Fuji G617 Review
I have had the pleasure and luck of borrowing a Fuji G617 on two occasions. This camera is pretty wonderful, actually and it is quite unique in its format, 6x17. While I have not had a ton of experience using it, I have shot quite a few rolls through the camera(s) and I figured I would jot down my thoughts on it.
The G617 is the cheapest camera one can purchase to get into 617 shooting, with the exception of lensless cameras like the Gaoersi, which cost more after purchasing a lens. The G617 has a fixed lens, 105mm F8, it is fixed in a focus helical that has a remarkably short focus throw. It is also scale focus. It shoots 120 and 220 film, giving the user 4 or 8 shots, respectively.
The camera's lens is also in the center of bump-rails so one does not damage the lens. In my experience, these do little else besides add bulk to an already bulky camera. There is a bubble level on this as well, but I preferred to put on in the cold shoe on the top of the camera. The camera has two cold/accessory shoes that you can put whatever you want in, flash, meter, rangefinder, cold beverage, whatever. I just used it for a bubble level.
The camera is large and operates the same way as any modern rangefinder camera works, just without the rangefinder. There is a viewfinder on top, but do not rely too much on this as it is not very accurate. I found that framing with this was just to get the general idea of what was in the frame. An example is the photos below; I framed up just the streetlight over to the red house next to the yellow.
One really nice feature about this camera, when compared to the cheaper 617 cameras, is the film advance lever. The lever is a quick way to advance the film, and it auto stops on the next frame, so the user does not have to look through a rear red window as you wind on. This might not seem like a big deal, but I really appreciated it.
The lens is sharp, as most Fuji optics are. The lens does benefit from a very expensive center filter (about 200 bucks) that some cameras do not have. Of course the camera works fine without it, but there will be vignetting, so if you're looking for one, make sure it has a center filter. With such a small aperture, most things with this lens are going to be in focus, so the fact that the focus range is so short was not a problem; most people are not going to shoot portraits with this camera, though I suppose it would be a possibility.
The camera does also shoot 220 film, which is great as it doubles your frame count from 4 per roll to 8 per roll. If you can find 220 film, I would suggest picking it up, as you can blow through a roll extremely fast with this camera.
The camera handles like a very large 35mm and can be handheld if one is so inclined, i preferred to use it on my tripod. It does have a good balance to it, as well. The shutter can be activated with the shutter button on the top of the camera, on the front of the camera, or on the lens. In addition to this, the film advance only advances the film, it does not cock the shutter, so you have to do that on the lens itself. You can do double exposures by simply not advancing the film.
Overall, for a starter or "cheap" 617 camera, the G617 is your ticket, the one-stop-shop, if you will. There is a newer version that has interchangeable lenses, which means interchangeable viewfinders, which means more to lose. All the images below were shot with this camera on a tripod with a cable release. Now all I have to do is find one, I'd love to actually own one.
The upgraded version, the GX617, can be viewed here.