Fuji GF 670 Review
Posted on May 24, 2011
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.