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View Poll Results: Have you hacked your XA? / which is better - XA or XA2?
No, I'd never alter a XA and shame on you for asking... 28 28.87%
Yes, I've not only made it better, but faster and stronger too 7 7.22%
The original XA lens rules, end of story, good night! 48 49.48%
Dispel the myth, the XA2 glass makes the best pictures and I am unanimous in this! 24 24.74%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 97. You may not vote on this poll

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Favorite XA (all types) hacks & is the XA2 lens better?
Old 11-18-2008   #1
eli griggs
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Favorite XA (all types) hacks & is the XA2 lens better?

I'm sure I'm not the only photographer to have fantasied at one point or another about finding a way to use filters with or make a lens shade for, a XA camera of one sort or another.

Years ago, with my first XA, I would sometimes hold Kodak gel filters for b&w in front of the lens and as I did so, I'd wonder, what can I do to make this easier, without wrecking my camera?'.

Tonight I read in an older thread where some folks are using duck tape to secure XA cameras to street signs, etc for steady rest. What do you do with your XA class cameras to enhance or augment it's photographic potential?

How here has tried to improve fading rangefinder focusing with colored filter or markers or bits of black tape and how did it work out for you?

I'd also like to know your opinion; is the XA2 lens a better lens than the original XA glass?

Having only XA2s at the moment and wondering where I can find this 'cult' camera at a reasonable price, I have to ask, is it worth the effort and extra expense over the cameras I have now, image wise that is? In a side by side, which lens delivers the best image and , if there IS a difference, why is it better?

Lets hear it, what's your take on this subject... ?

Eli
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Old 11-19-2008   #2
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I think, it's hard to compare them. Simply because XA lets you set aperture, while XA2 doesn't. Comparing f2.8 to f8 is mixing apples to oranges. Guessing what aperture chose XA2 is task I'd do after I've finished taking pics.

XA2 has nice, sharp and contrasty lens. When I want to be sure about aperture, I grab any from those compact cameras allowing this adjustment. Let's say, tiny Yashica Electro 35 MC (not same as GSN). I wonder why XA is cult camera and MC isn't. In fact, MC does the same what XA does and costs nothing. Oh, it's scale focus only. It takes regular 46mm screw-in filters, not rare unusual size push-on filters. XA shooters who use RF focusing with tiny and long ago faded patch, will be disappointed. Sorry, in this respect MC can not substitute XA. Sorry again.
Most important feature of XA is aperture control, missing on XA2. Not lens, not VF, not anything else.

I just wish I would start using MC before reading too much on "cult cameras", I'd have taken much more pictures. That said, opportunity to try many great cameras can become pitfall, trapping shooter in realm of test shots and periods of adaptation.

And finally, if you want XA so badly, just get it and see that pictures look very similar to pics from XA2
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Old 11-19-2008   #3
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I used to use an XA4 (the 28mm f3.5). But they were limited production and rarely available now. Mine got trashed in a street accident in China. Well worth looking out for.

As for duck/duct tape I'd prefer to use gaffer tape because of no sticky residue. Although in one of the Star Wars movies there is the line "Duct tape is like the Force, it has a light side and a dark side, and it binds the Galaxy together".
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Old 11-19-2008   #4
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"The force is an energy field creating by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together."

Sorry my inner Star Wars geek was offended.

The XA's rangefinder patch is of limited utility. You end up basically scale focusing it anyway. As for the lens it's OK. Lots of flare and vignetting. Not sure how it compares to the XA2 but I wouldn't spend too much on an XA for the lens. For the kind of quick snapshot photos that I think you end up using the XA for, the ability to set the aperture is also I think over-rated. The lens is faster than the XA2 though, 2.8 vs 3.5 which could make a difference.

I like the design of all the XA's better than almost any other super compact camera. They are tiny, quiet and the sliding lens cap blows (barn) doors on the Contax T1 or Minox Style cover.
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Old 11-19-2008   #5
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Both are super-silent and great stealth cameras...
no one looks twice at you when you're shooting one.
I have both - pre focus the XA, jus like the XA2 - so not
much difference in using either one.
Very little difference in the results IMO.
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Old 11-19-2008   #6
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I think the XA rangefinder patch is fine - depending on your own specimen. Some are faded, no doubt.

