As you can see from my latest posts, I have almost completely returned back to film photography. That made me go back to my archives and notes, in order to remember things I’ve learned over the years of shooting film, and by doing that, I rediscovered some of my old images. Today I am posting a few images taken with the Fuji GSW690iii camera and Fuji Velvia 50 slide film. I have sold this camera, and this was a hard decision to make, since I consider it to be the best landscape film medium format camera. So, today I am reposting an old article about my experience with the GSW690iii.
(click on images to view large size).
This camera is fully mechanical, no batteries needed for the shutter, no meter, just an advance lever and a shutter button (actually there are two!). I take light readings with the Sekonic 308s and although a spot meter would do a better job especially with a difficult film like the Fuji Velvia 50, it gets the work done.
I have rated my last two rolls of Velvia at ISO 40 and I can say that I am getting better results with this setting. The very limited latitude of the Velvia makes it difficult to capture a high contrast scene but I do like the colors and contrast of this film. The use of graduated filters helps a lot although using them with a rangefinder camera like the GSW690 is not an easy task. Also, the use of polarizer with Velvia can create a very dark blue sky which is not always what I want to see on a photo. So, the whole procedure can be quite tricky but when you get a good image you are rewarded (it’s part of the whole “ritual” of shooting film !!).
One thing in which Velvia excels, is resolution. Combine that with the size of 6×9 negative and the stunning quality and sharpness of the Fujinon lens and you can easily top quality large prints.
The GSW690iii can be shot handheld even at low speeds since its a rangefinder camera but I prefer to use a tripod since this way you get the maximum quality. For handheld shots I have observed that if I use the front shutter button (there are two shutter buttons on this camera) I get more sharp images, so I work this way when I don’t use the tripod.
The only thing I miss on this camera is the Bulb mode. Instead of that you get a “T” mode but it doesn’ work like a large format lens, you have to cover the lens with the cap and then move the shutter dial in order to close the shutter. Now, for long exposure images that’s not really a problem, but for an exposure of two to three seconds for example it gets a little frustrating. Nevertheless, I haven’t missed a shot yet, so it’s not a big deal.
I get about six keepers with every roll shot the Fuji (you can take 8 frames per film with a 6×9 camera), sometimes even more, and that’s due to the fact that with this camera you spend the time and thought needed to make an image. Scanned with a Nikon Coolscan 9000 you get a file larger than 100 megapixels (now,i t’s not really 100 megapixels if you compare it with an equivalent digital file, but still there’s a huge amount of detail and information in a 6×9 frame enough for very large prints).
So, these are my thoughts for this superb combo, the Fuji GSW690iii with Fuji Velvia 50. Here are the images…
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