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A Look at the 'Texas Leica'

Medium format film has seen a real resurgence in recent years, and with the right camera, you can create negatives that are far bigger than even the most expensive digital cameras. This neat video takes a look at one such camera, the Fuji GW690 II, affectionately known as the "Texas Leica," and the impressive images you can create with it. 

Coming to you from Nick Carver, this great video takes a look at the Fuji GW690 II medium format camera. Known as the "Texas Leica" due to its sharp lens and giant size, especially for a rangefinder, the GW690 II was popular for its gigantic negatives, its versatility, and its fantastic image quality. For reference, a 6x9 negative is over six times as big as a 36x24mm full frame negative, so it is easy to see how much detail you can get when you pair it with a good lens. I have had the GW690 III for about a decade now, and while I certainly will not pull it out for just anything due to the cost of film (particularly at this size), it is a special experience to shoot with when the time is right. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Carver. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Maybe just recognise each camera on its own merit instead of this constant comparison to a Leica, like calling the Fuji X-Pro series a 'budget Leica'. The experience from each camera brand will be totally different, especially 35mm vs medium format or aps-c in the Fuji's case.

This one is called “Texas” Leica not because of comparable spec or quality but just because in Texas a lot of things are made oversized and this camera looks like an oversized Leica rangefinder. The same way we can call a regular Leica a “mini” or “micro” Fujica.

I have the older one version, the GL690 with the 100mm lens and I am very happy with it. Being a rangefinder, it’s the ideal camera for infrared photography. I even made 24mm x 82mm color infrared panoramic landscapes by loading the camera with 35mm EIR film fixed to an adapted 120 film loading paper. Unfortunately color IR films are not available in 120 rolls…

How did you digitize the negatives?

The 24x82mm slides were scanned with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.

I loved those cameras I used to have the fixed lens version, one with a wide lens and one with a short tele lens on it, they where wonderful but I later changed to RZ simply for the lens choices and I was doing more studio work and it was just smarter in the studio compared to range finders, and I sort of liked the 6x7 better then 6x9. And even later I fell in love with the Mamiya 7 and that amazing 43 mm lens. Its still the most fantastic wide for interior architecture ive ever used.

Back in the 90's i used to have the fuji 645 fixed lens version which produced beautiful photos.

Way back when this camera was first introduced, I worked at one of the nations largest camera stores. No one there, nor anyone I encountered elsewhere, ever referred to this Fuji camera as a texas leica. Wierd name. Anyhow, we considered the Makina Plaubel 6X9 camera a better choice for convenient, lightweight yet excellent medium format photography, not counting Hasselblad.

I shot on of these in the 90's. Tons of fun. Get's expensive though. Not a lot of shots per roll