Thanks for all your postings. I've always liked the results from my Fuji LF lenses.


-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), September 17, 2001.

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