The last couple years, now that I've thankfully returned to photography, have seen a bit of reorganization of my equipment. Selling/trading off most of my small format SLR gear, winnowing my RF kit, and finally getting my Bronica, a sort of white-elephant bequeathment, back into shooting shape—it had no functional finder, a cracked film back, and a focusing screen scratched to oblivion.
And with that, I've been bitten by the big-negative bug again. All that time spent building a small, light 3-lens kit only to drag around a metal beast that doesn't even fit in my bag. And now it got worse.
Walking home a few weeks ago, I spotted a gentleman shooting a 5x7" monorail outside my home and chatted him up (because every photographer loves getting interrupted to talk shop, right?). Got to talking about my past experience shooting architecture on 4x5" and my lamentation of the massive infrastructure needed for LF — film holders, bigger tanks/trays, bigger enlarger or scanner, etc.
He mentioned he'd shot with the GX680 before: a roll-film SLR with lens movements and motor drive. Best of both worlds. I'd seen them a handful of times online. He suggested I spring for one; they're stupid cheap on eBay.
So there I was yesterday, carrying 12lbs of camera under my arm like a football, wandering downtown Seattle for six hours. No strap, no handgrip (ha!), and my poor travel tripod looked like it was going to collapse. As the title alludes, I heard this referred to online as 'mount fuji' for good reason.
My arms hurt.
Oh, what a joy. I love square format, but it's a bit of a waste of film for tall buildings. 6x8 doesn't give you a lot of shots per roll, but it gives a lot of image per shot. Having shot 645 before, the revolving back, huge as it is, is quite nice, especially with the finder mask. Data imprinting too.
Though I've gone back to WLF on the Bronica, here a prism finder would be nice: standing tiptoe wasn't so much fun. But having lens rise/shift more than makes up for it for the time being. Most of the time it was on the tripod for some slow, contemplative setups, but I did shoot a few frames handheld at Pike Place Market. Surprisingly, nobody paid attention. I think everyone's used to photographers there. Huh.
Noisy as hell with the motorized winder, and with my flimsy tripod shakes like it's in a hurricane after a shot and the mirror comes down. Despite that, it's honestly pretty stable with mirror lockup and a cable release. Some of my long-exposure shots don't look to be noticeably degraded from it.
Only came with the basic, cheap 135/5.6. There's a handful of faster lenses in adjacent focal lengths, but this'll do for most things. It's far too long for landscape and architecture, my primary uses, so I've got an 80mm on its way.
Not a bad setup, and criminally cheap for what it is, lenses especially. It really ended up being a bit less than a used Wista, and FAR less than a PC/TS lens. I burned through 4 rolls, but that's still less than shooting LF. Maybe I shouldn't be divulging this well-kept secret.
Quick n' dirty scan.
Bellamy Hunt's Take
A crew hand-holding a GX for street photography with a digital back