I do own both, and I like the XA2, but in general, I have found the XA to have a demonstrably-better lens than the XA2. I have (had) two of each, so I had a slightly larger sample size that perhaps typical.
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Old 11-19-2008   #7
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nightfly: Thank you for the clarification.


I am very tempted by the XA's much newer cousin the mju-V which was expensive when new but now very affordable LNIB from Ffordes or Luton Cameras. This is the polished aluminum camera with sliding cover like the XA.
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Old 11-19-2008   #8
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The lens on the XA is fine and dandy, good day!
However, the lens on XA4 simply rocks!

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Old 11-19-2008   #9
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I really like that photo, Will.
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Old 11-19-2008   #10
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I agree with Will. The XA4 "simply rocks". Another piece advice I got from Will is try shooting E6 with it. I never even considered it until he showed us some photos.
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Old 11-19-2008   #11
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@ f2.8, the XA-2 lens doesn't even come close to the XA lens.
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Old 11-19-2008   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfly View Post
The XA's rangefinder patch is of limited utility.
I get along with mine quite nicely, thank you. Some XAs need a cleaning due to age of course, maybe some will never be useful due to deterioration of the patch because of environmental factors. But a good one performs quite well. You also have to learn to centre your eye. In dim light the patch is problematic, I'll give you that. But a blanket statement that the XA patch is of limited utility is, IMO, not correct.
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Old 11-20-2008   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
I really like that photo, Will.
Glad you like it Bill, my daughter took that one, the XA4 fits her hands (she was three)
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Old 11-20-2008   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agi View Post
I agree with Will. The XA4 "simply rocks". Another piece advice I got from Will is try shooting E6 with it. I never even considered it until he showed us some photos.
... and kids, yeah that's you newcomers to RFF, if you want to see a proper street-photography using XA4, you owe it to yourselves to check out John's Alapan blog.
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Old 11-20-2008   #15
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Will you're too kind.
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Old 12-04-2008   #16
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I prefer the original XA, though the rangefinder patch is and always has been dim. With age, dust settles on the mirror and it gets dimmer. Some people have put a small piece of yellow wratten filter over the rf window and that improves contrast a little. John, www.zuiko.com
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Old 12-15-2008   #17
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I sold my XA as I didn't really get on with it. The look of the images didn't suit me and I didn't like the ergonomics [mine was all working fine, decent rangefinder patch, etc.]

I did prefer the photos I took with the XA2. I don't know for sure if they were sharper as I didn't 'stress test' the XA2 in the same way [wide open, close-up, etc.] but I certainly didn't think there was as much vignetting and the lens seemed sharper on landscape type stuff.
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Old 12-15-2008   #18
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Loved my XA and thought the lens better than the XA2. Having Leicas as well, I always found it difficult to use the rangefinder patch because of the short focus throw, so I generally used scale focus on the camera.
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Old 12-15-2008   #19
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I'm quite impressed how the little XA handles flare. Check out



RF patch is very usable on mine, too. Still cann't believe that I got it for 20 bucks.

Roland.
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Old 12-24-2008   #20
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I've not used the XA only because I'd prefer something a little bigger if I'm using rangefinder focusing. I've used an XA2 for a while and enjoy it a lot.
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Old 12-24-2008   #21
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The main statement should be, that there is no bad XA in the whole series. Even the XA1 with its fixed focus is a nice snapshooter. The GAS says: "Have all of them!"

Three samples from the XA, the XA1 and the XA2 - find out which camera for each picture!
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Old 12-25-2008   #22
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Isn't hard to compare sharpness of XA2 with XA because it depends a lot of aperture, chosen by AE? That said, brightly lit scene isn't problem at all, while in dim light wide open it will depend on how well one guesses hyperfocal distance for possible aperture, I think.
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Old 01-05-2009   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petronius View Post
The main statement should be, that there is no bad XA in the whole series. Even the XA1 with its fixed focus is a nice snapshooter. The GAS says: "Have all of them!"

