Fuji GW690

Some members on Rangefinderforum.com have been speculating on why the Fuji 690 series is not so popular here in the states.

  • Never strongly marketed to the US consumer.
  • Fuji never gained the notoriety of Leica or Hasselblad (the former having lots of famous photographer adopters and the latter going to the moon).
  • It’s an admittedly big and bulky camera.
  • More reasons on the forum here.

But, all of that doesn’t stop me from loving mine. Here’s a shot from the other day:

One consequence of having such an unpopular camera is that there are few resources to help you service and use it. I could pay Nippon Photo Clinic to do it, but rangefinders were designed to make it easy to change the alignment. So let’s forgo the $30 expense, take five minutes and just do it.

Note – this should work the *exact* same way for a Fuji G690 or BL690 and probably the same way for a GW690.

#1 – Prepare Thine Throne

I like to have a clean workspace with some quality tools. You’ll need:

  1. precision screwdriver set
  2. wrench or vise grip with rubber pads
  3. paper towel and water
  4. hands with opposable thumbs

#2 – Remove the Shutter Collar and Winder

I’m not really sure it’s called the ‘shutter collar’ but it sounds reasonable so lets go with it. It’s basically a collar that surrounds the shutter release on the top of the camera. You have to unscrew it and then remove the thumb winder and its assorted bits.

FullSizeRender (2)

Since the shutter collar is smooth, it can be difficult to remove. I use a visegrip along with a couple of pads of rubber. Using a wrench without rubber would work, but it would chew up the chrome.

#3 – Unscrew the Four Screws on the Top Plate

There are four screws holding the top plate to the camera. Just easily remove them and set them aside. Now remove the top plate. It take a little bit of pressure for it to come off, but just work one side at a time until it does.

FullSizeRender (3)

#4 – Horizontal Alignment Adjustment

Now you’re ready for some horizontal adjustment. Go to the front of the camera. There are two screws next to the RF patch mirror window (mine are rusted). Notice the tiny copper colored flathead screw in between them. This is your adjustment screw.

I set my lens at infinite and started playing with different directions of turning and seeing how that impacted the RF patch. If memory servers, turning this clockwise moved my RF patch to the right. The adjustment is very fine-grained so I had to give it about one full turn. After I got it nailed down at infinite, I gave myself a sanity check. I measured 7 feet of distance between myself and a chair, set my lens at 7 feet (the closest my 150mm lens will go) and looked at the rangefinder. It was spot on :-).
FullSizeRender (4)

See those lines on the right in the photo? Yep, those illuminate the framelines in the viewfinder.

#5 – Vertical Alignment Adjustment

Now you’ll have to remove the top plate of the rangefinder assembly. Not difficult. There are two screws on the top which need to be removed. There’s a third screw in the upper left hand corner but no need to touch this one. The mirror sitting on a circular piece of metal is what we’re after (notice it on the right hand side of the photo). There’s a small silver flathead screw behind the mirror. This is not* as finely grained as the horizontal alignment and a quarter turn threw off the alignment pretty significantly.


#6 – Window cleaning

Now with your alignment all setup, why not clean all of the windows that let in the light to your RF?

I cleaned four windows:

  1. External main viewfinder window within the top plate (clean both sides)
  2. RF patch external window within the top plate (clean both sides)
  3. Front internal main viewfinder window – I only cleaned the outside. In order to clean the inside, I would have to disassemble more items and there was no need.
  4. Rear internal main viewfinder window – The same as above, I only cleaned the outside and didn’t want to disassemble more bits.

Now you could have some significant haze within your viewfinder. Depending on what glass that haze lives on, will dictate how much work you have to do. Likely it’s on one (or more) of the four aforementioned windows. In which case, cleaning is a breeze.

You’re camera should be sharp and as good as new.