5 frames with...

5 Frames With a Fujica GL690 – by Denys Trofimchuk

October 18, 2018

If you are like me, you are into cameras with the “wow” factor — rare, a bit weird, a bit underrated, and so forth. Maybe, it’s the desire to overcompensate for the lack of skill, or just a plain old “boys will be boys” thing, so getting a new toy is a must once in a while?

One day, a friend of mine asked me, if I want to borrow his Fujica GL690. I almost yelled “Yes!”. I was exited, because it’s a medium format, 6×9 Japanese rangefinder from the 60s. The Fujica has spectacularly sharp Fujinon lenses. This one had the standard 100mm F3.5, there are also a rare 65mm wide and 150mm portrait lens. It looks, feels and works almost precisely like the Leica M3 Double Stroke – except it’s 3 times the size and you only have 8 frames in the roll… so make them count!

I could have it only for a couple of days, so there was a lot of shooting to be done. I tried to do some street photos, but with a huge brick to your face, you’re not too stealthy. It also takes a while to focus a lens the size of my hand. After a bit of brainstorming, I decided to use it as a sort of baby large format portrait camera and do some portraits.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous lens – sharp , with beautiful rendering
  • Simple in operation, fully mechanical
  • Large viewfinder/ rangefinder patch
  • Flash sync on all speed/quite lead shutter
  • Fool proof and simple mechanisms to protect from accidentally pressing the shutter or exposing the film when changing the lenses
  • Huge negatives

Cons

  • Size and weight
  • Only 8 frames per roll

In short, it’s a big camera with a big character, and you either love it or hate it!

Here are some of the portraits I shot:

Light leaks on Provia 100F
Those 2 rolls were prone to unwinding

First Roll
Kodak T-Max 400

Kodak T-Max 400

Light leaks on Provia 100F

Kodak T-Max 400

Denys Trofimchuk
www.denysphoto.com

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Steve Boykin
    October 18, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Wow!!! Those are really nice photos!! I do wish I hadn’t read this because I am struggling not to log onto Ebay…. 🙂 I used to have a GA645. Of all the cameras I have bought and sold over the years, that’s the one I regret selling the most. It was a really great camera even if it was difficult to shoot in the landscape format. Did you find this camera difficult to focus?

    • Reply
      denysphoto
      October 18, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      To me, Fujica GL690 was just an oversized Leica M3. It is a bit slower to focus just because of the sheer size of the focusing ring/ lens. But other than the size and a relatively long minimum focusing distance – it’s one of my favorite medium format cameras.

  • Reply
    Louis Sousa
    October 18, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    These are great. I just purchased the GA645, wonderful camera too. It is nice to have Medium format in a nice singular package like this. Heavy and big, but most medium format systems are. Well done….

    • Reply
      denysphoto
      October 26, 2018 at 3:35 am

      Thank you! I was once thinking of getting one from the 645 series but vertical orientation kinda throws me off

  • Reply
    Dominique Pierre-Nina
    October 18, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    Hi Denys, I use to have the fuji Gw670 its 6×6-6×7 it was a superb camera it also had a bellow and you could fold the lens inside the camera where it would easily fit into my bag . Yes shooting medium format for street is a bit hard, I once took a Hasselblad around London by the end of the day I had monster fore arms.. I really like the first shot even with the light leak. If you liked the Fujifilm you should look into a GW670 its more compact and you will get great results. Thanks,
    Dominique.

    • Reply
      denysphoto
      October 26, 2018 at 3:37 am

      Thank you! I thought GW is the fixed lens one? maybe the GF670? I know that was the newest, made by Bessa and still quite pricy.

  • Reply
    Aivaras
    October 19, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Good frames! My favourite is girl listening to music. Keep it up!

    • Reply
      denysphoto
      October 26, 2018 at 3:38 am

      Thank you! It’s Irene and she is probably my fav model:)

  • Reply
    16MCShooter
    March 25, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Great article. Thanks, it helped convince me to purchase one of these. I have a flash and trigger for my digital Fuji’s, and am wondering if they will work on this system? I’ve read another article where they mentioned a sync cord that plugs into the lens barrel. Is that necessary? Any info is greatly appreciated.

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