enter the texas leica

for the past months I was looking for a fast hand-holdable eye-level larger-than-6x6 camera. I've had my fair share of medium format SLRs and I wanted a camera I could easily carry with me, fast to take out of the bag, fast to focus and shoot - a rangefinder medium format camera. ideally this would be the mamiya 7 or the plaubel makina 67, but they kept staying out of my budget, so I looked around to the fuji rangefinder cameras. enter the fuji gw690iii - a 6x9 rangefinder camera with a fixed 90mm/f3.5 lens (considered normal to roughly wide-angle for 6x9), nicknamed "texas leica" because it looks like a leica rangefinder's big brother, with cowboy hat and boots on, something the stranger from big lebowski would carry.

it's a big beast (has to be, what with the 6x9 negative it's producing) but still fits easily in my messenger bag, and it's less cumbersome and heavy than my 6x6 SLRs. its leaf shutter and the absence of a mirror box means that I can get my shutter speeds as low as 1/15 without breaking a sweat. moreover, 6x9 means I get the same 3:2 image ratio I've been using on my 35mm cameras, and only 8 frames on a roll of 120 film.

but how does it perform, portrait-wise? well, I loaded it up with an expired roll of kodak portra 400nc and went out for a windy seaside walk with the dear sisters, miss d. and miss m. - the wind battled us in every step we made and I learned a valuable lesson: your camera, your clothes and your car can get really salty after a couple of hours walking next to the breaking waves, even if you don't get a single drop of water on you.

this camera is definitely a different experience than SLR/TLR 6×6. the four-years-past-the-expiry-date film riddled the photos with streaks of discoloration, but I couldn't care less. miss d. is starring in all of the following photographs.