Fuji GF 670 Review

This camera is sharp. Super Dynamite and the remaining remnants of his B-day party.

When you think of Smogranch you probably don’t think of equipment reviews. There are a lot of folks out there who hit the technology/gear interface on a regular schedule, and most of the time I leave the reviews to them. However, I recently had the opportunity to use the Leica M9. I posted several images made with the M9 and gave my thoughts as to what I liked and didn’t like. I wouldn’t call my M9 post a review however. I’ve used the Leica M for fifteen years, so if you don’t know by now that I love the camera, well, then let me just say again, the Leica M is my main camera. In addition to 35mm I also like to shoot medium format. I consider medium format to be my “second” system, but having said that I’ve done projects solely with this format. I like 6×6, 6×7 and 6×9 and have cameras in all three sizes.
Thanks to a few super-kind folks at Fuji I was recently able to get my hands on a Fuji GF 670 FOLDING rangefinder, a camera I had heard much about but had to test out. There are many medium format machines out there but the Fuji is in an elite class for several reasons. First, it folds. Yes, and when I say “folds” I mean it REALLY folds. This is such a grand feat when it comes to being able to easy carry both a 35mm rig and a medium format rig, especially when traveling the world. My entire foreign rig fits in ONE bag, a Tenba Ultralight, and this is key to my entire working relationship. With the Fuji GF my life just got easier by having a camera that takes about 1/3 of the space of my current Hasselblad + 80mm setup. The Fuji sets a high mark by also being able to shoot 6×6 or 6×7 with the same body simply by flicking a small toggle switch INSIDE the camera. You can’t switch mid-roll but come on people we can only ask for so much. How great is this reality. Shooting a portrait series…go to 6×6. Shooting a landscape series from the same project…go to 6×7. I’m not sure thought of this but damnit get that person a corner office and a bottle of your best sparkling wine.


The photographer in some truly horrible light for your viewing pleasure.

So, over the past few weeks I’ve been traveling and snapping with the Fuji and I have a few things I’d like to share. First of all, this is the quietest camera I’ve ever used, and by a LONG SHOT. It’s so quiet if anything is going on around you….you can’t even hear it. The camera has a rather large look, but it very light and easy to hold. It does take some getting used to to be able to find that focusing ring, which is right in front of the lens. It’s not difficult but when you consider my prior focusing ring is on the Hasselblad and is about two inches wide you will know why the Fuji takes a few minutes to feel out. I’ve used it now for two weeks, and my thumb goes right to the small focusing cup. No big deal. The top shutter speed is 500th of a second, which is slower than I’m used to, but I’m shooting TRI-X at 200 and my Portra 160 at 100 so no problem there either. The camera has aperture priority which I’ve actually used quite a bit. I normally use a hand held meter, but recently because I was using two film speeds at the same time, I decided to use Fuji AP and see how the meter worked. It was dead on, every single frame. I’m not saying this is going to happen all the time, but yesterday I shot for several hours with both the Fuji and the Leica, and I just let the Fuji go in terms of the meter. I did use exposure compensation which is easily accessed by the same dial that controls shutter speed. Easy as pie.

Look at that falloff. Super Dynamite taking in some nature.

I KNEW this camera would be sharp. Why? Because I have a Fuji 6×9 rangefinder and the lens on that thing is RAZOR sharp. The GF 670 is very sharp and look at that falloff….dreamy. Wide open the lens is sharp and ultra shallow just like we like our servings of medium format. Now, on to the viewfinder. One of the best and brightest I’ve ever seen. This is HUGE. Low light, no problem. Glasses like me, no problem. Great move Fuji. And, as you can see by the pics, film advance, spinning wheel baby. Love this. A throw back perhaps. Slow for others perhaps. I like it. I use my thumb in case your wondering. If you are wondering I’m worried about you.
But there is something more here people, something very important that gets overlooked by people fixated on the nuts and bolts. The camera looks really damn cool. “Who cares?” you might ask. Well, I do. You see when I’m using this thing in the field people are intrigued by it. Yesterday I was shooting in New Mexico, came up on this group of gents, a wild group, and I pulled out the Fuji. “Que es esto?” one guy asked as he marveled when I pulled open the front of the Fuji and a mini-bellows popped out. People love this thing. I can’t tell you how great this is in the field. You might not think it’s a big deal but you can really use this to your advantage. Most people think it is old, so you have to explain, “Well, kinda, but not really.”
My only hesitation about this camera is you have more moving, working, folding parts with a camera like this so it’s not going to take a beating like a Blad or Mamiya 6. You have to be careful when you fold it. If you force the thing closed you will be cursing me and looking at a repair bill. Having said that, I’ve probably opened and closed it a hundred times without incident.
Over the past week I’ve been using this camera while I work on my New Mexico project. I’ve seen dust, hot temps, snow and wild weather including a mini-dust storm twister/rain explosion in a parking lot. I’ve shot portraits, landscapes and everything in between. Now I’m not going to spill these photographic beans quite yet, seeing as I don’t have the film back. But I’m probably not going to spill these photographic beans even after I get the film back because I like to live with my work before I release it. But, if I have a few things, here and there, that might help you better understand the realities of this camera I will surely share.


