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120 / 220 film RF's 120 / 220 format rangefinders including Fuji, Koni-Omega, Mamiya Press, Linhof 6x7/6x9 cameras, Mamiya 6/7 among others, but excluding the 120 folders and the Voigtlander 667 cameras that have their own forums.

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Fuji GW690 which version to get?
Old 08-10-2016   #1
yoyo22
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Fuji GW690 which version to get?

I don't know how or why, but I believe having seen some post of 6x9 positives somewhere here in the forum triggered a massive GAS attack in me. So now I want to try out that format and during my research I have come to a point where I believe that a GW690 would be a relatively inexpensive entry point.
Could anyone please point out please which version of the GW690 would be advisable? Version I and II are available rather cheap, but how about their reliability? I am tending towards the version III.
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Old 08-10-2016   #2
Prest_400
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Make me feel guilty for having a few rolls of Provia sitting on the shelf and have the Fuji loaded with Portra... Without having loaded slide film for a quarter. The large transparencies are a wonder.

I have a mkIII purchased in June 2014 from a seller in Japan. User condition at a low price of ~300€, back then there were a few of these at those prices but I lost track, the trend is around $400.

From what I remember of my research, mkIII has the polycarbonate body (earlier GW's may also be plastic, but a harder kind with different texture) with ergonomic grip (IMO, quite good), rubberised focus ring (mine has a bit of slack and has a bit of play which is not nice haptics wise) and the button loading/unloading.
The red button under the spools release the catch and it's very easy to load/unload. Earlier fujis do not have this spring loaded system and it must be manually pulled, a bit more of a hassle.

Reliability wise, mine seems to fall short in RF calibration (came like this) and gives infinity at the R-f11 hyperfocal mark instead of hard infinity. Nearer distances are accurate. Look up for RF calibration issues in the Fujis and you'll find just nothing around... Reading about the Mamiyas has more stories about miscalibration and needing to baby them up.

mkIII's are rather new and probably do fine without a CLA, mkII's are still not that old. Again, the cameras are simple, so issues do not seem to be plentiful. I did get the impression that all of the models went fine without any CLA (older mkI's may require dehazing the VF).

BTW, they are kind of the best deal in large MF nowadays. Pentax 67's seem to be more hyped and I see the prices are higher for older cameras, also, they do not seem to get the bad rep for size.

Last edited by Prest_400 : 08-10-2016 at 02:53. Reason: Add stuff
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Old 08-10-2016   #3
EdSawyer
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Go with the MkIII. It has a plastic/rubber outer coating but the inner body is all metal like the earlier ones. it also has the latest lens coatings and will be the most reliable since it's the newest.
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Old 08-23-2016   #4
JChrome
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I have loads of time behind the MkIII and it's an excellent camera. As Ed says, it's still metal construction just covered in plastic. Very high quality and the lens is very contrasty with that EBC coating.

One point I've yet to hear is that the EBC coating changed over the years. I've always thought that it remained the same. I could be wrong but I believe that the original MKI has the same coating as the MKIII (both are EBC coating).

Not having used the earlier models I can't say to much in comparison but apparently the MKIII has a brighter VF'er but less contrasty RF patch. So if lower light is your thing then you might take that into consideration.

@Prest - Rangefinders can definitely get out of alignment but it's not too hard to open her up and adjust her (and clean the windows as well). Completely* agree about how they are the best deals in MF right now. Such great cameras.


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Last edited by JChrome : 08-23-2016 at 05:20. Reason: Added on Part.
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Old 08-23-2016   #5
mike rosenlof
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I have owned both the ii and the iii, in opposite order. I think you should make your decision based on the condition of the camera you can find and not prefer one model over the other. The lenses are the same, the VF is slightly different, but equally usable. The mechanism that holds the film spools changed a bit, and the iii has a bubble level.

The mileage is going to make more of a difference than the model number.

