More Thoughts about the Fujifilm GW670III

I was tapping away at this and that on my laptop recently. I listen to my Apple Music on shuffle most of the time. As I worked, I came across the song Silo Lullaby by Toad the Wet Sprocket, originally offered as a “hidden bonus track” on the CD Coil in 1997.

When I first got Coil, I used my made-from-scraps Windows 3.1 386-processor desktop computer to unhide the track, and played it many times. Later, in 1999, I went on a photo trip to New Mexico, called Villanueva, the tiny hamlet where I borrow a friend’s cabin, and still listened to Toad all the time. So, as can happen with music and the way it leads places in our imaginations, Silo Lullaby became something of an anthem, at least between my own ears, for that week in the desert.

That week in New Mexico was inspired by the beginnings of the move from printing film to scanning film at my newspaper, which meant I was suddenly in possession of rather a lot of orphaned black-and-white film and paper. What to do with it? Head west!

The Villanueva trip was a great opportunity to use my Fujifilm 6×7 GW670III, a rangefinder camera with a fixed 90mm f/3.5 lens, which was very sharp. The 6×7 negatives that came out of that camera were full of an amazing amount of detail.

The flaws of the Fuji in my workflow in New Mexico, however, remained as obvious as they had all those times I tried to use it in the newsroom: too slow to focus, plasticky controls, and because it was a rangefinder and used a mechanical parallax compensation system in the viewfinder, it was never really possible to take full advantage of the much larger area of the 6×7 cm frame size because something always ended up getting cropped in or out.

I was, and still am, pretty good with a rangefinder, since my first camera, a Yashica Electro 35 GSN I got for Christmas when I was 13, used a rangefinder. I had more time and less film in those days, so I spent a lot of time practicing with the rangefinder.

I don’t want to say my Fuji 6×7 was a failed purchase, but it certainly didn’t revolutionize my fine art photography.

In the end, I have built a career on discovering what does and doesn’t work for my photography styles; news, sports, illustration, fine art, travel, and on and on; and though I wish it had, the Fuji 6×7 just never worked for me.

Your humble host poses for a snapshot at White Sands National Monument on a sunny morning in September 2000. Hanging from my neck is the camera in question, the Fuji GW670III Professional 6x7, wearing a B+W deep orange filter.
Your humble host poses for a snapshot at White Sands National Monument on a sunny morning in September 2000. Hanging from my neck is the camera in question, the Fuji GW670III Professional 6×7, wearing a B+W deep orange filter.

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