55 Responses to “Fuji GF 670 Review”

  1. Wesley says:

    Great to hear your thoughts on this camera and see some images from it.. I’ve been looking at this camera for a while so it’s good to get an opinion on it from someone who has actually used it in the field.. Looks like it could be a modern classic

  2. dan sutton says:

    had one. sent it back after a month. didn’t care for the placement of the shutter speed. pull your hand off the lens, makes it slow. also, the rangefinder and focus wheel go in OPPOSITE directions. not intuitive, interrupts shooting. So instead i’m getting a gw670 soon. don’t need the fold.

    • Smogranch says:

      Hey Dan,

      It’s taken me several weeks of fulltime shooting to really get the hang of the camera. Now that I have, none of those things are bugging me. For me, the fold is great, helps with travel and just packing up tight. This comes in handy for me when I’m going international especially. I have a Fuji 6×9 which I also love but it is HUGE compared to this thing. Either way however…can’t go wrong.
      As for how the camera is designed. I use a hand held meter so I’m normally taking a reading and just shooting, so I have very few adjustments as I go. Might have something to do with it.

  3. dan sutton says:

    also, from the picture of him holding it, you can see that it does not have great ergonomics. i lusted after it so badly on paper, but in the hand, it didn’t melt away as my gw690 or m6′s do. i was sad to send it off, but it was the right decision

    • Smogranch says:

      I guess its’ to each his own. It doesn’t feel like an M6 for sure, none of my medium gear does, not by a long shot, but I don’t mind the folder at all. I just let it rest in a flat hand, seems to balance fine. You have to remember, the key is the fold. If you don’t want or need a fold, no reason to get this thing. For me, the fold is HUGE. And….the thing is sharp and quiet. It’s not built like a tank but you give up for the folding mechanism. I’m not selling any cameras to get this, so for me it’s a perfect fit for what I need at the moment. I’ll be carrying it during my Blurb work as well as my own travels.

  4. Aaron says:

    A great read.
    Your enthusiasm is contagious. Fortunately I think I am inoculated. :)
    I will never own one of these let alone touch one and so I live vicariously (and thrill) at your own journey with such a tasty morsel.
    Two questions.
    Trix at 200? Please explain.

    Secondly, do you use UV/protective filters over your lenses? As a hardworking, man of the people sweating real tears out there in the trenches…
    I recently had it suggested that filters like that are verboten and degrade image quality etc…
    A second opinion please doctor.

    • Smogranch says:

      Hey Aaron,

      I shot most of my negative films at about half of their actual speed rating. Most of the time with negative film the idea is to expose for the shadows and process for the highlights. I think a lot of folks like a thicker negative as opposed to a thin negative. I like to make sure I’m giving enough light to record in the shadows, then I process for the highlight.
      As for filters, most of the time, yes. I use really good quality filters. I never use a lens cap, just too time consuming. If you have great glass you don’t want to use a cheap filter. I use both Heliopan and B+W. It protects the front element as well.
      I currently don’t use filters on my Hasselblad lenses or my folding GF. The rest of my cameras yes, especially 35mm because they take much more of a beating.

  5. Daniel, I reviewed this camera last fall here: http://www.michaelsebastian.com/blog/?p=2507. I think we think alike in

    I wound up not keeping it, but not without regret. I’m actually considering re-purchasing it (price is running about 10% less now) as I consolidate my film gear.

    Great image quality, but I had ergonomic concerns which I think would have worked themselves out with a bit more time and use. Agree with you: by far the quietest shutter I’ve ever pressed. My first few shots I wasn’t sure anything had happened.

    Dual-format feature is probably the greatest part about this camera; this capability makes its fairly steep price seem more reasonable.

    So, are you keeping it?