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Old 08-23-2016   #6
KenR
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I have a GSW i and a GWiii so I don't know the ii models that well. The i seems to be built like a tank with a metal skin. Changing the shutter speeds and aperture is easy because there is no integrated lens shade. However the major downside of the i is changing film - it is a real pain as you have to pry the film out of the camera with a tool (a bent paper clip) as otherwise it doesn't budge. On the iii the film issues don't exist as the spools pop out easily, but changing speeds or apertures is cumbersome because of the integrated lens shade. The body seems more delicate as it is plastic, and over the years I saw several that had "cosmetic" cracks and chips from being banged around. Thus far my iii has not suffered that fate and continues to look good despite its being the primary camera on a couple of hiking trips. Either way you can't lose as these are great cameras - my favorites.
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Old 08-23-2016   #7
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I had the II, returned it because the Japanese seller did not mention the haze and fungus (even though I asked if it had any), got a local III and much prefer the III for handling and use. I actually like the pull out hood that covers the aperture and shutter dials when not in use. It makes sure you always use the hood!
And this is a crazy solid camera. On a recent trip to San Fran I was about to exit my hotel elevator when a group of kids barged their way in, not caring who they bumped into. One of them ran straight into the lens of my GW, and well, I think he's still feeling it 2 months later.
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Old 08-23-2016   #8
Addy101
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I have a II. They seem less popular, but the differences between these cameras are oh so small.... The II has plastic body parts, but inside it is just the same as the I. It also has the pull out hood Huss likes (unsure why he prefers the III over the II).

I chose the II because of price and condition. I'm with Mike: condition, price and availability are the reasons to decide, I, II, III less so.
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Old 08-24-2016   #9
Doug
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I chose the III model in 2007 because of the added convenience features. But condition is probably more important at this point. The GW670II/GW690II came in 1985, then improved in 1992 to the GW670III/GW690III with totally new VF/RF mechanism. Brightness is increased but VF-RF spot contrast is reduced, added film spool release buttons, different back latch, changed cosmetic appearance, added bubble level.

This is a tank of a camera, and as mentioned above the body structure is metal, not plastic. The rubberized outer covering is comfortable to handle, gives a secure hold and may serve to cushion bumps!

Edit: To get a shot count add ONE zero to the number you see on the bottom of the camera. For instance, 539 would be 5390 shutter actuations. Frank Marshman at Camera Wiz is an expert with Fuji rangefinders. He told me the shutter lasts hundreds of thousands of rounds, so the suggestion for service every 500 on the shot counter is flexible depending on level of future use... and these cameras are well-known for irregular frame spacing, said to check that the roller at the right of the film gate spins freely.
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Old 08-24-2016   #10
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Does VF brightness or VF/RF spot contrast matter more when trying to focus in low-mixed lighting like trying to focus inside a bar or in the deep woods with dappled sun?
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Old 08-24-2016   #11
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You might want to look at the Dante Stella page on the GW and you can find the manual of the II here on antiquecameras.net - and there are several threads on this here and on APUG if you want more. But as I said, what I take from these, the differences aren't that big even if the viewfinder of the III is better (no problems with the II here).
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Old 08-25-2016   #12
narsuitus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yoyo22 View Post
Fuji GW690 which version to get?
I selected the III version because it was still in production when I purchased it.

I selected the 6x9 version with the 65mm f/5.6 wide angle lens for landscapes, scenic shots, architectural shots, and large group portraits.

However, I selected the 6x7 version with a normal lens for shooting full-length portraits and weddings.


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Old 08-26-2016   #13
tedium
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I bought a v3 and recently had it repaired and a new shutter in it. Cost me as much as the camera but well worth it. I would go for the 3 purely on the fact there are parts around still.
Surprisingly it's very light for the size.
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Old 11-30-2016   #14
ASA 32
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Trying to fight a GAS attack on the 6x9 III. One on the big auction site showing 064 on the counter, looks clean, seller "therangefinder" feedback 100%, located in Montreal, wants $850USD, serial number 5120001. I already have Pentax 67, 67II and 645NII—what will I do with another big camera? Help me, please!
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Old 11-30-2016   #15
Chubberino
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That's a lot.
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Old 11-30-2016   #16
williaty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASA 32 View Post
Trying to fight a GAS attack on the 6x9 III. One on the big auction site showing 064 on the counter, looks clean, seller "therangefinder" feedback 100%, located in Montreal, wants $850USD, serial number 5120001. I already have Pentax 67, 67II and 645NII—what will I do with another big camera? Help me, please!
Just a few months ago I paid hundreds less than that for one in EX+ with a lower counter than that. What you're looking at is a ripoff.
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Old 11-30-2016   #17
Dan Daniel
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Had a version I for a couple of years. Worked very well. I think that condition means much more than model version. Of course the I is the oldest so the chance of them having the most use goes up, etc.

