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Fuji GSW690iii First Experience

I finally got delivery of my Fuji GSW690 6x9 camera with 65mm f5.6 lens. The so called Texas Leica medium format rangefinder camera. It is a beast and but for the rangefinder aspect suits my preferences for cameras. Manual, simple, and medium format. The only time I have shot 6x9 is when I take out my Zeiss Ikonta from the 1930s. Bought very cheaply the Ikonta works surprisingly well.

Fuji GSW690iii
I loaded up some Ilford FP4+ so I could have the result when I got home. (I had tested the shutter speeds using a fast frame rate video camera at home and they all seemed accurate.) I then headed out to the Fen Drayton RSPB refuge near where I live. This is a close-by place that allows some good scenery and is relatively quiet so I can get on with photography without a lot of distraction. It was a warm and very cloudy day and it made for a pleasant few hours out. I took my meter, tripod, and 67mm yellow filter along with the beast. I wanted to test a few different shutter speeds and scenes.

The camera worked well. I used it only on a tripod so I haven't tried it handheld yet. I am getting used to the range finder which is bright but the focusing patch is small. On a tripod I have to move to the point of focus first then compose it. A small but bothersome step. Handheld this should not be an issue and I think focusing before mounting on the tripod may alleviate this.  The built-in lens hood is completely crap. It does not slide smoothly and needs to be retracted to add/remove filters and then extended to access the shutter speeds and aperture. Many users have complained about this and a lot of those have cut the hood off. A drastic but I see increasingly necessary step.

My first shot was one I have taken a few time before. A small reed covered lake.

(Ilford FP4+ yellow filter)
I found a nice birch tree and some shadows. The sun also emerged from the clouds to give the dappled light. I took 3 exposures afraid of blowing out the white back I took an exposure at the meter reading using the meter in incident mode against the brightest part of the trunk. I took two more exposures stopped down 1 and 2 stops respectively. These I scanned in the same way and inverted using ColorNeg from ColorPerfect. I made no other adjustments. 

This is the first time I used ColorNeg on B+W film. They claim it does a different and better inversion job than Photoshop. It did seem to produce good results. I am still learning my way through the adjustments as they are very different from Photoshop. I also think these choices are very personal. I downloaded a trial of Lightroom some time ago and I never got the hang of the way it handled color space. Photoshop I could understand and ColorPerfect I can get good results with, especially with negatives. 

Nominal metered exposure
The above exposure captures the dynamic range without too much contrast which I can add later in Photoshop or the darkroom. The examples below are too underexposed and contrasty. This is my fault I was worried about blowing out the highlights on the bark. However what I should have done is overexposed the shot a stop or two. A bit counter-intuitive but if I want the white bark to really stand out as white I should push the exposure as the meter will render this as 18% gray which it has done. 

Underexpose one stop 
These two underexposed images don't look that far apart in exposure. The sun was behind rapidly changing cloud so I suspect there was a change in scene brightness right before the shutter opened. 

Underexpose 2 stops
Finally I took the first exposure and processed it with ColorNeg. I brightened it somewhat and then used the virtual contrast filter pack to get the result below. 

Final Result

The next series of photos are the same scene with focus on the tallest reed head and different apertures for the same meter exposure. I metered away from the sky. The exposures are all consistent.

f22 1/60 sec

f8 1/250 sec

f5.6 1/500

I also wanted to add a comparison of the Fuji G617 format and the Fuji GSW690. The G617 has a 105mm lens but a film width twice as wide as the GSW690 which is a 65mm wide lens. So while bot are wide angle there is a difference in how the subject is presented. I overlaid two photos taken from the same location in Wales and then scaled the GSW690 image to fit the headland to be the same scale and location using image transparency. This gives a good representation of the differences. First I present the two images separately followed by the overlaid and scaled version. 

The taller height and reduced horizon of the GSW690 is apparent. Also note the movement of the moon between the shots as one was taken before sunrise and the other after sunrise. The light is warmer in the latter as well of course. 

Fuji G617 (before Sunrise)

Fuji GSW690iii (after Sunrise)

Overlaid and Scaled Photos