On the Fuji GX680...

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film_man

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I'm getting sort of itchy fingers and an increasing case of GAS and has been thinking what to get. I'm not spending more money on 35mm as that's settled. I have been thinking something with movements as I never had a camera like that before. Large format for now is a no-no, primarily due to practical reasons: I don't process/scan my own (no time) so need a lab to do it for me and the labs I use only do roll film. So the GX680 looks like an interesting choice.

What should I be looking out for when I buy one? I'll go for the III model as I don't want to have to mess about with old rechargeables but beyond that is there anything else? Will likely get a standard lens and something wide-ish (probably 65) as the intention is to try shooting still life, a few setup close-up portraits and urban landscapes.

Also, is there any other 120 camera that I should be looking at instead?

Any advice and pointers very welcome! I would also be interested to hear from people that have one how easily they can use it handheld.

Thanks for your time and help.
 

locutus

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Its a big, huge, heavy system thats actually heavier then a 5x4 or 6x9 view camera and lenses and i wouldn't want to shoot it handheld.

If you want movements, i'd rather consider a 5x4 view camera with a 6x9 slide-in roll film holder, less weight, more flexible and you'd be shooting off a tripod anyway.

FWIW YMMV etc :smile:
 

macfred

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A few years ago I was tempted to get one of these fine machines - I had the chance to try it out for an afternoon.
For my taste it was much to bulky and heavy for handheld work.
I went another way and bought a FUJI GW670iii (90mm lens) and a FUJI GsW690ii (65mm lens), though I had a Fuji GA645 (60mm lens), a FUJI GA645Wi (45mm lens) and a GA645Zi (55mm-90mm zoom lens).
These days I prefer my Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar ...
old.gif


[QUOTE="locutus, post: 2092742, member: 33765"
If you want movements, i'd rather consider a 5x4 view camera with a 6x9 slide-in roll film holder, less weight, more flexible and you'd be shooting off a tripod anyway ...
[/QUOTE]

This !
 

tezzasmall

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I'd also recommend as macfred has, with the Fuji GA645Zi, with its 55mm-90mm zoom lens.

They're reasonably light and hand holding is no problem at all.

6 x 4,5 negs, so 15 to 16 shots to the roll, along with a mini zoom and lovely sharp optics.

What more could one want?

Terry S
 
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film_man

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Thank you for the suggestion so far. To be clear, I'm only considering it for the movements and do not want to be shooting sheet film. I have a Rollei 2.8 and really no interest in getting another regular medium format camera.
 
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film_man

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Its a big, huge, heavy system thats actually heavier then a 5x4 or 6x9 view camera and lenses and i wouldn't want to shoot it handheld.

If you want movements, i'd rather consider a 5x4 view camera with a 6x9 slide-in roll film holder, less weight, more flexible and you'd be shooting off a tripod anyway.

FWIW YMMV etc :smile:

Thanks for that, didn't think of a LF camera with a roll film holder!
 

MrclSchprs

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It is a great camera! Do not buy the IIIs as it does not have the movements and reserve some cash for a decent tripod!
 

abruzzi

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I imagine the benefit of the Fuji over a 4x5 system, is the Fuji has a reflex mirror and viewfinder, so will be generally quicker to use. I assume the 4x5 will require removing the roll film holder to frame and focus, and replacing it take the shot.

You probably already know this, but you don’t want the GX 680 IIIS model since it doesn’t have the movements.
 
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film_man

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I actually didn't check the differences between III and IIIS, thanks for that!
 

locutus

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I assume the 4x5 will require removing the roll film holder to frame and focus, and replacing it take the shot.

With 6x9 camera's thats how it works, and its a hassle. (there's the adaptaroll slide in but thats also a pain in itself).

For 5x4 camera's you can get slide-in roll film holders that insert behind the GG just like a sheetfilm holder, like the Sinar Zoom and the Cambo holders. Those are easy to use.

The Sinar holders are expensive but nice as you can vary framesize per shot (not useful if you get a lab to develop and scan), the Cambo ones are cheaper but come in 1 fixed size with 6x7 and 6x9 versions being the most common.
 

abruzzi

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For 5x4 camera's you can get slide-in roll film holders that insert behind the GG just like a sheetfilm holder, like the Sinar Zoom and the Cambo holders. Those are easy to use.

I just searched for and skimmed the manual for the Sinar Zoom. Thats a pretty clever device. Along with the frame masks, that would make it pretty easy to use.
 

elmontanero

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I've got one of the originals (first gen). I've owned it for a couple decades so here's my take on it.