Unless you plan to put 20 rolls a week through it, the odds are that any version you get in good shape will last.

By the way, resetting the counter is super easy. A few screws removes the bottom plate, one or two screws removes the counter block, spin to what you want, reassemble- voila!! Your camera is now worth a hundred dollars more for four minutes work!! In other words, study wear in other places to determine use, and do not go by the counter.
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Old 12-01-2016   #18
JChrome
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Has anyone removed the plastic cover on the MKIII to show the metal underneath? Is that even possible? I sold mine some time ago but would love to see the bare metal


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Old 12-01-2016   #19
EdSawyer
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$850 is not a bad deal for the GSWIII version.
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Old 12-01-2016   #20
williaty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdSawyer View Post
$850 is not a bad deal for the GSWIII version.
$850 is way more than they're going for right now. Check ebay and you'll see them hundreds less. I bought mine a couple of months ago from either Adorama or KEH and I paid $540 for one in EX+ with a shutter counter of 24.
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Old 12-01-2016   #21
ASA 32
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Thanks all for your input. GAS attack averted for now!
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Old 12-01-2016   #22
J enea
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i got a version i from KEH during one of the coupon code sales. great shape, works awesome and paid 300 for it. check KEH for a coupon code around the holidays. give yourself a return and exchange policy that works for you and dont deal with fleebay
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Old 12-01-2016   #23
Huss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdSawyer View Post
$850 is not a bad deal for the GSWIII version.

It's about $300 too much.
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Old 12-02-2016   #24
cliveward
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The III is an excellent camera.

A few tips:

Keep the film tensioned with your left thumb when you load it and then keep that tension when you close the back of the camera.

When you have taken shot 8...do not wind it on until you are going to unload the camera other wise the film will get loose and you will get light damage.

Fit a lens cap with a short tether so that it's impossible to slide the hood out without removing the lens cap.


Cheers





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Old 12-02-2016   #25
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^ Number 2 tip applies to many medium format cameras . Peter
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Old 12-02-2016   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliveward View Post
When you have taken shot 8...do not wind it on until you are going to unload the camera other wise the film will get loose and you will get light damage.
Thanks Clive, I never thought about that and it is so obvious.
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Old 12-02-2016   #27
JChrome
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliveward View Post
The III is an excellent camera.



A few tips:



Keep the film tensioned with your left thumb when you load it and then keep that tension when you close the back of the camera.



When you have taken shot 8...do not wind it on until you are going to unload the camera other wise the film will get loose and you will get light damage.




I haven't thought about this much either. But my muscle memory is to fire the last shot and reload. So I would rarely fire the camera and wind the whole roll and leave it there.

My muscle memory is also to wind the camera after every shot. But the Leica store told me not to leave my camera in a wound state for longer periods although there is debate about whether that matters...


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Old 01-03-2017   #28
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This may be hi-jacking the thread but, has anyone used a metz cl45 flash with a 670 or 690, do you need the correct sca adapter|?
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Old 01-03-2017   #29
sevo
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This may be hi-jacking the thread but, has anyone used a metz cl45 flash with a 670 or 690, do you need the correct sca adapter|?
The interchangeable lens ones and the original GW/GSW have a cold shoe, and need a adapter with a (2.5mm) plug for a Metz PC cable (essentially, the basic SCA adapter, but a few early dedicated ones also have a socket). The II and up have a hot shoe and can also utilize a adapter with centre contact (all apart from non-ISO shoes and extension cord only adapters).
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