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REVIEW: Fuji GW690II - The Texas Leica

Part like the ocean for this over sized ugly brute of camera definitely drops a jaw or ten, when your shooting in any scenario. My views on this lovely beast :-)

So everyone is on off holiday, I’m sat in the office at work with absolutely nothing to do so I thought I’d start blogging again.

My first post is for a camera I recently purchased from Japan the “Fuji GW690II” more commonly known to the west as the Texas Leica due to it’s design and robust and chunky size.

So cracking on.. Firstly I had been eyeing up this camera for quite some time as I have longed for a medium format rangefinder camera. The intended purchase was always the Mamiya 7 mkII, but I couldn’t justify spending the £1000+ price tag it comes with. I did hours of research and stumbled upon this beauty and i was blown away, the format the size then sharp lens everything – right up my street. These are hard to come by in the UK and when they do pop they can sell for in excess of £700 which was out of my bracket. I bit the bullet and tried out eBay on the International market and order one for £250 including an express delivery and to my suprise it came within a week without a custom or handling fee (due to be completely mechanical with no batteries or electronics)

My Overview:

Appearance: Big, bulky, mean, heavy, intimerdating, oldschool, 80’s and most importantly cool!

Features: Self timer, full manual control, shutterlock, film counter, hotshot and a extremely sharp 90mm f/3.5 fixed lens.

Pro’s: 6×9 Format yes thats correct big sexy negs, leaf shutter, flash sync all speeds and a built in lens hood.

Con’s: 8/16 exposures per roll (120/220 MF Film) No light meter – possibly it’s only really flaw, noisy spring shutter sound (no way can this camera came be inconspicious) Size – not pocketable or easy to lug around on a daily basis and finally no real accesories available for the camera at all.

IQ (Image Quality) – Exceptional – need I say anymore? Fujinon have an exceptional reputation for creating great quality contrasty sharp optics and the lens on this camera holds that promise.

Usability – This wouln’t be suitable for someone with little hands it’s definitely a big boys camera, regardless its practically the same as all rangfinders the parallax is large and bright easy to focus and you have the option of 2 shutter buttons.

So this camera Is huge and people are always mesmerised by it, It looks like a Leica/Minolta CL but it about 4 times the size of them and shoots negs 6x the size of standard 35mm. This camera is fantastic for lanscapes and general portraiture. It has it’s limitations given the fact it has a fixed non-interchangable lens but considering the focusing system that comes with a Rangefinder they tend to be dedicated to a specific focal range. I would love if the camera had a meter in it even if it was just a built in LED guide as you can’t always rely upon the sunny 16 rule and having a lightmeter to hand all the time.

In summary its definitely a Niche camera the format is lovely I much prefer it to 6×7 as it is effectively 35mm on steriods thus giving, huge detail, fine grain, clarity, dynamic range and resolution. A standard scan will result in a 5000px (long edge scan) so comparable to some seriously large sensored modern digital camera’s.

This camera is easy to come by on international aution sites like eBay but will cost you a fair buck if you buy it within EU/UK.

I haven’t seen many reviews regarding this camera as it is rather unsual all I can say is if you’re in the market for one go for the GW690/GW690II over the GW690III as the bubble level and futuristic design (horrible plasticy… cough… finish) does NOT justify the boost in value the internal system and lens are exactly same you’re effectively paying its value again for a tacky plastic jacket and spirit level which you can get on eBay/Amazon for next to nothing.

I didn’t have the camera to hand or any details regarding its history whilst compiling this review so if I have missed out anything significant leave me a comment or send me a message I’ll be happy to answer.

Conclusion: You will fill like a champion shooting with this camera

Images from other users:

Craig

written by chilledvondub

1 comment

  1. nigelk

    nigelk

    I have the GW690 and the GW690II cameras. I agree with avoiding the GW690III version due to the plastic body.

    4 months ago · report as spam