Exposure modes can be changed with the dial on the top shoulder of the camera. Exposure modes include P programmed auto, A aperture priority , AS aperture slow synchro mode and M manual exposure mode. Also on this dial is ISO; use the up and down dial on the shoulder to change a majority of settings. In A mode, the up down dial changes the aperture, in M mode pressing the exposure compensation button while rotating the up and down button changes the shutter settings.
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The Long Version: Fujifilm makes good cameras, and always have. While their most recent renaissance has surprised everyone, including Fuji, they have a long tradition of making quirky cameras that are genuinely designed for photographers. That must be why they also release more cheap mass-market point-and-shoot cameras per year than any other manufacturer — it keeps their marketing department distracted.
I was impressed enough by it to start looking at other medium format cameras, which is how I ended up owning its smaller sibling, the Fujifilm GAZi. The "6x4. Used properly, the format gives just as much usable image as a cropped 6x6 frame, with the advantage of having a few extra exposures per roll. But despite the similarity of the names, the Zi is a very different model from the other variants. The GA family of cameras have autofocus, power film loading and advance, built-in meters, and are completely at home in Program and Aperture Priority modes.
They have an exposure compensation button, but that and setting your own film speed are about it for over-rides. Yet for a camera with such simple operation, there is a bit of complexity to deal with: the mode dial has "A" and "AS" positions to choose from.
Both are aperture-priority, and the difference only matters when using the flash. The medium-format GA is about the size of a big 35mm SLR, but much smaller than a "pro" body, or even a midrange one with a compensator-pack strap-on handgrip. It has a vertical footprint - length times height - of about square centimeters, and a film surface of 23sqcm. That gives it a camera to sensor-size ratio of 7.
Even with that bit of rationalizing aside, the GAZi is a small camera in other ways as well. I found the vertical strap lugs too tempting to pass up and just carry the camera on a Domke shoulder strap most of the time. All it really needs is a few of extra rolls of film, and a new pair of CR batteries every year or two. Running film horizontally through the camera makes the negative 6cm high, so the width needs to be 4.
That gives the GA a natural portrait orientation, which takes a little getting used to at first. The viewfinder zooms along with the lens, in addition to having frame lines that change to give an approximation of the frame size at different focusing distances.
The viewfinder of the Zi leaves me with mixed feelings. I suspect that part of my uncertainty about the viewfinder comes from the tunnel effect; even with eyeglasses I have no problem seeing the full frame. The lens on the Zi is mm, which works out to about mm in 35mm equivalents — although in a rectangle, not — and it has two intermediate steps in its zoom.
The AF motor makes noise when working, and since the lens resets itself to infinity between focusing, the camera always makes its quick two-tone chirp, even for a quick follow-up shot of the same subject. Autofocus is quick, and by combining passive and active systems it can literally focus in complete darkness without needing an assist lamp. With just one AF point, the GZA cameras are big advocates of the focus-and-recompose style of photography. The Zi captures sixteen shots on a roll of film, and the film loads directly into the camera instead of being run through an insert.
I like that. The tremendous image quality in a relatively compact package, straightforward operation, and long battery life makes for a powerful travel camera. Autofocus makes it less taxing to use, auto film winding and advance means fewer chances for user error, and its somewhat goofy appearance should make it less attractive to the criminal underworld. This really is a medium-format camera that you could hand to a stranger in a tourist spot anywhere in the world, and not only get it back, but have them take a well-exposed and accurately focused photo with it as well.
The Zi is an incredibly stable camera to hand-hold in low light. For tripod-night photography the Zi is still a decent contender, even though adding a cable release and handheld light meter removes much of its size and simplicity advantages. Aperture priority mode will only meter down to 2 seconds, and beyond that needs the "bulb" mode to be set with the camera in manual mode.
Losing this display can cause some problems, and cameras without it should be considerably less expensive than fully-functional ones.
But there are a couple of work-arounds. There is an indicator in the viewfinder that shows when EV Comp is active, but not the amount or direction, although the exposure compensation is reset every time the camera is turned off.
So one way or another this can be set — in half-steps — by feel. Spin the dial a lot in one direction; camera-left turns the value down and camera-right turns it up. Simply count out: 25, 32, 40, 50, 64, 80, , , , , , , , , , , , , This could be a useful setting if the camera is being used with different sensitivities of Fuji film, but all of the film that I like is , and I typically choose a lower speed to force a certain amount of over-exposure anyway.
I see two main uses for the GAZi. The other role for a GA is as a secondary camera: the smaller, simpler companion to the main rig. Having one of these in the camera bag that also houses something more substantial, like a Hasselblad or a Fujifilm GX, means that only one type of film needs to be carried. I love being able to go out for a day with just a couple of rolls of film in my pocket and the camera in hand. I try to keep my camera bag under ten pounds when it holds everything for a trip; the Zi weighs two pounds and only needs film.
That might sound like an odd endorsement, but I spend most of my time with nothing pressing to photograph, so having a camera with great image quality but a less serious intent becomes a huge asset.
Having a little camera like the GAZi has been a huge help for that. All of the photographs for this review were taken on Fuji H film, including the photos of the camera, which were captured with my Fujifilm GXIII.
Since the Canadian Fuji reps were okay with me photographing their X prototype with my Zeiss Ikon while it was loaded with Kodak film, that only seems fair.
Camera review: Fuji GA645Zi
The Long Version: Fujifilm makes good cameras, and always have. While their most recent renaissance has surprised everyone, including Fuji, they have a long tradition of making quirky cameras that are genuinely designed for photographers. That must be why they also release more cheap mass-market point-and-shoot cameras per year than any other manufacturer — it keeps their marketing department distracted. I was impressed enough by it to start looking at other medium format cameras, which is how I ended up owning its smaller sibling, the Fujifilm GAZi. The "6x4. Used properly, the format gives just as much usable image as a cropped 6x6 frame, with the advantage of having a few extra exposures per roll.
FujiFilm GA645 Owner's Manual
Fujifilm GA645Zi Manuals
FujiFilm GA645Zi Owner's Manual