Disclaimer: the below is click bait. So is the above. The below is also a poorly-worded interloping account of a man against grammar and writing.
It’s a ridiculously familiar story: man starts with whisky, man hits up geek: gets lost; man loiters, cultivating his craft, garnering accolades and geek street cred. Man’s business expands. Man begins to hate his clunky A7r. And, many whiskies later, he wonders why the hell he’s wasting dosh renting Phase One backs. He saves. He saves. He saves. It’s a story you’ve heard a million times.
Except that this story doesn’t end with a Phase One back. It ends with a Hasselblad CFV-50c. And looking back, man remembers the painful steps: quitting Nikon for better live view, picking up a Sony A7r. But the A7r’s a bugger. It’s a nice sensor with naff RAWtitude. Man shrugs, uses the A7r for magazines and long-term geek shoots. Man rents something nicer when the price is right. But having paid too much of his income to rental and insurance corps., man says enough is enough. He springs for a Hasselblad CFV-50c. He marches out to National Photo, speaks to a gentleman known as Mr. Tanabe. They shake hands, and a huge box shows up at the man’s studio a week later.
A story you've heard a million times.
A story of a man taken in by stupid reviews. The man admits his stupidity. Reckons that the normals that review cameras care only about AF and non-RAW colours and customisability and brand fanboyism. The man doesn’t jive with that no more. He now jives with one thing and one thing only: what works for him. He doesn’t trust men with horse whips and skulls telling the world that format A is so much better than format B for no other reason than prior to B was A minus one and all that, that was way better. Man no longer trust rumour sites reviews, doesn’t trust DPReview reviews, doesn’t trust independent reviews that don’t first mention what they care about.
Man has finally grown up. And wet and firm, he’s got a middle finger up at you if you’re all about brand A or B for reasons that amount to ‘dials’, or ‘customisability’, or ‘size’, and especially ‘weight’. The man likes compact as much as the next man. But not at the expense of confusion, of button breeding, of automatically switching dials.
Man’s now using a Fujifilm GX680III. Man says piss off! to the dude or dudet that thinks it’s great just because it’s a Fujifilm. Or that it sucks because it is. Or that it is either because of its size. It is what it is.
And man’s still got a Fujifilm X-T1. He doesn’t use it, nor does he like it. Neither does his wife. Neither of them can use it without accidentally switching a dial or button. But he’s got one, bowed card door and all.
Be nice. Don’t kick man from the fold. I mean, for heaven’s sake, he likes how X lenses capture memories. Which probably is what attracted him to the biggest mass-produced SLR in history.
Check this thing out. It keeps you limping like a stolen watermelon under your shirt. Its lenses are bigger than the X-T1. And every one heavier. It’s weighs as much as lightweight 4x5 cameras.
Man’s got a trusted and talented colleague over in Greece that told him that its 30 year-old lenses are sharp. They are. In fact, here’s how the EBC 100mm F/4 and Hasselblad CFV-50c holds up to a Sinaron Digital 80mm F/4, the sharpest enlargement lens the man’s ever used. The Sinaron is backed up by the smaller, but, per square mm, equally pixel-packed A7r. 4:3 VS 3:2 ratio aside, the CFV-50c and A7r behind their lenses basically frame the same field.
Look at that (full image: GX680III Fujinon 100/4; A7r Sinaron 80/4)
NOTE: slight lighting differences are due to angle of view. The GX680 is a large camera. I couldn't find the exact footing to replicate the first image when taken by the X-ACT 2 / A7r combo. Therefore, the crops appear to be lighter around the 1,4 mark. In fact, it is just the angle at which the reflection from the softbox differs. Exposures are roughly equivalent.
Look at that (unsharpened: GX680 / CFV-50c left; X-ACT 2 / A7r right)
Look at that (sharpened: GX680 / CFV-50c left; X-ACT 2 / A7r right)
Look at that (sharpened and de-fringed: GX680 / CFV-50c left; X-ACT 2 / A7r right)
One things’ for sure, the CFV-50c and GX680III remember way more detail than does the A7r/Sinaron 80 combo, despite being neither quite as sharp nor quite as contrasty. Gosh... imagine that Sinaron on the CFV-50c. But man has no way to hook them together. The Sinaron needs a focal plane shutter. If only it didn’t.
