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Almost a year ago I made a solemn promise to a friend: to put a roll of Acros through my massive Fujifilm GX680iii.

This is that roll.

Yes, I had meant to do this much more promptly, but it was 2020, so. On the bright side, during the October-June lockdown I learned how to develop my own film specifically so that I could use Perceptol for occasions like this.

These are white peonies that I bought myself for my wife's birthday; they're her favourite flowers. And given that they were a mere twenty feet away from the largest camera I'll ever own, it seemed like the perfect time to break out the big Fujifilm SLR and fulfill my promise. This photo was taken around f/32, with some shift applied, and is lit by both natural light and a couple of small LED panels. 

I took other photos as well – the GX680 gets nine per 120 roll – but this one is my favourite.

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The Fujifilm GX680iii is a pretty good camera.

I usually scan my medium format negatives on an old Canon 9000F flatbed. It does an okay job for pinholes and low-detail work – stuff for the web and sizes that I can print. But I wanted to see what my big neglected film Fuji could do, so I brought out my small neglected Fuji XT2 with its 80mm macro lens and built a rig for it to digitize negatives.

My digital cameras have sat dormant for so long that I needed to set them up from scratch, but with that out of the way the rest was pretty simple. And I managed to create a workable copy stand and light table without buying anything new, so that was nice.

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So I suppose this is a hybrid workflow: Fujifilm camera loaded with Fujifilm film that's made in the UK, home of Ilford, and developed in Ilford Perceptol, and then the negatives were photographed with a Fujifilm digital camera.

But these detail photos aren't crops – they're individual frames from the negative. The full photo, the lead image in this post, is a stitched image that's sixteen thousand pixels wide. The tiff file is 460MB, holding 195 megapixels, and that itself is cropped down from the 217 megapixel 'original' photo.

This may be excessive. 

I probably won't ever want to print this photo five feel wide – on fine-art paper, none of this canvas wrap cheating – to hang above the couch. (Or rather, I'd love to, but it would cost a fortune.) It's still absolutely worth the effort, once in a while, just to know that I could.

It's hard to do 100% crops on the internet; these screen shots should be a bit over two thousand pixels across. You can click on the photos above, or click this for the stem without the photo-hosting wrapper, or on this link for the petal. (It's hard to say how well any of those options will work on different screen sizes, sorry.)

I can't say that I'm disappointed. And keeping in mind that these are f/dark photos taken with a shutter speed somewhere around the one-second mark, I find myself wondering what the camera could do under more favourable circumstances and with a proper high-end scanner.

My film situation is somewhat perverse. When I want high quality I use my miniature format gear, like the Nikon F6 with its 24-35 f/2 zoom or 85/2.8 perspective-control lens with a heavy tripod, and then use a dedicated 35mm scanner. With medium format film I'm invariably – almost invariably – using a pinhole camera and basic scanner for low-resolution results.

I shoot 35mm like it's medium format, and get medium format quality from it, but I shoot medium format like it's a toy. 

The Fuji GX680 both upends and respects that mismatch. It has always been about using 120 film as if it's a 4x5, and dare I say it, it acts like it too. I'm not thinking of selling this beast any more – I just need to find more subjects that are worth using it.