If you bought a Canon 5D Mark II you bought the wrong Mark II

Before I tell you all the things I love about the GW690 it’s only fair that I tell you what I don’t like, which isn’t very much. When I first got the camera it felt a little cheap, hollow is better way to describe it. The camera feels like a chunky shell with nothing inside it but don’t mistake that for it being light. However, it doesn’t need much inside it besides Velvia 50 and when you think about it, it’s small for the size negative it shoots.

It’s rangefinder and leaf shutter makes it as small as it is and also quiet. The camera doesn’t have any program modes and the exposure controls are a little cumbersome. The aperture and shutter controls are located on the very front of the lens which makes it difficult to hold to your eye and make adjustments at the same time. It forces you to slow down and be patient which I need sometimes, especially when shooting medium format slide film because shooting recklessly will break your Leica piggy bank. It also gives me the justification I’ve needed for a long time to buy the Voigtlander VC meter and leave my Sekonic at the studio.

You may get the camera and it may not feel like what you expected, but your first photos from it will be beyond your expectations. I was more than pleasantly surprised when I got my first roll of slide film back from the lab and saw how unbelievably sharp the Fujinon 90mm F/3.5 is. Not only was the lens excellent but so was the rangefinder. PTC was out shooting around sunset and most of what I shot was at a 1/15 of second.

I thought that I was pushing it shooting at a shutter speed that slow with a camera that large but if you can hold still so can the Fuji GW690. You gotta love rangefinders. Despite the exceptional results that day I was wishing for a 2.8 instead of the 3.5 that the 90mm is limited to but that’s more of my fault than the cameras. The GW690II is probably not the right choice for portraiture or low light shooting. A wide ratio like 6×9 is designed for landscapes which don’t require a fast lens because usually deep focus is desirable. The GW690 isn’t quite Ansel Adam’s F/64 but it does stop down to F/32 for all you Citizen Canes out there. I’m telling you to buy this camera but don’t let me tell you what to shoot with it. Shoot studio portraiture with it, shoot athletics with it, just shoot and show all the zoomies what they’re missing.


  1. April 11, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I love my GW690III and GSW690II but man, they are slow to shoot. Perhaps one of these trips I will only take them and run them to the dirt. Right now, I just use them not too often. But my wife loves the 6×9.

  2. John Dowle
    May 4, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Love your photo’s from the Fuji GW690II, I’ve just ordered a MK III and can’t wait to get out with it, one thing I’m concerned with is getting exposure bang on consistently as I’ve only used dslr’s with built in metering ! any advice for a Fuji 690 newbie ?


  3. jonwclay
    June 17, 2011 at 3:29 am

    That is awesome. I should be getting a GW690II in the mail any time now, and I can’t wait to get it out there.

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