Man must also note that his focus may have been a bit off. There’s no live view of any back when using the GX680III. When its mirror goes up, its shutter closes. Man may have sold his D800 for better live view, but man swears you must try the GX680III viewfinder. Huge, he says. Easy to focus, he says. Even so, it’s obvious, it’s almost-ancient lens’s packs several pixels of chromatic aberration. LR to the rescue, is one of the Man’s mottos.
Man’s been shooting MF backs and a Sony A7r on the Rollei X-ACT 2 view camera. Great for macro. But slow. Man loves how the GX680III is always ready to shoot another image. It’s an SLR. No need to manually open or close the lens prior to or after taking exposure. No need to cock the shutter. It’s all automatic. But it doesn’t do things you don’t ask it to. It’s modern, but not idiotic.
It’s not slaved to inaccurate helicoids or electronic motors. It’s on an incrementally toothed rail labelled in millimetres, almost like a view camera. Its lens tilts, swings, and rises and falls by 10mm, making perspective photography doable. Only its focus is geared. But it all works out, especially for near-macro stacked photography. Its focus rail can be extended by 40mm, getting the Man real close to the action. Man just wishes its extension were as stable as a Rollei X-ACT 2, but he’s pretty happy nonetheless.
Man likes that there’re myriad digital back adapters out there for the GX680III. He picked up one from Digital Arts, Japan. Because the GX680III is an SLR, it doesn’t need a ground glass slider at its focal plane. Man loves that the GX680III film and digital backs rotate 90º independently of the camera. Man is crazy over this. Man uses this function all the time. In fact, man went for the Rollei X-ACT 2 over other view cameras because of this.
Man has now slogged through three commercial shoots with the GX680III. He loves its lenses. He loves how it handles. He loves its clear, bright viewfinder. He loves swapping out the 90º viewfinder for a waste-level finder. Not that he’d carry the camera. He’s not hauled enough watermelons for that; his body isn’t ready.
Man sort of laments the loss of live view. But man’s got good glasses. Those glasses get thicker every year. Currently, they’re -6 in both eyes. Man shouldn’t rely on them too much. But the GX680III’s got a great diopter from -2 to +2. Twist the eyepiece and away goes the fuzz. That’s so solid. What’s not is what’s not. Man’s GX680III is full of plastic and lots of cheap parts. The GX680III focuses stably, and doesn’t twist, but even its focusing knob is pealing. He’s noticed that on every GX680III he’s touched. It’s no Arca, Alpa, or Linhof. It’s no Leica. But man reckons it’s not trying to be. It’s the digital modern flaming deal of the decade. Man’s seen GX680I’s go for about 150$. 250$ with a lens. That’s 250$ for a solid, reliable pseudo view camera, perfect for studio work.
Which is why Man’s picked up the following lenses:
He loves each one. He really appreciates Fujifilm’s lens designers. And in conjunction with a modern digital back, Man loves, loves, loves the ability to recover highlights, especially after working against Sony’s horrible, lossy RAW files for two years. That jump from a D800 to an A7r wasn’t smooth, but it was particularly egregious when regarding pixel peeping highlight/shadow contrast areas, which Man does for a living. Come to think of it, it even missed texture in non-contrasty places.
Man’s move from dSLR to mirrorless to SLR/digital back took two years too long. Man wasted money renting backs and adapters. Man wasted money on insurance. Man wasted money on the Sony. And, barring five events a year, he wasted money on the X-T1. Man was led astray by tribalist reviewers. Man’s wife agrees. But man wasn’t cheated by Fujifilm. The GX680III will last this year on its own, will prove more limber than Man’s view cameras, and faster to run. If it breaks, he can replace it for chump change. And man likes that this camera is bigger than his face.