It's huge, it's heavy. How's your back?
It's annoying to deal with power issues, then annoying some more to deal with a power issue in the old filmbacks. You'll buy the AA holder, it's dumb expensive, and the camera will eat the AA's for lunch. You'll learn to take apart the film back to solder a new 1/2 AA lithium battery into place, you'll need to buy a soldering iron and learn to solder. You'll need to buy fancy screwdrivers to open up the back. You'll do it again because you did a crappy job soldering. Next time don't be so cheap and buy the battery with the axial leads.
You buy lenses from Japan that might work but are too far away to return. You want a couple lenses to be able to switch, but they're BIG too and so you'll probably only take one with you and leave the rest in the car. It's made for the studio but you drag it's heavy, oversized self to the field anyway. You'll buy a few bags trying to sort out how to carry the thing into the field. Your arm hurts from wielding the thing on to the tripod - and the tripod must be a monster itself to support that monster camera.
screen-shot-2018-07-03-at-8-49-16-am_orig.png

You'll want a set of compendium bellows, they require adapters for each size of lens. It's impossible to find the adapters, when you do they are expensive.
It takes a proprietary release... one is a meter long, the other is 15 meters long. The short one is too long, the long one is too short.
You'll want the extensions for macro, so you'll need the extended bellows. You'll need to get the wide angle bellows too. You'll likely get the two different wide angle bellows. Switching bellows is finicky. They have lens movements, if you collapse the bellows and don't reset the movements you'll wrinkle the bellows. They don't make new bellows.
You'll get the Waist Level finder. Then put it on a tripod, then the tripod will be up and you'll need a chair to stand on to use it, so you'll buy the angle finder. The Angle Finder is huge and has glass in it, you'll probably want to leave it in the car too.
It doesn't have a meter. You'll buy a handheld, they're expensive. They're one more thing you'll get to take along with the oversized camera in your oversized bag/backpack. Actually they can have a meter.. in another finder, that's big. Actually the camera does have a meter, but not a "here's a good Fstop and Shutter selection" - they have a meter that will beep at you and tell you that your exposure is more than 2 stops wrong, but only after you take the picture. ("Right, that's bad. Okay, important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.")
You'll think you want to use it without a tripod. How's your back? If you buy a gen 1 or 2, you'll get to buy an oversized thing that looks like this:
images
Which is the picture in the Oxford English Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language Volume 1 under the word Asinine (adj): ex: Providing something like this as a camera strap for a camera that is intended to be used in the studio is asinine.
You get 9 negatives from a 120 roll. Process with stainless reels like you should. Don't be a putz and learn to thread the thing. Process each film in it's own stainless tank. Yes I know it's only 9 exposures and you shot 4 reels and you have a 4 reel tank. You're going to screw up all four if you do it that way, so don't.
Buy the correct Negative sleeves to fit them. It's the one no one carries. 3x3, up and down not 2x4 horizontally. You want the right one other wise you get 8 on the standard 120 page and you have to put a single on another page. Which is dumb, putting a single into a negative carrier is hard too.
You'll get to buy a negative carrier. Film photography is about using an enlarger. (piss off you scanner people!) They don't make a 6x8. Actually it's not a 6x8. It's a 56mmX76mm. They don't make a 6x8 or a 56mmx76mm carrier. You'll get to buy a 6x7 carrier and a file. And maybe borrow a vice, and some calipers to measure. Start filing, have a beverage, keep filing. Do. Not. File. Too. Much. Don't file too little either, you want as much negative as your sore back can provide you with.
The negative is big. For the love of all that is holy, do not be cheap and print small. It's a go Big or Go Home situation. Buy 11x14's at least, or for you Pommie's 14x11". Fiber dammit, put that plastic-fantastic RC stuff away. Are you a heathen boy? Don't use that 90mm enlarging lens (tell me you weren't thinking of trying the 75mm!) . Use the 105mm or you'll loose a little on the edges. Go buy a 105mm enlarging lens. Don't cheap out buying one from a Slavic country - even now they're made from compressed communism and the tears of the oppressed. It's WEST Germany or something from those Rising Sun guys. If you're trying to keep it real.... search out a Fuji enlarging lens. EBC Fujinon EX 105mm 1:5.6 when you get tired of it - send it to me I've been wanting to try one out.
Print well. The 56x76mm is really just as they tell you. It's damn perfect for the 11x14". Feel smug about it, Your back earned it. Pull the fiber slowly and carefully from each bath. Rinse well with water from artisanal wells blessed by the Pope or that guy from Nepal or is it Tibet? Dry on a screen, overnight, none of that hurried heat crap.
Mount, Matte that print on Ragboard. Show it to your Chiropractor.

Really... It's good kit. The pitfalls of the system are well documented everywhere a keyboard can get you. I just thought it should be collected in one place. In my opinion, which ain't much, it will equal or better every negative produced by any other maker.
You folks have socialized health care... are they better with backs than with teeth in England these days?
 
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tomkatf

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I'm getting sort of itchy fingers and an increasing case of GAS and has been thinking what to get. I'm not spending more money on 35mm as that's settled. I have been thinking something with movements as I never had a camera like that before. Large format for now is a no-no, primarily due to practical reasons: I don't process/scan my own (no time) so need a lab to do it for me and the labs I use only do roll film. So the GX680 looks like an interesting choice.

What should I be looking out for when I buy one? I'll go for the III model as I don't want to have to mess about with old rechargeables but beyond that is there anything else? Will likely get a standard lens and something wide-ish (probably 65) as the intention is to try shooting still life, a few setup close-up portraits and urban landscapes.

Also, is there any other 120 camera that I should be looking at instead?

