What strange times that we live in. With the world currently rearing its head and mobilizing its resources in facing of the Covid-19 pandemic, here I am in lockdown at my in-law’s farm writing a blog about a film camera. I’m sure there are other things I could be doing, but I am also keenly aware that now, more than ever, the arts are so vital in keeping our souls nourished. I hope you are all well, staying safe, and staying kind.
With that kind of introduction, let me bring forth what could be my ultimate medium format camera set up of all time; the Fuji GW690ii. I recently picked up this beast of a camera in March, and it does live up to the “Texas Leica” name. It’s HUGE. It covers half of my face and my wife often mentions how ridiculous it looks. I agree. It looks ridiculous!
However, after owning the Mamiya m645 for about 6 months, I realize I was missing so many moments because of the boxy and chunky nature of the camera. I have loved using a waist-level viewfinder, but the GW690ii gives me a simpler way of composing. It is much more portable as it feels lighter and less cumbersome to carry around.
With only getting 8 shots per roll, it’s a careful decision for every frame, but the 6×9 format is gorgeous in resolution that makes it’s so worth it if you catch the right moment. (Pro tip: take your flippin lens cap off before shooting!) I have fallen in love with this camera, and have long since sold my Mamiya 645, as well as a few other 35mm cameras. Currently, this MF setup and my trusty Nikon F2 are the main film cameras that I shoot. I used to be skeptical, wondering if 8 shots per roll was too high a price to pay. But I assure you, once you see the resolution in the negatives, it makes it so worth it.
By nature, I am a structured and methodical kind of person. This camera lends it’s strength to how I shoot and compose. It works great for me. I am pretty sure I’ll remain quite content with this camera! Although I’ve always lusted after a Mamiya 7, I’m pretty sure those juicy 6×9 negatives will keep me in line for awhile.
If you’re ever debating about picking up one of these bad boys, my recommendation is to heartily go for it. The ease of an all mechanical medium format camera, with negatives that boarder large format, this is a no brainer. And from my personal experience, its much more wieldable that a boxy Mamiya. I would say the same of the equivalent SLRs, your Hasselblads, Bronicas etc…
The only down side is that I think I’ll venture into large format and God knows how much more my wife can take from my camera splurges…