FUJI GF670w First Roll First Impressions 


I want to preface this first impressions by letting you know my writing is based on how I feel about this camera for street photography. Being a wide angle, fairly compact, medium format camera I think it would also make a great landscape or travel camera, but as of now those are not my focus.

6×6 medium format is probably my favorite format for taking pictures. I’ve used a rolleiflex 75mm 3.5 but found it difficult to get focus in a streetphotography situation. After the rolleiflex I tried a mamiya 6 with the 50mm lens with more pleasing results. There are only a few other cameras that can take 6×6 images and have wide angle lenses. SLR medium format cameras are out of the question for street and the other options just didn’t appeal to me. I even tried to make cameras out of mamiya press parts as well as graflex xl parts. These were ok, but not as functional as a camera that was mass produced. The GF670w wasn’t exactly massed produce, being difficult to find even used, but I think it fits the bill for what I’m looking for. My reasoning; the GF and voigtlander Bessa III line of cameras have the quietest shutters I have ever heard. When I first tested the 80mm variant I thought the camera had bad batteries and wasn’t working. At 500th of a second it is incredibly difficult to hear the shutter go off. This can feel strange at first, not knowing whether you got your shot or not. On the other hand, if I didn’t know the shutter went off, then people around me also wouldn’t know…

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Related to the shutter; at first I thought this camera was capable of double exposures. When no film is in the camera you can press the shutter a number of times without winding the film advance. Once you have film loaded, though, this is not an issue. The shutter can be pressed as if to take a double exposure but lo and behold no double exposure.

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Double exposure test. As you can see only one exposure. Photo credit Luis Mora.

The first roll here was shot in 6×7, mostly to have less pictures to take when testing. When I actually use the camera it will be in the 6×6 format, but having the option is nice. Note though, that you cannot change the format mid roll. That being said in 6×7 corner to corner looks sharp, so 6×6 should be even better.

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Photo credit Luis Mora

The camera is nicely weighted with extremly simple controls. I don’t like the two lugs for straps being on the same side.

Eye relief for the finder is fine. I dont find it difficult to see the meter information as long as i position your eye properly. I do not wear glasses but I don’t think it would be an issue  if you did. It can be a bit tricky to see the meter information. After using leicas for a long time I have learned to position my eye in a certain way, and that position isn’t the best for seeing the GF670ws meter information. Hopefully with a lot of use of this camera it won’t be as awkward to use.

Metering looks good, most exposures were on auto shutter and retained shadow/highlight details nicely.

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Automatic exposure. I think the GF670w has a good metering system. The GTR in the picture was black with a sunny backlight sky. There are details in the shadows and hightlights.

The only thing that was a bit annoying was the focus tab on the lens. Unlike leica lenses the ring rotates clockwise from infinity to 0.7m. at Infiniti the tabs are horizontal and at 0.7m the tabs are vertical. In practice it is easy for me to focus from 0.7 to infinity but focusing from infinity to 0.7m feels awkward. In the end though this might not be an issue for me. For street the camera will probably be set to 3 meters and it will be fine.

Skip to the end:

-ALMOST silent shutter on both the GF670 and 670w

-Beautiful modern Fuji optics.

-Great first impressions, it makes me want to ditch the mamiya 6.

-I prefer this design. No bellows means less fiddling to start shooting.

Luis Mora @35mmmora on instagram. http://www.35mmmora.com

Fujifilm CARDIA SUPER28wp review

The Fujifilm Cardia super28wp was the first point and shoot film camera I bought. Sporting a comfortably wide 28mm lens and weather proof design, my intentions were to use it as a street camera. One that I could pocket and pull out when I needed something wider than the usual 35mm or 50mm I use on my main camera. Using 28mm on rangefinders can be a little tedious or might require an external viewfinder. Also I only occasionally want to go for a shot wider than 35mm. For those reasons, I wanted to have a separate yet small camera ready at anytime. So I picked up this Fuji compact.

It was cheap, and the camera that got me into the madness that is collecting and trying to find the perfect point and shoot camera…..
Camera overview

The Cardia super28wp features a lot of plastic to keep itself weather proof. It is a bit larger than a camera in the same class but is quite light. Powered by one cr123a battery. 

The top shows from right to left a nice and large shutter button followed by the power button, frame counter, panorama switch, self timer, film rewind, disable flash, and red eye reduction buttons. The back has a green light that indicates when the camera is on (solid light), off (no light) and blinking (flash is recharging or there is a problem). There is also an LCD panel with 3 buttons; mode, select and set, but this appeared to be broken on my camera. The front is very simple; a button on the lower right for using flash and the lens covered by a piece of what I assume to be plastic to protect it from water or dirt. 

The buttons are a bit mushy to press and made of soft plastic. While the main shutter button is fine, the rest of the buttons however, feel difficult to press and don’t instill confidence in whether they are being properly pressed or not. 
Looking through the viewfinder you will see a pleasantly bright image. A circle in the middle and guidelines for framing panoramas. The panorama mode shouldn’t be used because it just crops your film on the top and bottom. If you want a panoramic photo crop it in post.

