The Fuji GA645 is generally a capable camera, specially considering the lack of options there are in medium format; however, here are some limitations that shooters should be aware.
Above is a roll of Velvia from a recent trip. My GA645 is an early model that produces 15 frames from a roll of 120. Fuji changed the electronics in later models which includes all the GA645W to allow for 16 frames. You can tell the new models from the old by a little ridge that sticks out where the AF button is. Anyways, apparently up until the early 90’s 645 systems regularly only produced up to 15 frames per roll of 120, so can’t fault the little GA645.
As you can see from the sample above, the camera winds exactly an extra frame in the very beginning of the roll. It makes me cringe to see that the conservative people at Fuji told an otherwise smart camera to do something so stupid as to waste the first frame. Considering the price of film nowadays, pay the minute difference (if there is any at all), and get a later GA645 model or get an i or a ZI and get 16 frames for your money. Later models should give a couple more years before going hay wire as well.
Two of the shots I got back were under exposed significantly. It happens when you point the camera towards the sun. The meter gets fooled. You’ll have to know that’s what the camera will do, and check the exposure readouts before fully committing to the shot. Basically asking yourself, “Is this really a f19 1/400s at ISO50??”
Another thing to check is the focusing distance. It doesn’t like low contrast situations and feels more off than not. The distances options are infinity, 15m and 5m for the far side (i’m not too sure if there was a 10m).
I never had a GS645, but I understand that apart from the better lens design with less fall off, the biggest reason to get a GA645 is the automation if offers. The primitive auto focus auto exposure of the GA645 is like that greenhorn that kinda knows what he’s doing, but will definitely do something that will get you killed the moment you turn your back on him. Coupled with the tendency for the circuit board to go (to be fair some of these units are 20 years old and the components are naturally at the end of their service lives.), may be the more manual GS645 isn’t that bad of a choice (although if you look around forums, the GS645 has its fair bit of problems as well..)
- Buy a late model GA645 to conserve film
- Know the limit of the meter
- Know the limit of the autofocus
- Know the limit of the electronic components
P.S. my unit’s motor started giving this high pitch winding sound instead of the lower pitch grinding, which goes away from time to time. I am literally just waiting for it to die so I can hopefully get the motor replaced….