The Texas Leica

The Texas Leica. This is a description of the Fuji GW690, a rangefinder on steroids that shoots 6 x 9 images. If you are used to the rangefinder then the Fuji only surprises by its size- big. The lens on the GW690 is a Fujinon 65mm f5.6 which although slow is sharp and renders colours well despite its age. Generally, this is a camera designed for landscape but it really shines as a street shooter, load it full of HP5 and set it to hyper focal focussing and it is an extremely quick and effective camera.

There is a “no frills” approach to taking pictures- no metering or electronics of any description leaving nothing to get between you and your subject and although this is its strength it also suffers in difficult light needing you to keep your wits about you but then this can sometimes lead to the unexpected greatness of film photography.

Lugging it around Tokyo and having only eight exposures per roll is a lesson in budgeting. I returned home with over twenty rolls of film shot but with only half the number of images I would usually get on the Hasselblad, the thing is though the shear real-estate of the 6 x 9 frame gives it a quality all its own. Scanning the images, I found that 400 ISO really looked like 100 in 35mm and the quality of an A2 print was astounding.

In the end I would recommend the Texas Leica to any street shooter looking for a unique look and some truly epic images.


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