The shutter is nice and quiet. The film advance, on the other hand, is a bit more audible but not the worst I’ve heard from a 35mm compact.

Optics are a fujinon 28mm lens. The aperture isn’t written anywhere and appears to be fixed at around f/8 or 11. I’m not sure if this is optically similar to the Fujifilm Cardia tiara mini. Seeing as they share the same focal length and similar branding it wouldn’t be strange to have similar optics.

Functionality

First off, powering on the camera. The buttons are mushy and you might find yourself not actually turning on the camera when you thought you did. The shutter isn’t easily triggered, so it might be a better idea to leave it on in your pocket, ready for a quick snap. That is until you realize the camera resorts to flash for most pictures. You need to hold down the disable flash button as you press the shutter to override the flash. This could be a bit of a pain if you want to be quick and sneaky for street snaps. The buttons are also awkward and might lead to you flashing someone when you wanted to go unnoticed. 

Portra800. Flash fired, i assumed it would, but did not intentionally trigger it.

Red eye reducer fires a short flash before exposing a photo with proper flash. 

The self timer button must be held down as you press the shutter to use it. It is about a 10 second timer and if you press and hold both the disable flash and self timer buttons simultaneously, as you press the shutter, the flash won’t fire when a picture is taken. An interesting note about the timer is that the camera will meter as the picture is being taken, 10 seconds after you press the shutter. It will not expose using the settings from when you pressed the shutter originally. If it metered the light when you originally pressed the shutter, you could trick the camera to expose differently. Seeing as this camera has no overrides for iso, shutter speed, aperture etc. this is unfortunate. 

Natura1600. From the hip.

Portra800. Unfortunate slow shutter speed.

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Real world use 

Ok so, maybe not real world use for what this camera was meant for. As stated earlier, I wanted this camera as a cheap and easy 28mm point and shoot. I didn’t have a chance to use it at the beach or a place where it might have performed better, but here’s my experience.

Natura1600. Bright light in the right corner.

Natura1600. From the hip, some motion blur.

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Having to constantly hold the disable flash button to not trigger the flash cripples this camera in my opinion. If pressing it once disabled the flash until the camera was turned off, like similar point and shoots, it would be passable. As it is, one handed operation isn’t reasonable unless you want to take your chances with the flash. Even without the flash, the camera tends to default to slow speeds and over exposure. Even shooting iso 1600 Fujifilm natura yielded blurry photos in daylight. 

Natura1600. Some vignetting, but that’s to be expected from a wide angle point and shoot. Nice colors though.

Natura1600. Good shadow and highlight detail. Overall good exposure for this camera.

Sharp photos can be taken with the camera. For this, it’s best to frame with subject in the middle and dark objects in the corners. This will hide the distorted corners this camera produces. I suppose it’s to be expected from something weather proof. Also you get what you paid for, this camera was under $50 u.s.d.

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Natura1600. Golden hour, great light.

Most exposures will have little to no highlight detail and lots of shadow detail. Occasionally you can bring back the sky from being a white mess, but for the most part expect skies to be white. I couldn’t find much information on this camera but I assume it uses a center weighted metering system and that’s what the circle in the middle of the viewfinder is for.

Portra800. White sky, but on an overcast day to be fair.

Portra800. Blown highlights.

Portra800. Good overall exposure.

Portra800. 28mm is really a nice focal length for a compact camera.

When shooting with flash it’s actually not too bad, I’ve seen worse from more expensive point and shoots. The subject isn’t blown out and the backgrounds don’t go pitch black. The flash is also somewhat subtle during the day time, but still quite powerful, so use at your own risk for street snaps. 

Natura1600. Flash during daytime.

Natura1600. Flash in the evening. Notice how the background is not pitch black! Better than some other point and shoots.

Natura1600. Flash example at night. The light in the top left had some weird ghosting, probably because of the extra plastic infront of the lens.

Natura1600. More flash examples.

Portra800. For compassion, flash on.

Portra800. For comparison, flash off. Blurry.

Color can be hit or miss. Usually on the muted side, and the shadows don’t have a rich black quality. The shadow detail can be quite flat. This changes somewhat with the flash, which can give a punchier look, but still not of the highest quality. This camera might be suited more for black and white photos.

Natura1600. I never shot black and white with this camera, but decided to try to mimic what, say, ilford hp5 would look like.

With the lens being covered by a piece of plastic, it can lead to some heavy flaring when shot directly into the sun. Also it is extremely easy to have your finger show up in a shot if you aren’t paying attention or being quick. 

