I started to collect cameras about five years ago and over the years I’ve acquired quite a lot. However, looking back over my collection I realize that I’ve only actually used a few of them.

So I’ve made a couple of New Year’s resolutions.

The first is to limit new acquisitions. Notice that I said ‘limit’ and not ‘stop’. I reserve the right to acquire cameras if a) they’re on my list of cameras I really, really want; b) they’re especially inexpensive. If I see something that takes my fancy and it will cost me less than I would usually spend for lunch then why not? The point of this is to limit additional cameras so I can try to use more of those I already have, which leads me to my second resolution.

Second. Most of my camera collection consists of old film cameras so I’m going to try to use a different one each month for the foreseeable future.

January 2017’s camera is the Fuji GS45S, which I acquired a few years ago and have never used. It’s a medium format film camera, first produced in 1984. It uses 120 roll film (15 6cm x 4.5cm exposures per roll) and 220 roll film. It’s a manual (rangefinder) focus camera that uses batteries only to power the center-weighted meter, which displays correct, over and under markings in the viewfinder. One quirk: when you look through the viewfinder the image you see is portrait format. To get a landscape (i.e. horizontal) format the camera must be turned on its side. It has a 60mm (35mm equivalent of 35mm) f4 Fujinon lens with focus, aperture (f4-f22), and shutter speed (1/15 – 1/500) settings on the lens barrel. ISO settings are from 25 to 1600. Another prominent feature is the ‘bumper’ around the lens barrel. Apparently the lens mount is quite fragile and the bumper is needed to stop it from shearing off. Looks like I’ll have to be particularly careful with this one.

A couple of reviews provide additional information:

Fuji GS645S Review by H W Kately on Film Shooters Collective.
Camera review: Fuji GS645s by Roy on Printer Attic.

For a medium format camera it’s not so large (about the same size as a large 35mm SLR) and it’s comfortable to hold. Despite the complaints about the fragility of the lens mount (which I’m convinced are valid) it otherwise feels quite solid. The meter worked well. My only real complaint relates to the rangefinder: the spot is quite small and somewhat difficult to see, particularly when the camera is held on its side for a horizontal shot. I found that I had to check the focus in the vertical position and then turn the camera sideways afterwards. I read somewhere that you can make the rangefinder spot brighter by placing a small piece of tape on the front of the viewfinder (see Resurrect Your Dim Rangefinder by Rick Olson). I may try this. Turning the camera sideways for a horizontal picture is, in any case, a little uncomfortable so if the majority of your pictures are horizontal this camera may not be for you.

I enjoyed using it, but since it was my first time I allowed for possible problems by framing wider than I usually would so that I could crop later if need be. This turned out to be a good idea because the camera had a light leak – fortunately fairly small and on the edge of the negative where it was easy to crop out. The leak is probably caused by old, decaying light seals and if I find I’m using the camera a lot I’ll consider having them replaced. If, as seems more likely, I use it infrequently I’ll probably just cover the offending area (I’m pretty sure I know where it is) with tape.

For some pictures taken with this camera see: Amawalk Friends Meeting House.




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