Rangefinder and SLR type cameras
It has been a long time coming, but I have finally managed to put together the final section of the buyers guide for medium format cameras. So lets see what your options are…
There are not many digital cameras that I would buy, but this camera has caught my eye
It could be said that this site has a bias towards film cameras, but that is not entirely true. I just don’t often find digital cameras that I like. Until now….
Now I am not really sure about this camera. I posted the promo video for it a few months back, which generated some interest, but since then there has not been a lot going on. But now we are getting the adverts on the tv in Japan and the big stores have got shelves full of them. So in light of this I thought it would be prudent to show a review of the camera. Now seeing as I am a fan of Kai and the guys at DigitalRev I thought the best review to share with you would be theirs.
Although is is expensive and it lacks certain key features, it is still an interesting little camera that is clearly going to be very popular with people who love the retro styling and the rangefinder look. Honestly, if it wasn’t so bloody expensive I would probably pick one up myself.
Still, I am going to give it a go, so I might get one anyway. If you want to get one from Japan, drop me a line. The stocks are abundant and the Japanese versions often come with extras.
The amazing Fujifilm Natura S, faster than the speed of light
Well, I was out shopping the other day and I came across this little gem. The Fuji Natura S. This camera hold a special place in the hearts of camera collectors as it boasts possibly the fastest wide angle lens on a compact film camera. The 24mm f1.9 fujinon lens is something to behold as it is rare to find anything faster than 2.8 on most compacts.
Fuji never released this camera outside of Japan, and they did not produce for a great deal of time either, so there are not many of them about. If you do find one, they are expensive, so it is best to get them when you see them.
Officially there were three colours available; Aqua, Rose and Lavender, but in actuality there were also matt black, piano black and piano white cameras. Plus a couple of different limited edition cameras….like this one
This is the Garcia Marquez special piano black Fuji Natura S, a very limited edition camera that came with an original special case and presentation box.
The Fuji Natura s no slouch on the specs either, featuring an electronic leaf shutter, super quiet operation, fast autofocus, meter from iso 50 to 3200, built in flash, close up parallax lines. This thing is a might big camera, stuffed into a tiny frame, it only weighs 195grams!
There is only one problem….as the camera was only released in Japan, the menu and operations are all in Japanese! Fortunately they are not complicated, and after a short while you would be able to figure them out, but it can be a bit daunting.
This is a very cool camera, and it has gone….as soon as I got it it was sold. But I can get more, there are some around. If you would like a Natura S please let me know and I will get one for you. Then you can have the super fast, super light camera that nobody knows about.
A hulk of a camera, born from neccessity
Check this out…A whopper of a camera. I picked this up this week for a customer, whom I think is going to be very very happy with it. Although I don’t think the postman will be when he throws his back out delivering the damn thing.
This is the legendary Fujica GL690 Professional, a camera that was developed by Fuji in the late sixties to meet the needs of photographers who wanted the ease of use of a 35mm rangefinder style camera, with the quality and stability of a medium format film base.
At the time, Japanese commercial photographers were taking a lot of group shots (still a popular line of work in Japan), they needed a camera that was tough, easy to use, gave great quality images and didn’t cost the earth….which is where the Fujica series of rangefinders came in.
The GL690 Pro came as an evolution from earlier G690 models, being released in early 1974. The camera was given an additional release butter for vertical shots, a larger 0.92 viewfinder and the capacity to use 120 roll films instead of sheet film. There were other significant upgrades, including rubberized grips on the lenses, larger viewfinder and strengthened lugs to carry the camera (though who would want to is beyond me).
This monster weighs in at 1745g without the bloody lens! And this particular one comes with two lenses, so I am not looking forward to going to the post office.
This camera was found as part of my equipment sourcing service. You name the camera you want and I shall find it for you (within limits, some things cannot be bought for love nor money). If you need anything, contact me and I can make your camera dreams come true.
I managed to find a promotional video for the x10, though I would have hoped that Japan would have produced another one of the frankly disturbing video’s, like the did for the x100.
This camera is certainly going to be popular, just as long as Fuji can price it correctly. It really doesn’t matter about performance for a lot of people, just as long as it looks good and takes nice pictures, and that is the market this camera is aimed at. So us purists can whinge and gripe as much as we like, but we are not the core market for Fuji, and have not been for a very long time.
Does film have a future? And if it does, how long have we got?
Now then, before you all just down my throat about film vs digital and all that malarkey, this is not a debate about that. They both have their merits and demerits, so let us just leave it at that.
This is about film, that lovely tactile unpredictable wonder that captures moments on something that you can feel. For years and years we took film for granted, barely even giving it a thought. Until the advent of digital, and then everything changed. Digital was faster, easier, cheaper and could make you into a ‘pro’ overnight if you were that way inclined. Many thought that this was the death knell for film…I mean, who needed that outdated-horse and cart-style fiddly cartridge that only took 36 shots?
For a while it seemed that nobody did, and it could be the end for film. But then we had the toy camera resurgence, trendy young types and new photographic ‘artistes’ came in their droves to film, partly because it was no longer mainstream and partly because of the effects that you could produce.
This gave rise to to things like the impossible project, the re-release of polaroid films by a bunch of passionate film nerds. After a wobbly start their films found their feet and are now immensely popular with the artistic photographers among us. There has also been a strong following for the classic camera shooters, which shows no signs of waning, at least for the time being. Along with Lomography and the lo-fi market it would seem that film has not been in such a strong position for a long time. But is it?
