More than a year has passed since I originally wrote my review of the Fujifilm GA645 and I still get emails asking about the camera. Over the two years that I’ve owned the GA645 a number of cameras have come and gone. For a host of reasons the GA645 has always avoided the chopping block, and I want to provide an update about what I still think is one of the best cameras available for film photographers.
As I mentioned in the previous review, the camera is pretty unique in that it’s highly automated. If you’re coming from manual, mechanical cameras, it’s hard to trust at times and in two years I still haven’t been able to shake that feeling, though the camera has seldom let me down. On a couple of occasions I’ve been careless, and in a couple of other instances I’ve made some poor choices which led to poor results. You can’t really expect this camera to do everything for you though at times it feels like it can.
As I mentioned in the time that has passed since I purchased the camera and reviewed it a number of other cameras have come and gone. During my time with the GA645 I’ve sold both my Hasseblad 500 C/M and my Fujifilm GW690III, not because they weren’t good cameras, but because they were replaced by cameras that better fit my needs. The GA645 however has always remained a fixture in my stable of cameras for a number of reasons.
The lens on the Fujifilm GA645 is fantastic and combines the right amount of juju with the right amount of sharpness. It is, in my opinion, as sharp as the Hasselblad lenses I owned and with an equal amount of character while avoiding the sterility of the Mamiya lenses for the 7II. For me I think it all boils down to the size and ease of use the GA645 provides.
The first trip I took with the Fujifilm GA645 was to Cambodia. I had some concerns before leaving and really wasn’t sure what I’d take with me for cameras and ultimately I decided on the GA645 for a couple of reasons. First off, the camera has a form factor that’s hard to beat. It’s hard to justify not bringing it while traveling since it is so small and light. Second, the camera’s design sets it apart from the legions of disposable SLR cameras being toted by most tourists making it both less of a theft hazard and less threatening to anyone you may want to make a portrait of. It goes pretty much unnoticed by everyone since it has styling that actually repels camera enthusiasts and thieves simultaneously.
The camera just works which is another reason I chose to bring it with me to Cambodia. It’s entirely capable of getting out of your way and letting you take pictures. I don’t know about you, but my family doesn’t want to wait around all day while I meter, maybe change lenses, and fiddle with my camera. For that reason alone the Fujifilm GA645 is excellent. Needless to say, the camera performed flawlessly throughout the trip during which I shot a mix of Portra 400 and Tri-X.
WINTER, WEATHER, GA645
Since my trip to Cambodia my GA645 has done a lot of domestic travel duty, particularly on fishing trips. It’s a really easy camera to just throw on and go. Earlier this year, right on the tail of Winter, I took the camera on a backcountry fishing trip near Mt. Fuji.
Truth be told the trip was more hiking than fishing. We did ten miles round trip on ground that was covered in fresh snow and fallen leaves which made for a slick combination. During all of my travel I’ve had only a couple of issues with the Fujifilm GA645, both of which occurred in inclement weather.
First off, focusing in foggy conditions is tricky with the GA645. Be sure to check your distance settings in the viewfinder before committing to an exposure. On a couple of occasions the camera was fooled by some thick fog we were in while on a mountain pass. Next, and I honestly should have known better, but always check the lens if you’re shooting in adverse conditions. Some condensation had formed on the lens filter after five miles of hiking in the clouds and I missed a couple of shots because I didn’t look at the lens after removing the cap: lesson learned.
In all honesty the issues that have occurred with the camera really stem from the automated nature of the camera itself combined with my inattentiveness. I treat the camera like a huge point and shoot, and thus reap results worthy of a huge point and shoot. I should have noticed that the filter has slightly fogged, but I didn’t. Similarly, I should have noticed the focus distance indicator, but didn’t.
So, will the Fujifilm GA645 be in my bag for another two years? I can say that it absolutely will. As we speak I am packing my bags for a week on the road through the Kansai region of Japan and the Fujifilm GA645 will be in my bag with ten rolls of film.
If you missed the original review of the Fujifilm GA645 be sure to check it out.