Fuji GSW690III – 1985

GSW690

Its hard to believe that a 1985 camera can be considered vintage but it is 30 years old.

Here’s one of the last Fuji GSW690III models made in 1985, coined the “Texas Leica” and its a beast.

A metal framed body clad in plastic, housing an almost legendary Fujinon 65mm f/5.6 lens. Shutter speeds and apertures are up front and the retractable lens hood is non removable.

There was also a 90mm version (GW690) which was more common but I fancied the 28mm equivalent for its wide screen capture.

The G(S)W690s were primarily used by the Japanese for tour bus / group photography, banging out 100s of rolls of film a week and being known for their reliability.

Finding a used one in good condition is a challenge as many have gone round the clock a few times and have cosmetic damage. However, the older I and II versions are equally tank-like, cheaper and still very useable. Expect to pay between £150-£550 depending upon model, age and condition.

Ironically, there aren’t many 6×9 cameras that are this small…ahem.

I picked this copy up from a Japanese collector. The roll counter only showed 47.

Upon arrival, I found the camera and lens to be in almost mint condition and so I just had to try it out….the shutter sounds like a underwater pinger….a well known characteristic – I’m told!

I took the GSW690III loaded with Kodak TMax 400 to Prague over the New Year (2014-15) and was more than happy with the results (see my Prague Album)

With only 8 frames on a roll of 120 film, you have to be both selective and very careful with the shutter button….alas, I had only managed 7 frames on my first roll…but they were big frames!

Put in a roll of Kodak TMax 100 and the DR, detail and corner sharpness of this 6×9 camera probably exceeds many high megapixel digital cameras.

Best of all, it’s 100% mechanical.

 

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