Any advice and pointers very welcome! I would also be interested to hear from people that have one how easily they can use it handheld.

Thanks for your time and help.

I have a complete system (5 lenses...50, 65, 100, 125, 300..., 3 backs, case, accessories, etc.) for sale. If you're interested drop a line! Tom
 
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RattyMouse

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I'd also recommend as macfred has, with the Fuji GA645Zi, with its 55mm-90mm zoom lens.

They're reasonably light and hand holding is no problem at all.

6 x 4,5 negs, so 15 to 16 shots to the roll, along with a mini zoom and lovely sharp optics.

What more could one want?

Terry S

Uh, movements? The OP stated pretty clearly that was his #1 driving force.
 

Theo Sulphate

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I wanted the GX680III for the longest time... then I tried one. It is bulky, but what I really didn't like was the automation.

I know you said 120, but consider a Toyo View field camera which I think will give you the movements you want (actually, you could get a rollfilm back for it).
 

Roger Thoms

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I have the GX680, awesome system, love shooting with it. Yep it’s big and bulky, oh and a little heavy, but I find it quite manageable. Yes soldered the lithium batteries in the backs, luckily mine came with the AA battery holder. Lens are nice and there is an excellent choice of focal lengths. Also plenty of other accessories for the camera. The ironic thing is that my GX680 kit with 3 lenses in a backpack weighs exactly the same as my 810 kit with three lenses and 3 film holders in a backpack.

Roger
 

Theo Sulphate

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I've got one of the originals (first gen). I've owned it for a couple decades so here's my take on it.
...

Entertaining review.

The one I tried had the AE head: the electronics, metering, and autoexposure was impressive. The thought of having to have it serviced in the future was scary.

Also, it seemed as if the electronic film back was always "on" -- no one was able to find a way to turn off the display.

The only instruction manual we had was in Japanese.
 

elmontanero

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Entertaining review.
.
Thanks Theo. I do love the camera, but it felt fun to write that. Many of the things I treasure are also a bit troublesome. Old cars, old motorcycles, old cameras.
Wasn't sure how that bit of writing would be taken here. Some websites are allergic to creativity, even those dedicated to creative pursuits.
 

itsdoable

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I have the GX680III, it uses readily available lithium ion batteries (CR123a in the body, CR2 in the back), you can even use rechargeable versions.

It was really designed for studio, and does not have a good selection of wide lenses - just a 50mm and 65mm, both of which have limited motion. Unfortunately they are the only "expensive" lenses (expensive, compared to the others, which are not).

That said, I use it only in the field. It's OK in a backpack. The lenses, and resulting negatives are as good as it gets. It's easier to set up than a field camera (or a Linhof Technika70), just bulkier. The electronic cable release was way over priced, especially for the "III". If you are using movements, I highly recommend getting the Magnifier Hood.

For a size and bulk reference, Hand-held (not mine):

Honestly, I do not use it a lot. Most of the time, I take a smaller medium format camera - the need for movement (tilt) is less on medium format than the larger cousins. I also value portability more these days. There was a time I would lug around a full Pentax 67 kit in a backpack, which is no different than a GX680...
 

elmontanero

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I have the GX680III, it uses readily available lithium ion batteries (CR123a in the body, CR2 in the back), you can even use rechargeable versions.
Most definitely the best version. Less troublesome in many ways. I certainly wish I had that version.
I found the Pentax 6x7 far easier to pack in a large waist bag (fanny pack, lumbar pack...whatever). Weight is a bit easier, and the Pentax was certainly doable Hand Held.
 
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film_man

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I enjoyed reading that elmontanero! :D So, the reason for looking only at the III model is that I just don't want to worry about batteries. Been there with the Rollei 6008, did the refurb, bought the li-on and all that so if I ever buy another camera that uses batteries it will be throwaways, so the III will do with the CR123 and CR2 which is great as I already have cameras that use those.

On the weight issue, well I used to lug a RB67 around, I'm sure that's a lightweight compared to the GX but I can live with it. For lenses I'm only after a standard (or a bit longer) and a wide-ish like the 65. No more than two lenses which seems to be the limit to any camera system I use as beyond that I get decision paralysis.

I need to research the large format with a roll back option a bit more perhaps. Thanks for all the suggestions so far!
 

elmontanero

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I've lugged both the GX and the RB on the same trails. With extra lenses and finders the RB is almost as bulky as the GX with a single. The weight really isn't an issue when you have a decent pack, the space however can get annoying. I wanted to try the RB for the battery reason - that more than once bit me on the GX.
This is a personal preference, I'm not saying it's not a good camera and that any photographer in the world could get better results than me, I far and away preferred the images from the GX. Might be my RB needs some calibration and love, might be me not using it properly, whatever. I liked the images and handling of the GX better.
The automated wind, ease of mirror lock up, having BULB on the SS dial that works with the release are a few of the things I preferred about it.
If you're buying I'd be tempted toward the III and toward the III backs AND the "M" versions of the lenses - you can have the date/time/exposure printed in the margins of the film... which is trick!
 
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film_man

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Thanks elmontanero, that's really useful stuff.
 
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