First Rolls | Fuji GA645 | Marc Nagainis

I have a theory about hunting for used cameras, wherein the closer you get to that payment sweet-spot, the more you will love that camera.  I’m frugal (ask my wife) so most of my purchases will tend to be low cost and high return. For me, it's not the kill, but the thrill of the chase.  I’m also not a collector, I’m a user and I shoot everyday. None of my cameras sit on a shelf and look pretty, although some don't get used anywhere near as much as they should.  I process all my own film at home, and scan to digital with an Epson v550. I have a B&W darkroom in the basement that will someday get the love it deserves.

I’d been jonesing for a medium format point and shoot for a couple of years now. I like higher end automatic rangefinder style cameras because they allow me to focus on the image rather than the settings.  It was one of those deep down wants that I’d feed on regular occasions with internet reviews and Ebay browsing.  LOTS of internet reviews and Ebay browsing… My favourites so far were the Fuji series of 645 cameras, the GA645vI and vII, the GA645W and Wi, and finally the GA645Zi.  The GS645, GS645S and GS645W were intriguing but didn’t rate as highly with me.  Mamiya 6/7’s were way out of my league because of their price and the Bronica RF645 didn't get the greatest reviews.  The GA645 was an exception to my inverse price vs. love rule as i paid $400 CDN for it, but the deal was sweetened by 50 odd rolls of 120 and 220 film included with it.  Any way you slice it, it was a hard deal to pass up, and I really like this camera now that I own it. I won’t bore you with the technical specs or detailed reviews, there are so many other writers who can and have done a much better job than I, that all I will share is my opinion. Everybody has one :)  here’s mine.

If you can find this camera at a price that makes sense to you, buy one.  Don't ever sell it, you’ll regret it.  Just. Buy. One.

If I was able to travel extensively and could only pack one camera, this would be it.  If I was able to take 2, I’d take my Hassy (as well as someone to carry it for me), and the Fuji, but that’s another story.  If I was lost on a desert island I would want this camera with me.  Is it really that good?  Yeah, in the sense that it’s a great all ‘rounder.  It’s not the fastest lens, it’s not the widest, it’s not the zoomy-est nor the quickest to focus.  It’s kinda loud when taking the pic and winding as well.  But man, the images are beautiful and you get 16 per roll of 120 AND it can handle 220 as well.  Bonus!.  Its got a sharp lens, a good walk around camera for the patient street shooter, decent enough flash for candid portraits or to light up your immediate subject, what’s not to love? Did I mention a nice sharp lens?  It’s nice and sharp.  Get one if you can.


Film photographer Marc Nagainis is based in Canada.  You can see more of his work on his website .