Some 3 days after an impulse bid on eBay I was unboxing this camera. It was listed in fully working condition with the only flaw being the ISO dial losing its indentations making it prone to move around and loose its position. I has bought the first version of this camera sporting a 45mm lens and omitting a rangefinder. Its younger brother sports a 60mm lens protected by a curious looking bar resembling some sort of roll cage. The longer lens necessitates a rangefinder also. These "compact" Fuji 645 cameras are pretty rare in the UK, particularly this really wide version. I'd hoped this would be a good walk around 645 camera for me, and it has not disappointed.
First thing is that is bigger than you expect after only seeing images of it on the internet. It's plastic, seemingly pretty high grade, and not so weighty. It fits in the hand ok, could probably do with a bit more of a handgrip, but works nicely with my Peak Design Cuff wrist strap. The camera has basic controls: shutter speed selection from 1-1/500s in full stops and aperture from f5.6 to f22. Given the lack of rangefinder it'd be crazy to want anything with less depth of field than f5.6 in my humble opinion. The scale focus has indents at 2m and 5m which I guess must be there as most common settings for maximising the depth of field at f8 (or f11?) and f16 respectively. ISO setting goes up to 1600 and the meter reading inside the viewfinder is an illuminating -/O/+ type. Now the viewfinder, it may surprise you looking through it that its orientated vertically, and this may not sit well with you. For me it was actually a refreshing change. More and more I'm realising that using cameras with different characteristics can force you to change your perspective and help you see images that you wouldn't be apparent to you otherwise. I don't normally shoot vertical but I found this default setting of shooting vertical lead me to getting compositions I'm sure I would have been much less likely to try out on a landscape orientated camera. The film advance is a nice one and a half stroke. Finally the lens, as you can see from these images really nice and sharp. Unfortunately for me that it has a native 49mm filter thread, as I have a full set of 52mm filters, so I have installed a step up ring.
Overall this is definitely a keeper and I think will become my travel medium format camera. I'm realising I prefer the aspect ratio of 645 much better than 35mm, leading to me selling a few 35mm cameras to fund this one.