Natura1600. Flare when shot directly into sun

Natura1600. The blurry object in the lower right corner is my finger

Lastly, my particular camera broke down on me, somewhat. At a certain point it decided that 27 exposures would be enough and didn’t want to advance the film any further. This would normally be only slightly annoying but something happens on the last exposure that bleeds light into the last few frames, and the camera will not rewind the film. Even unloading in a dark bag made a few frames have light leeks toward the sprockets. With 27 frames, give or take, spooled up its also quite difficult to yank out and roll back up into the canister. I ended up shooting two rolls where this happened and then decided to call it quits on this camera, as the rainy season had ended and the camera seemed to not be functioning properly.

Double dose of what’s wrong with this camera. Natura 1600 in day light yet still took a blurry photo. Also light leak from breaking down.

Conclusion

Portra800. Unfortunate finger in the corner. From the hip.

Portra800

Natura1600

Portra800. Sometimes the slow shutter speeds can be decremental.

Portra800. Sometimes the slow shutter speeds can enhance a photo. I would still like to have some sort of manual controls though.

This is not a street camera. Maybe more of a go to the beach sort of camera. Even for that, though, I feel like there are better options. For me, I would have used it a bit more when it rained or went out to get a drink with friends. Actually that sounds like a good use of this camera. The flash is decent, it can take a beating (or a sloshing), and 28mm is wonderful for getting all your friends in the picture. The ones on the edges might look a bit fuzzy, but you were drinking and that’s how you remember them anyways. 

Portra800

Portra800

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Another thing I would like to try would be using cinestill 50 for a lomography type look. Or hacking the dx code of tri-x to shoot at 1600 or 3200 iso. The image quality just isn’t good enough though and there are better 28mm compacts out there, like the Olympus xa 4 I just got my hands on. If you want a 28mm compact and you’re on a tight budget and can put up with what I thought were problems, you might enjoy it. If not, it’s hard to recommend the Fujifilm Cardia super28wp.
Last set of pictures. Shot within seconds of eachother, yet one is blurry and one is not. At around this time the camera also decided to stop working. Hopefully it isn’t a common problem with this camera model, but I won’t be purchasing a new one to find out.

Photos scanned with a pakon 135f 

50mm Leica lens impressions

I tried out 3 50mm leica lenses today; the f/1 noctilux (not sure which version), the f/1.4 summilux asph and the f/2 summicron-m ver.4/5 (non asph apo).

All 3 are amazing any of them would be a great 50, maybe the only 50 you would ever need. I’ve been in pursuit of “the one” 50mm lens for a while now. Thought I should share my experiences with these lenses.

50mm summicron-m f/2.0

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The smallest and lightest of the 3, but this does not affect performance at all! At f/2 it appears to be the sharpest. I really like the way that the summicron renders images. The colors, sharpness contrast everything is great. The pull out hood is nice too, but it does not lock like the summilux. There is no focus tab but I feel like it’s not necessary for this lens. The focus ring is really fast smooth and accurate, but still a focus tab would have been nice. The aperture ring is my favorite of the 3, a little more firm. The small size also makes it great for street or travel. I think f/2 is perfect, it won’t let you go too crazy with DOF and is good enough for low light(with modern digital cameras at least). The size, weight and feeling of this lens is also great! Also its the cheapest!!

50mm summilux asph f/1.4

L1001076

This is really the all in one 50, it sits in the middle of the summicron and noctilux. Not as big as the noctilux but bigger than the summicron. Also price wise is in the middle. Build and appearance are similar to the summicron-m but with a focus tab and longer/bigger. Strikes the right balance and probably the best one lens setup for anything. Not as sharp as the cron but wide open it looks amazing! Would be a great portrait lens as well, bokeh is beautiful. If you can shoot street at 1.4 you would get amazing shots but id go with the cron for street. This is really the jack of all trades 50mm. I really like the focus tab,but the aperture ring is a little too smooth. It won’t move out of place, it’s just too smooth for my taste. Over all great lens, would love to have one!

50mm noctilux f/1

L1001029

Largest of the 3 lenses but also the fastest. “Fastest” as far as aperture but the focus is not as fast as the cron nor the lux. The closest focus distance is also a bit farther. Not the best for street photography for sure. This would be a great portrait lens but is not as versatile as the other 2. It is a specialty lens for sure. Not as sharp as the cron and probably matches the lux at some apertures, but we all know this lens is all about being shot wide open! Haven’t shot this at night but I’m sure its great, I could hardly shoot at f/1 iso 160 during the day. Not available new but certainly a great lens that holds its own next to the new cron and lux. 

Conclusion:

For me the summircon was the best. The size weight price and fast aperture (f/2 is still fast!) really make it an appealing do anything 50. Would have loved a focus tab but it doesn’t really need it. In general a good choice. The summilux is great too if you need f/1.4. Sharp enough light enough it would make a great single lens set up for travel. The noctilux is too specialized for me. The images you get from it at f/1 can’t be replicated by the other 2 but it’s not as practice as the others.

samples shot on an m9 not wide open, these were the only pictures of the same subject with all 3 lenses.