Testing a Fuji GW690
I recently bought a Fujica GW690 and these are some of the first test shots from the camera. It shoots 6×9 cm negatives, so there were only 8 shots on a roll of 120. The rest of the test shots are on today’s 52 Rolls post at To the Sublime, as are my thoughts about using the camera.
The GW690 is a large camera, but not as big and unwieldy as my Mamiya M645 Super, even though it makes negatives twice as big. It is a very simple camera without a light meter or even battery. The shutter is in the lens, and the aperture and speed controls are on a ring on the outer edge of the lens. Focus is obtained via a rangefinder. It has a cold shoe, with the flash cord plug on the lens as well. The Fujinon lens is a fixed 90mm and ranges from f3.5 to f32 with shutter speeds of T, and 1 second through 1/500th. There is a cable release in the upper shutter release button. It has a front shutter release button as well which is more comfortable to reach when taking vertical shots.
There is a dial that controls the frame counter for 220 film, 120 film and short rolls of 120 – in other words 16, 8 and 4 exposure rolls, although only normal length 120 film is readily available now. If one could find 220 film anymore, then there is a reversible pressure plate in the camera to accommodate the different thickness of the film. On the back is a bracket to hold the film info off the end of a 120 box, and on the base is a tripod mount, and two recessed catches to release the film spools inside. There is also a counter for the number of rolls of film shot through the camera. This one is at 902 rolls, which the previous owner thinks is right as the camera was nearly new when he bought it in Hong Kong a bunch of years ago. Both ends of the strap attached on one side of the camera, which actually makes it more comfortable to wear.
That is it for features – very simple as I said. While one would expect a quiet shutter sound, the camera has a pretty loud sproing when you take a shot. Many sources say it is the linkage to the roll counter on the bottom, but a couple debunk that and tie the sound into some other internal mechanism. I am inclined to believe the few in this instance.
It is also said that one should set the exposure before winding the camera due to all the springs and so on inside the lens which link to the winding mechanism and are set when the shutter speed is chosen. I have also read that this may not be true for the T (time) model lenses, but of concern for those few lenses with a B (bulb) setting and different shutter mechanism. I am not going to test that for fear of breaking the camera. The T setting is the biggest drawback of this camera, if one is doing long exposures. With a B setting the shutter is open for as long as you press the shutter release, but with the T setting you press the shutter release and the shutter opens and stays that way. On this camera to close it you need to change the speed to 1 second, or to advance the film. It would have been a lot simpler if you could close it with a second press of the shutter/cable release.
A very nice aspect of this lens is that it is easy to rotate the aperture and shutter speed rings together. Thus, one can set a correct exposure value and then by rotating the two rings together change the depth of field without altering the exposure.