    • Smogranch says:

      Michael,

      The camera is on loan to me, so I’ll be giving it back at some point. I’ll look at my overall take with the camera, compare it with my Blad, etc, then make a decision. It takes a while to get use to, kinda like a Leica in some ways. I have a feeling people buy this camera and dabble with it, but I’m using it like a real, daily camera, so I’ve gotten used to the funkiness. I really love the folding aspect, it’s very advantageous for me when I’m traveling. I don’t have anything else that is even remotely close. For this, I’ll probably get one.

    • Tom says:

      The foldability aspect probably trumps even the retracted lens on the mamiya 6. Thanks for bringing this to the fore. Just what I need, another cool camera! You’re killin’ me.

    • Smogranch says:

      Yes, it folds way smaller than the Mamiya 6, but that camera is awesome. I bought a used one a few weeks ago but it broke. Sent it back, got the Fuji on loan and am enjoying it.

  6. I love this camera. I have had it since July and it has been my take anywhere camera. I love the medium format in such a small foldable package. It did take me a week or so to get used to the controls but once that was over it has been smooth sailing. It gets out of my way and lets me take photos. My biggest complaint has been that you can’t close it with a filter attached. I was hoping to sneak a slim filter on there but no. The meter is always on when it is unfolded but I am still on my first battery and I have shot many rolls through it.

    • Smogranch says:

      I thought about that filter setup and figured it wouldn’t close with a filter. I just have the front element uncovered. Would love to see a titanium model with super durable parts, but then again that would cost ten million dollars.

  7. Eric Jeschke says:

    Nice review. My mom gave me her old Voightlander many years ago, looked pretty much like this. Very retro/classic look. Used to use it with an “Ocean” brand incident light meter.

  8. HA! I just bought this camera 3 weeks ago :-) Love it. Here’s some images I’ve taken with it:

    http://www.byper.net/2011/05/19/family-friends/

  9. Tom says:

    I once had an older folding Fuji camera GS645. I loved it but it developed a hole in the bellows which was a common problem for those. That camera took stunning detailed images. I also had a 6×9 Voitlander with a heliar lens. Crappy viewfinder on that one but what a great looking rig. There’s a funk factor to the folders that just can’t be beat, especially with everyone and his uncle walking around with a chunky digital slr. You’d probably meet more people coming up and asking what that was. Keep up with these reviews they are great.

    • Smogranch says:

      Funk factor is awesome. I get pretty much the same with the Blad. There is nothing I like about dslr cameras. Nothing. In some ways I wish I did but I don’t.

    • Tom says:

      I’ve used by brothers Canon EOS 5D MKII with its auto everything. It’s very impressive in many ways but also not. A paradox of sorts. The Mamiya 6 for me is so much better. I know the Mamiya won’t change the focus on what it ‘thinks’ I want to focus on or do something ‘programmed’ with the exposure. Also that mirror snap thing that all SLR users seem ok with, I hate that. And all the lights. It’s mental making for me.
      I thought I was the only person who disliked slr’s. It’s heresy for you to admit that publicly.

    • Smogranch says:

      Oh I’m full of things that are considered blasphemy in today’s industry. I don’t like dslr’s. I don’t think digital is a good way for most people to learn photography. I don’t think there is any way to archive digital files, at least I’ve never found a single person who actually knows how or has any real plan for the future. I think a lot of photographers, after switching to digital, are not nearly as good as they were during their analog days. I think digital has killed the editing abilities of most photographers. I don’t think seeing an image right after you make it is a good thing. I don’t think having the ability to overshoot every scene actually helps make better images. I think digital has trivialized the idea of photography in the minds of everyday people.I think our industry is now almost entirely centered around technology as opposed to imagery. I’ve never seen an HDR image I like, and the fact I’m starting to see this technique creep into nearly every genre of photography makes me sick.

      How is that for starters? I don’t get invited to many parties these days. At the core, digital is a great thing. What we do with it, how we use it…that is another matter.

  10. mike a says:

    I agree with everything you said there Daniel. I’m so glad I started shooting on film. And to be honest, I wish I could go buy a M6 tomorrow and just work on my personal project, man that would be great.

  11. Just done the opposite to your recommendation, Daniel. After 30+ years, I’ve abandoned filters for lens protection and started to use lens hoods.

    Two reasons:

    the hood provides much better protection for the lens as it will cushion an impact on the floor, even if it smashes the hood. A filter on the other hand will pass the full force through to the lens mount and damage the lens.

    Regardless of filter quality, the best image available is when there’s no additional glass between lens and subject. A hood will also protect against side lighting and rain. If there’s wind blowing sand about, my cameras go away.