Three samples from the XA, the XA1 and the XA2 - find out which camera for each picture!
Ok, I'll take a stab, XA1, XA, and XA2. Am I close?
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Old 01-26-2009   #24
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Hi,

You can get XA2's for a couple of pounds in England (well, I have). There is much that's good about them, especially if you've dropped a RF XA and found out what the repair will cost (well, I have - II).

Funny thing: I dropped an XA2 once and it improved the pictures a lot. I've often wondered about it... Probably just a lucky accident; like falling out of bed and finding it cured your back problems...

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Old 01-26-2009   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox View Post
Ok, I'll take a stab, XA1, XA, and XA2. Am I close?
Sorry, not close!
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Old 02-09-2009   #26
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I've got XA and XA2.

They are almost identical in size, but IMO quite different in use.

In sunny day I prefer XA2, because the scale focus is quicker. The positions are 1.5m (5ft), 3m (10ft), 6m (20ft) to infinity. In sunny day there is enough light so the camera closes its aperture and there is enough DOF.

The XA isn't as fast in bright daylight. At least for me. I tend to change aperture and focus, but if pre-set or if you can set the focus by feel it can be used the same way as XA2.
A big plus for XA is the backlight compensation lever (exposure +1.5) for occasions when you are photographing someone backlighted and the camera exposure system could get fooled.

The exposure metering is very good on both cameras by the way.

Regarding the lenses - I think the XA2 4-element ("Tessar") lens is sharper, but it may as well be that it's more contrasty, but the images appear sharper.

There is another big difference: the XA feels much more fragile. And I'm speaking from experience. I once dropped XA about 1m on capeted floor and the front sliding cover went flying and something got stuck inside. No matter how I moved the focus lever - the RF patch wouldn't move, so I ended up with scale focus for the day. XA2 on the other hand feels more robust - probably because there is no RF or exposure readout mechanism.

BTW: the RF patch on XA is poor indeed. But I managed to put a ND filter (actually a clear piece of unexposed developed BW film) over the main VF window. The view is a bit darker, but the RF patch is much much more visible. I put it there when I had the top cover off to repair stuck rangefinder :/
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Old 11-15-2013   #27
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I have had both cameras and I concur with your opinion.
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Old 11-16-2013   #28
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Hack: I put one of these on the back of my XA. Once it's on, it stays on: http://www.theclip.com/store/product...roductid=16218
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Old 11-16-2013   #29
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I prefer the XA3, because someone has to. Metered exposure to 1600 ASA, exposure compensation, what is not to love. Too many people see those "DX" letters and run away, but it is the easiest hack ever to override DX coding. The lens is different than the XA2, at least in the way that it focuses (interior helicoid on the XA3, lens barrel rotates on the XA2), I don't know if it is optically any different or not, but the camera is foolproof, and I should know about that.
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Old 11-16-2013   #30
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Hi,

Why not just buy a case for the XA etc? They come in 3 or 4 versions and often appear on ebay. The one I see most often comes in two length for the A11 or A16 attached and has a belt loop.

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Old 11-16-2013   #31
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I sold several XA2 cameras, and (by mistake) sold the XA4 for $40.
I still use the XA. It is a very good small light camera.
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Old 11-16-2013   #32
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I own the XA, XA1 and XA2, but I haven't shot the 1 or 2 yet. It's interesting to hear that the XA2 is sharper. I guess that's next on my list.

Any differences in terms of how long the shutter can stay open between the XA and XA2?
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Old 11-17-2013   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliveC View Post
I own the XA, XA1 and XA2, but I haven't shot the 1 or 2 yet. It's interesting to hear that the XA2 is sharper. I guess that's next on my list.

Any differences in terms of how long the shutter can stay open between the XA and XA2?
Hi,

Just looked in the manuals and the XA goes from 10 sec's to 1/500th but the XA2 (and XA3) go from 2 sec's to 1/750th, which is interesting. More interestingly, the XA1 is either a 30th or a 250th, which suggests Trip 35 parentage.

