Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > 35mm Film Range Finders > Fixed Lens RF

Fixed Lens RF This forum is dedicated to the numerous and popular fixed lens rangefinders, including but not limited to the Canon Canonets, Konica III and S series, Minoltas, Ricohs, Vivitars, and so many others. Note fixed lens Olympus , Yashicas, Argus and Retina have separate forums.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes

Olympus XA - Great Camera, but have Questions
Old 04-02-2009   #1
chris00nj
Young Luddite
 
chris00nj's Avatar
 
chris00nj is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Texas
Age: 36
Posts: 1,022
Olympus XA - Great Camera, but have Questions

I got my "new" Olympus XA today. I'm already a big fan as it will fill a void in my gear: a high quality camera that fits in my pocket. I foresee me carrying and using this a lot when I don't feel bringing a larger camera.

However, I have a couple questions:
  1. The rangefinder patch is generally hard to see, and is impossible to see in lower light. Is there a way to better this?
  2. While the meter seems reasonably accurate, is the meter accurate enough to reliably use slide film with its +1/3 stop tolerance?
__________________
My Camera Family


Flickr

Blog
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-02-2009   #2
Trius
Waiting on Maitani
 
Trius's Avatar
 
Trius is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Rochester, NY & Toronto area
Posts: 7,746
1 -- centre your eye,and/or consider having the XA cleaned
2 -- yes. Kodachrome is superb in the XA
__________________
My Gallery Flickr
Fine grain is a bourgeois concept

Happiness is APX100 and Rodinal 1:100

A bunch o cameras. Does it really matter?
http://weedram.blogspot.com
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-02-2009   #3
FA Limited
planespotting
 
FA Limited is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Toronto
Posts: 799
you can put some tape on the or use some black marker on the VF window to increase the contrast of the patch
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-02-2009   #4
planetjoe
Just some guy, you know?
 
planetjoe's Avatar
 
planetjoe is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Pasadena, CA
Posts: 480
Quote:
Originally Posted by FA Limited View Post
you can put some tape on the or use some black marker on the VF window to increase the contrast of the patch
I've done this, and it did make some difference for a time. I also did it on my Canon P; in the latter case it was a HUGE improvement over the stock RF/VF.

For the XA, the RF window is simply very small, and the light gathering capability (hence the contrast) of the system is limited. In the end, I sold my XA because the RF/VF was frustrating in low light, where I do much of my casual shooting.

It was a shame, though; the XA was so much fun to carry and shoot that I wish I still had it. My advice is to learn to live with it, and keep it in your kit - learn to live with its limitations and use it for its strengths.

Enjoy!


Cheers,
--joe.
__________________
joe r, court jester and hanger-oner

Too much gear; too few images.

My RFF Classifieds Feedback
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-02-2009   #5
mh2000
Registered User
 
mh2000's Avatar
 
mh2000 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,032
yes, the RF sucks... they sucked even when brand new (I bought mine new). The lenses are only ok IMO... I think they had to make some serious compromises to make such a compact design. In the end I am more happy with my Minox GL, better optics, better scale for guess focusing and even smaller... not that I plan on selling my XA, but I don't use it much either...
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-02-2009   #6
drewbarb
picnic like it's 1999
 
drewbarb's Avatar
 
drewbarb is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 1,342
Yes, the XA is a great camera to stick in your pocket. Ther RF patches in the ones I've had all suck- but the distance scale on top of the focusing ring is easy to read. By estimating subject distance and understanding D.O.F., it's pretty easy to get good sharp results quickly without trying to focus through the finder; just be careful shooting close up. Indeed, th e coverage and generous depth of field is a real benefit to the 35mm focal length lens. Remembering that at six feet away, your field of vision is six feet wide helps too. If you apply some thought to what you are doing, it's pretty easy to shoot with this camera without looking through it at all.

It's always my fault when film- including chromes- I put through my XA's is poorly exposed. (Of course, as always, test new gear.)
__________________
-drew
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-03-2009   #7
Trius
Waiting on Maitani
 
Trius's Avatar
 
Trius is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Rochester, NY & Toronto area
Posts: 7,746
The lens doesn't suck. Period.