    • Smogranch says:

      Hey, whatever works. I’ve been using both for as long as I can remember. I use the hoods but I also use heliopan or b+w, and the hood. I’d use barbwire too if I could figure a way.

  12. Brian Miller says:

    Looks really cool, Daniel. Can’t wait to see what images you make of it. How long you in NM? I just love seeing it through your eyes. It makes me look around with new eyes now that I’ve been here for 16 years and things have become common.

    I’ve been playing with an old Pentax K1000. All manual, all the way. Just popped in my first roll of fresh (ie: not expired!) B&W film. Can’t wait to see what comes of it.

    • Smogranch says:

      Only here for a few more days. Back in a few weeks however. Yes, this place is still somewhat new to me, but more importantly, I find the culture interesting and something I want to explore every inch of. Southern California..not so much.

  13. Reiner says:

    I’m longing for a Agfa 6×6 Super Isolette folder for a couple of months now. The compactness of the machine is very tempting. And it’s cheapo price compared to an new fuji/voightländer of course.
    But a C330 Mamiya and a BronicaSQA are the other 6×6 contenders. Oh, and upgrading my 135 ony flatbed scanner to a V500 or V600. These nice reviews are costing me money Dan… :-)

    • Smogranch says:

      Good…that is why the equipment companies love me……

      As long as they assist you in making more pictures…better pictures…….

  14. dj says:

    Great info-thanks. I had been looking at the GF 670 for awhile now.

    Any advice on using the folder in a harsh environment- at the beach with the salt spray/sea air or on a boat.

    Any way to protect the bellows or is it another one of those cases where – you just chalk it up to living in this environment and factor in replacement/repairs as a cost of doing business.

    Thanks DJ

  15. Christoph says:

    Hi Daniel,
    great review. I’m using the GF 670 equivalent Voigtländer Bessa III along with my Leicas and the feeling is quite similar.
    There’s one thing I’ve always wanted to ask:
    I totally love the tones that you get out of your Tri-x. Do you generally expose the film @200? And if yes, how do you develop it?

    Thanks & greetings from Germany,
    Christoph

    • Smogranch says:

      Christoph,

      Hey, thanks for reading! I do expose at 200, then process normal. Scans are done at lab in LA. My post is very simple, resize, dodge, burn, done. I like dark, somewhat contrasty black and white.

  16. Karen says:

    Hey Dan. I’ve been interested in this camera for a while, but haven’t been able to try one. Any additional thoughts since you’ve been using it for a while now? (assuming you still have it). Durability? Focus speed (still looking for an MF alternative to my Hassy that is faster to use with kids).

    • Smogranch says:

      Karen,

      This camera is not anywhere near fast enough for kids. It’s really not meant for that kind of work. If you want fast MF for kids….go 645, like Mamiya or Contax, but even those are not that fast. Pentax 6×7 is also good. Slow to load however. Or, tell the kids to SLOW DOWN

  17. Karen says:

    Thx– exactly what I wanted to know.

  18. HERGE says:

    I WISH YOU A GOOD DAY. I AM A FRENCH MAN FROM FRANCE(town PARIS). MY JOB WAS TO SELL CAMERAS IN SHOPS(now I am retired). I DID IT ABOUT 25 YEARS. IT WAS EASY FOR ME TO BUY , TO TEST AND AFTER TO SELL CAMERAS. I WAS VERY INTERESTED BY MEDIUM SIZE CAMERAS.I HAD FUJI 6X7, 6X9 , FUJI GS645 AND SO ON. BUT I HAVE LEARN BY MYSELF , IT’S DIFFICULT TO MAKE GOOD PICTURES WITH THEM.
    BECAUSE YOU MUST USED: A HIGHER SPEED, A VERY CLOSED APERTURE(no less than F11 or F16) . THE DEPTH OF FIELD IS VERY SMALL AND WITH NO REFLEX CAMERAS IT’S A BIG PROBLEM(especially in portraits) TO CONTROL IT.
    BUT THERE ARE OTHER PROBLEMS : THE LENSES ARE BADDER THAN IN 35MM CAMERAS AND THE FILM IS CURVING INSIDE THE CAMERA. FUJI LENSES ARE AVERAGE(not razor like) AND THEY ARE TOO SOFT.
    I HAVE OBTAIN THE BETTER WITH CONTAX 645 AF. THE CONTAX LENSES WERE THE BEST I HAVE FOUND IN MEDIUM SIZE CAMERA AND CONTAX HAD A SPECIAL BACK WHICH STAY ROLLFILM VERY PLANE.
    I APOLOGIZE FOR MY BAD ENGLISH BUT NOW, I AM IN HOLYDAYS IN CHINA AND HAVE NO DICTIONNARY ON HAND.

