The Fuji GW 690iii is one awesome beast. Received from Japan for a modest $450, she is a very high quality piece. It looks plasticky, but don’t let that fool you. She feels and acts very solid. And she’s good looking too. I really like the sleek design. Some like the mark II version’s looks better and they may be right. But the mark III has a brighter viewfinder, which will be good for nighttime shooting.
Here she is:
So why did I get her when I already have a few other MF cameras? Well, for starters, she’s gonna be great to travel with. She shoots 6×9 with a star studded lens. Not the fastest lens at a max f3.5 but it’s useable (and better than the f5.6 of the 65mm wide version).
But the real reason I bought the camera? BURNING MAN.
Yep, ol’ Jeremiah is headed to Black Rock City in T-Minus 7 days. And boy, I am really excited. This is going to present a lot of great photo ops. But there is a danger… this beautiful specimen of a camera is headed to the dessert… a dirty alkaline dusty desert that is hot and full of wild people.
I was really torn about taking her. But after buying some gaffers tape, I started thinking this could be doable. I need to seal her up right and hopefully* she’ll come back in one piece and with minimal dust. Let’s break down the problems here and see what we can do.
Gaffers Tape. Packing Tape, Painters Tape, Measuring Tape, Exacto Blade, Large bottle to cut tape upon, Pen, Coffee, Music, and a nice lady next to you.
The bottle worked well. I would take the tape off the roll, apply it to the bottle and use the exact knife. We don’t have a good place to cut tape on and the glass is a very smooth/clean surface. The downside is that it is curved, so if you want to use a window or a bottle with flat surfaces, that may work better.
There are moving parts here so I can’t tape over them. The idea I came up with is a “seal” that simple sits over the moving parts and lets them move freely. Admittedly in the photo below, it’s tough to know what you’re looking at, but that’s the lens (completely covered in gaffers tape).
What is that blue tape? Well, I had to tape over the focal numbers due to my seal, so I simply moved those to a blue piece of painters tape. I like zone focusing when needed so I thought this an apt solution.
Note: The least* sealed part of this camera will be the shutter speed/aperture assembly. There’s just no way I can do it with tape and still be able to change aperture/shutter speed. I will have to rely on just good practice to make sure I don’t get dust in here… Also of note is the front element of the lens. I have a good lens filter to keep her clean.
Here’s the folded over seal before applying:
I need to seal off the rangefinder. I could cover it in clear packing tape, but that would leave a crappy residue when I take it off. So, I first put down a layer of gaffers tape and then a layer of packing tape. This obviously reduces/distorts the light coming through which sucks. But it’s still useable and I want this camera to go miles after BurningMan.
The eyepiece got some treatment as well. I could’ve covered this in packing tape as I did the front, but it just made the view too blurry and I think this will suffice.
The Rest of the Camera
I taped over a number of crevices that I thought could be points of entry. Also, I added a bit of tape to the door latch, to make the opening between the door and the body more “snug”. Anything I can do to keep dust out, is a precaution worth taking so I’m not sparing any expense or tape here.
The Finished Product
When I go, I will put some temporary tape over the selector between 220 and 120 film (I’ll be switching frequently between the two). I have 20 rolls of porta 160 220 just itching to be burned at Burning Man. If only they still made black and white in 220, then I’d be able to change rolls less frequently! Both color and Black and white will be fun. I think I’ll shoot the first half of the trip in color and then switch to BnW on the second half… Either way, I can’t wait to get burnin.
You can choose from a lot of different lenses and cameras combinations. One mean, lean, street-shootin machine combo was the Voigtlander R4M and Zeiss 21mm 2.8 Biogon. I sold them off earlier this year (the lens and body separately of course to increase the value). This was from a roll of film I found lying around that hadn’t been developed quite yet. Seeing these fruits makes me miss her.
She was sold to purchase the Mamiya RZ67 Pro ii; a massive studio-oriented camera that is antithetical to the rapid fire shooting that a small rangefinder will allow. This is also a bid to further remove myself from 35mm film and dive deeper into 120mm. My Hasselblad SWC should be able to provide some of the same types of images (almost same field of view but square format, shallower DOF and different ergonomics). This is making me want to go on a walk!
I am still in the 35mm film world though. Below is my trusty Nikon F3HP with 35mm lens. A gift from my brother, she’ll never be sold.