Sterling Black , Sep 17, 1997; 09:09 p.m.
Ah, yes, the Texas Leica--you gotta love 'em. I have the 90mm (GW690) series II and the 65mm (GSW690) III. The optics were not changed at all between the II and the III, nor did they need to be, as they are excellent. The cameras are great: the largest non-panoramic medium-format negs around (same proportion as 35mm), great optics, very sturdy, two shutter releases, good viewfinder, no battery, handy pairing of shutter/aperture setting rings, extremely affordable. (I'm not gushing like this just because I'm interested in selling mine! --Phil G. can corroborate, as I recall.) Some people see as downsides that there is no lens interchangeability and no light meter, but these are design choices that keep the cameras reasonably priced and almost indestructible. My only gripes: exposures over a second are a pain (you have to grasp the shutter speed ring and turn it to close the shutter; I put a small black cloth over the front while I do this to prevent shake); the shutter/aperture rings can be tough to handle with gloves on (but this is otherwise an almost ideal cold-weather camera); you can't use step up rings to larger filters (both cameras take 67mm) because the telescoping lens hood must be extended to access the shutter/aperture rings; in the GSW the lower right corner of the viewfinder is obscured by the lens (not unheard of in other rangefinders); and, of course, I wish that 65mm were faster than 5.6 (not a big deal, tho). It takes two shutter strokes to cock these cameras (you're moving 3.5 inches of film!), but they won't fire until fully cocked so that's no problem. The III version looks more aerodynamic and has the much niftier quick-release film spools but otherwise I think is unchanged. Both are very simple, VERY good designs! Enjoy!