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Exploring the Insane Fujica G690BL Camera

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The Fujica G690BL, also known as the “Texas Leica,” is a unique camera that has long intrigued many enthusiasts due to its blend of medium format quality and rangefinder ease of use. The camera stands out for its practical design, which was a response to the needs of commercial photographers in Japan who required a balance between image quality and manageable frame counts for quick development. Even today, it’s a fun oddity that’s worth a look. 

Coming to you from William Sheepskin, this informative video highlights the technical specifications and practical applications of the Fujica G690. Released in 1969, the camera aimed to offer the convenience of a 35mm rangefinder with the benefits of medium format photography. One of its key features is the 6×9 format, providing excellent image quality while maintaining a user-friendly experience.

The video explores the functional aspects of the G690BL, such as its hinged back for easy loading, the absence of a dark slide, and the combined film advance and shutter cocking mechanism. These features simplify the shooting process and make it more efficient. The coupled rangefinder, which corrects for parallax and focus, is particularly noteworthy for such a large camera.

One of the most significant advantages of the G690BL, as discussed by Sheepskin, is its parallax correction. This feature ensures that the frame lines in the viewfinder match the final image, eliminating guesswork and making it easier to compose shots accurately, which is especially important when you consider the cost of each image on such large film. The camera’s ability to shoot 120, 220, or 6×9 sheet film adds to its versatility, although the relevance of some of these formats has diminished over time.

The video also touches on the experience of using the camera in the field. Sheepskin shares insights from a photography trip to Seal Island, where the G690BL’s strengths and limitations were put to the test. Despite the challenges of shooting in a dynamic environment, the camera’s robust design and straightforward operation proved beneficial. However, Sheepskin also notes some drawbacks, such as the camera’s front-heavy nature and the awkward placement of settings on the lens, which can be cumbersome during use. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Sheepskin.

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