As passionate as I am about using film, I cannot help feel that is is a house of cards.
This is not just a statement based on guesswork, but based on evidence. In the last few years we have seen the creation of a number of new films, most noticeably Ektar and Portra from Kodak, but at the same time we have seen a reduction in a number of films including some of the greats like Ektachrome and Neopan 1600. Fujifilm has been cutting their range little by little every year. So it makes you wonder, what is next?
Well, it seems not much. Fujifilm and Kodak have both pledged to continue making (monochrome) film for at least the next ten years. But what about colour film? I hear you bleat softly.
Well, that is the trouble. The colour film market has been shrinking rapidly for years now and both companies have stated (not publicly, the walls have ears) that is too expensive and not economically viable to continue producing colour film. The main problem being the developing of the films, the chemicals being expensive to produce.
What we are likely to see over the next couple of years is the step by step reduction of the colour film ranges, leaving only the very specialist films that have commercial applications. And the consolidation of the monochrome ranges into something simpler.
So, if you like your slide films, now would be the time to go shooting crazy, because you might not have much time left. But is you are a black and white maniac, then rest easy, you have a while yet before you have to put that film camera in the cupboard.
Over all the prognosis is not all that bad. Don’t listen to all of the doom and gloom types, there is still life in the old dog yet. I mean, Fujifilm, Nikon and Leica are still producing film cameras, so there must be something in it if they are happy to keep on knocking them out. We will be able to use film in some capacity or another for at least the next couple of decades, although we may need to have a healthy bank balance to do so.
This is one of the Japanese videos released by Fujifilm for the X100.
Words fail me.
Fujifilm, you have got some balls.
The secret Hasselblad, for half the price!
Here you go, something that you don’t get to see everyday. The quirky and interesting Fujifilm TX-1 panoramic film camera. This camera is a bit different from your regular 35mm film camera, in that you can switch it to panoramic mode, which automatically widens the shutter plane (pretty cool to look at). When you do this you will get approximately 21 shots from a 36 exposure film.
The TX-1 was built in conjunction with Hassleblad and branded as the X-Pan in Europe and America. Basically it was the same camera, although the X-Pan had a black finish. This was an unusual team up for Hasselblad who were more used to working with Zeiss. But it was a secret match made in heaven, they managed to make a robust and solid camera that keeps on going in no small part thanks to the solid Fuji engineering. The TX-1 sports a tough Titanium body and feels weighty in the hand. The functions are simple and easy to find, and the camera sits comfortably in the hand.
The X-Pan/TX-1 came with 3 lenses. The 30mm, the 45mm and the 90mm. All of these lenses were manufactured by Fuji under the Fujinon brand. The camera that I supplied came with a 45mm F4 lens, which was absolutely superb. the lens is sharp and has excellent rendering. The 45mm works out to be the equivalent of a 24mm in panoramic mode. There is slight evidence of vignetting in panoramic mode, but this can be remedied in photoshop or through the use a centre filter from Fuji.
This camera was bought for a customer, but I decided to test it before sending off to him, to make sure that there were no problems, and I can happily say that there were none. It was a tank and gave you a lot of confidence to shoot with.
I was sad to let this camera go, but happy because I know that it is now making a customer in Canada very happy. If you are interested in buying one of these fantastic cameras please get in touch and I shall be able to locate one for you.
Because I get to see stuff like this beauty, every single day. I love cameras, sometimes I think a little bit too much…
It has to be said that there is a very fine line between a passion and an obsession, and to be honest with you, sometimes I am not really sure which one is which. I love cameras, I love what they do and what they are made for. But not just that, I love they way they look, the way they feel in your hands and they way they can make you feel. Some cameras make you feel very very conspicuous, whilst with others you can feel almost invisible. They have a power over the person who holds them to change they way that they act and the way that they interact with people.
And whilst I really love cameras, I always try to keep in mind that they are a tool, a means to producing something better or greater than myself. It is all very well to be wrapped up in cameras, but you must remember to use them.
Still, it is tough when they look so damned good.
I am very lucky to live in Tokyo, there can be no place on earth that is greater for cameras and camera shops, but also it is a place that is great for taking pictures, really a win win situation. Whilst I am not a film vs digital nazi, I am afforded the opportunity to use film on a daily basis because of how cheap it is here. Don’t get me wrong, I have owned and used digital cameras for a while and have used the very best of them, but I simply prefer to use film cameras now. I am not going to get mired in a pointless debate about which is better, they both have their merits and their flaws. But, as Japancamerahunter, I am primarily searching for film cameras, or very very special modern classics, so that you lucky people can have them for yourselves.
A fridge recently, notice the absence of food
I am also lucky in that I am basically surrounded by people who share very similar ideas to me, people who are passionate about photography, or cameras, or both. This gives me a wealth of resources to fall back on, and helps me to locate the things that you cannot find everyday. And this is why I do what I do, because I love finding that next thing, that new shop or that great camera, but I also love interacting with the people that I meet everyday. The shop owners, the photographers, and the general public. I really am living what I could call my dream, and I know how lucky I am to be doing it. It may not be much, but it makes me happy.
A cool little store that I found last week, it is almost impossible to see from the street
As long as I can keep on doing this, I will, and I am always happy to hear from people who are interested in Japan or what I do. I you are in Japan or coming to Japan then drop me a line, it is always nice to meet people who share my passion. I really take pride in the idea that I may be able to find you something really special and I always love to hear when someone is happy with the camera that I have supplied for them.