    • Smogranch says:

      Herge,

      I’ve heard great things about the Contax. My Fuji 6×9 also gives me good results. My Blad works well too. Have fun in China! Thanks for writing.

  19. Jean-Marc says:

    Very tempting to get one, great review! Talking of thumb use, I just happened to test a Widelux today… any thoughts on the GF670W?

  20. jae ruberto says:

    I think at $1700 I’m going to buy one. I have been having constant problems with my Plaubel makina 67 that my friend gave me when he retired. The makina is covered in gaffers tape because no repair guy has been successful at fixing it. The meter doesn’t work and the finder kinda stinks. I put it away twice with the focus just a bit inside infinity and I think I need to have the RF calibrated again. I may like that you can’t close the fuji unless it’s at infinity. thanks for the review.

  21. Zig says:

    Thanks for review, but i will probably skip this one… some images i have seen around community are pretty sharp tho.

    I agree on digital photography. Most of the time it’s not suited for pro use. Different story for amateurs – i was stunned by quality that tiny Sony NEX5 delivers. Great walk-around device at price that is simply superb.

    • Smogranch says:

      Zig,

      I think quality wise digital is incredible, if that is the look that you want. But for me digital is more about a lifestyle than anything else. Are you okay with only have an electronic archive? Do you want to be tied to a computer every time you shoot? Do you want to edit with thumbnails on a computer screen? Etc. For me, I don’t want digital files, I want negatives. I want to be able to print in the darkroom. I don’t want to have to be on a perpetual upgrade routine, software, hardware, firmware, etc.

    • Zig says:

      Darkroom stuff is magic, it’s just a different creative process. Without going into technical details, i always try to decide between film/digital/imaging size based on job specifically. For example – 35mm has great advantage of super fast lenses, combine f1.2 with ISO800 and you are good to go without flash indoors, with both film and digital.
      Sure, when shooting for myself… nothing beats medium format film. I don’t have a luxury of having descent digital medium format, but i hear good things about new generation backs.

    • Smogranch says:

      Zig,

      I’m really interested in the backs myself. Want to try them. I’m actually thinking of making a film, so I’m looking at motion gear at the moment.

  22. Marlon Richardson says:

    Any other Fuji GF670 users notice that the focus doesn’t totally converge. On my copy in focus seems to be when the aligned image is slightly above what I really see. Is this the way it was designed?

  23. Jim Peterson says:

    Thanks for the great review. I’ve had the GF670 for about six months now and love it. A great walk around camera and the IQ is really hard to beat. I do mostly monochrome work with it. I also have the Mamiya 6 and especially enjoy the WA lens. With these two beauties I feel like there isn’t much else to want or need in terms of MF range finders. On issue I have with the GF670 is occasional blank exposures. Usually not more than one per roll, and definitely not every roll. But for some reason the shutter must be failing to open as the negatives are completely clear… Have you ever had any similar issues?

    • Smogranch says:

      Jim,

      Never. Never even heard of that, but you are probably right in your guess. Time for a CLA!

    • Jim Peterson says:

      OK. Thanks. Even though I bought it used, it is still under warranty so I should be able to get it fixed.

    • Jim Peterson says:

      I’ve come to the conclusion that it was probably a bad battery contact. Even new batteries would often run out as soon as the weather got even a little cold. So I cleaned all the battery contacts and haven’t seen a blank frame since. It’s probably been 10 rolls or more since my last blank frame.

  24. I stopped with film photography about a year ago due to my camera breaking (unfixable according to Fuji) and then my scanner being broken in shipping it

    But since then I’ve really wanted to get back into 120!! Glad to come across this review, and the many comments below. Thanks for your insight. I was wondering where you get your film developed, and also if you happen to scan it at home or not (using a v700 possibly?). I’m trying to get a new workflow going again.

    - hudson

    • Smogranch says:

      Hudson,
      I use several different labs. Photo Impact in LA, Pro Photo Connection in Irvine, and I also process and scan myself. Richard is also another lab in LA.

  25. I’ve been using the Fuji GF76 for a couple of years. I develop the film and then scan the negatives with an Epson V500 scanner.
    Several of the photos essays on my website were made with this camera. The last two were, “Springfield Through the Mill”, and “See See Havana”. When I need prints for an exhibition, I have them made at Costco.

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