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Old 11-20-2013   #34
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Hi,

Just read the title again, and is the XA2 better? Well, this was taken with the XA2...



Will it do?

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Old 03-08-2014   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,

Just looked in the manuals and the XA goes from 10 sec's to 1/500th but the XA2 (and XA3) go from 2 sec's to 1/750th, which is interesting. More interestingly, the XA1 is either a 30th or a 250th, which suggests Trip 35 parentage.
Right, XA2 has 1/750 top speed at f/14 and [email protected]/3.5
Interesting if XA's top 1/500 is at same f/14 or f/16? Just looked up and XA stops down to f/22

So in fact we have to compare effective EV's instead of absolute numbers.

Nica picture, David.
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Old 03-08-2014   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btgc View Post
Right, XA2 has 1/750 top speed at f/14 and [email protected]/3.5
Interesting if XA's top 1/500 is at same f/14 or f/16? Just looked up and XA stops down to f/22

So in fact we have to compare effective EV's instead of absolute numbers.

Nica picture, David.
Hi,

Thanks, a bit cheesy (the picture) but I wondered if the camera would cope given the wide dynamic range of the scene. Also it says a lot for the cheap supermarket film I buy whenever it is going super cheap (under UKP2) and there's space in the fridge.

If f/22 is available then I wonder how the lens performs there...

Regards, David

PS It's York Minster and the city is not on the tourist routes although a few manage to get there. I got some nice shots inside it too with the same little camera.
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Old 03-08-2014   #37
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Loooove my XA4. The 28mm is a forgiving focal length for the kind of candid street photography I prefer with a camera this size and is definitely sharper than the 35mm f/3.5 lens on the XA2 (still a great camera though).

Is the XA4 worth the premium? I've had mine for almost 3 years and never had an issue yet went through 2 XA2s that died shortly after I started using them before finally finding a good one. I bought my girlfriend (now fiancée) a Yashica 35 MC for a birthday present after a trip to Lemon Cameras in Tokyo one year and although it is one of my favourite small cameras (Yashica T4 Super and Olympus 35RC being the others), it doesn't have the pocket friendly or discreet styling of the XA line. People quite often think you are holding a strange bulbous sort of calculator with an XA, not a camera.

Apologies if this is off topic but I haven't come across a need to gaffer tape any of my XA cameras yet. They are firmly held in one hand at all times just...waiting.
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Old 03-09-2014   #38
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I had to have an XA when it debuted. There was simply nothing like it.
Later when the XA2 came out I bought one for a then-girlfriend to use.

Over the years I got some very nice photos from my little XA.
But I grew tired of the hard-to-see RF patch and fiddly controls.

A few years ago I sold the XA and tried the XA2, which I had callously kept.
After some growing pains I discovered the XA2 was every bit the equal of the XA,
yet faster and easier to use. I have since added a second XA2 and an XA3.

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Old 03-11-2014   #39
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I love my XA. I thought I'd find it fiddly because of my big hands (and fat fingers), and that the lens might be a bit substandard, but it worked out fine. I didn't get on with the XA1 at all, though the lens was probably the best on a fixed focus camera short of the Minox 35AL.

The XA is the camera I'd always dreamed of having - a Minox with a rangefinder. OK, so my photograaphy has moved on a bit, but it is a good and easy carry.

Would I 'hack' it? Well, there's no way to fit a filter, which is ever so slightly annoying, but that's it, really.
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Old 03-11-2014   #40
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About a year ago I picked up an XA and an XA1 and completed my "set" - I'll admit I haven't tried the XA1, at all, and one roll in the XA hasn't been enough to make me want to use it over the XA2 (best $30 I ever spent!), which has kept me company on many of my travels - a year ago I broke my M6 on the first day of a holiday in Thailand, and only had the XA2 as backup. It delivered!

I've found I have trouble keeping the XA4 straight when I shoot, but I guess I just have to shoot it differently.
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