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.
- 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
- 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: