All my cameras (part 1) : Fuji 645 Zi

December 13, 2008

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I bought this camera second hand a few years ago. It was around $900 AUD then, not sure what they cost new. It’s a medium format camera & can take 120 & 220 size film. I’ve seen it described a few times as a luxury point & shoot which seems a fair description. It is easy to use in auto focus and auto exposure mode plus you get the high quality and resolution of a 4.5 x 6 cm film frame.

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It does have a manual focus option that I’ve never gotten used to. You press buttons on the back of the camera and input the focus distance on the small LCD screen. I’m so used to traditional manual focus by turning the lens that this process seems very strange, still it does have its uses.  You can manually input the ISO for push & pull exposure or if you use a custom EI for a particular film. There is also an exposure compensation function for the program & aperture priority modes.

It has a zoom lens that goes from 55 to 90, this would be equivalent to approx 35 to 70 on a 35mm camera which is a pretty useful range. This also brings one of the less desirable features of the camera, a maximum aperture that varies between f/4.5 to f/6.9 as you zoom. f/6.9 at 70mm is pretty slow for anything but daylight. This would be a problem on 35mm size film but of course with 645 we can use higher ISO film without having to worry about excessive grain.

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Another nice feature on this camera is that it will imprint the exposure data on the rebate (edge) of the film. Date, exposure mode, focal length, aperture and shutter speed. When holding the camera in normal horizontal position it is going to make a photo with portrait, or vertical framing. I think all 645 cameras do this. So it’s a good camera if you like to do vertical framing but don’t like having to turn your camera through 90 degrees all the time.

One thing to be careful of is that the back of the lens is exposed when you open the camera back to load film. The shutter is inside the lens, so there is no curtain behind it. One time I started to find black spots on my photos particularly at small apertures. It looked just like dust on a digital camera. I checked and saw that it was spots of dirt on the back of the lens. My assumption is that I had loaded some film on the street where there was some dirt floating about. I had it cleaned by a camera technician and have been more careful since when opening the back. All cameras have their little quirks & overall this is an excellent camera.

I sold this camera in early 2011 and put the proceeds towards part of the cost of a Deardorff 8×10 large format camera.

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