My VF and patch work well. No, not as bright and contrasty as ZI, M, R or even my 35SP. But it is quite useable and while low light is more challenging, of can be done with practice. YMMV.
__________________
My Gallery Flickr
Fine grain is a bourgeois concept

Happiness is APX100 and Rodinal 1:100

A bunch o cameras. Does it really matter?
http://weedram.blogspot.com
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-03-2009   #8
chris00nj
Young Luddite
 
chris00nj's Avatar
 
chris00nj is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Texas
Age: 36
Posts: 1,022
Quote:
Originally Posted by FA Limited View Post
you can put some tape on the or use some black marker on the VF window to increase the contrast of the patch
Thanks for the tip and I think through dumb luck ended up with an even better solution.

I kept trying to put tape in the right position with minimal viewfinder blockage, but it was never to my satisfaction. What ended up happening is that the glue residue left by me repeitvely pulling the tape off provided enough of a block to make the rangefinder very apparent in low light. The glue residue also isn't strong enough to block any of the viewfinder, as a black marker or a larger piece of tape might.
__________________
My Camera Family


Flickr

Blog
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2009   #9
FallisPhoto
Registered User
 
FallisPhoto's Avatar
 
FallisPhoto is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,323
The meters were accurate when new. No telling whether your particular meter is still accurate after 30+ years though. You'll just have to shoot a roll or two and find out.

The rangefinder patch is ... well, ... the viewfinder is small, and so is the patch. This isn't ideal for low light work. If yours is even dimmer than usual though, the obvious solutions are to either replace the mirror or clean the viewfinder, depending on which solution seems most likely to work best. I never did think much of that "brighten the patch by putting black tape on the viewfinder" fix. It's like patching bellows: a temporary solution to the problem at best. Seems to me that the best solution would be to replace the mirror with one that has slightly lowered transmission characteristics and that gives you a brighter patch. Alternatively, if the mirror is working as it should, you could try replacing the viewfinder window in front of the mirror with a piece of glass from a 1 stop neutral density filter.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2009   #10
MXP
Registered User
 
MXP is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 156
I think the rangefinder patch is ok but not as good as more expensive cameras (Leica, Voigtländer etc.). Try to hold the camera up in front of you with light comming from the back and look through the rangefinder window. It shall be very clear without any dirt.
The automatic exposure is accurate but the needle on my camera is off. It shows much to low shutter times. I have heard that many other has this problem. It is probably a variable resistor that has to be adjusted......
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2009   #11
chris00nj
Young Luddite
 
chris00nj's Avatar
 
chris00nj is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Texas
Age: 36
Posts: 1,022
Quote:
Originally Posted by MXP View Post
....The automatic exposure is accurate but the needle on my camera is off. It shows much to low shutter times. I have heard that many other has this problem. It is probably a variable resistor that has to be adjusted......
My needle seems to show about a stop fast? Is the actual shutter speed faster or is the speed off?
__________________
My Camera Family


Flickr

Blog
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-05-2009   #12
Trius
Waiting on Maitani
 
Trius's Avatar
 
Trius is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Rochester, NY & Toronto area
Posts: 7,746
The display in the VF sometimes appears to be off. The actual exposure will be fine unless the meter needs calibration.
__________________
My Gallery Flickr
Fine grain is a bourgeois concept

Happiness is APX100 and Rodinal 1:100

A bunch o cameras. Does it really matter?
http://weedram.blogspot.com
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-07-2009   #13
MXP
Registered User
 
MXP is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris00nj View Post
My needle seems to show about a stop fast? Is the actual shutter speed faster or is the speed off?
The actual shutter times are correct. But meter my meter shows shutter times which are to slow so I don't look at it but I listen to the shutter to hear if the shutter sounds to slow to be hand held. If is sounds as one click it is ok. Two clicks very fast after each other then the snutter time is about 1/15 and it may be ok......it depends :-)
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-07-2009   #14
Trius
Waiting on Maitani
 
Trius's Avatar
 
Trius is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Rochester, NY & Toronto area
Posts: 7,746
Quote:
Originally Posted by MXP View Post
The actual shutter times are correct. But meter my meter shows shutter times which are to slow so I don't look at it but I listen to the shutter to hear if the shutter sounds to slow to be hand held. If is sounds as one click it is ok. Two clicks very fast after each other then the snutter time is about 1/15 and it may be ok......it depends :-)
With good technique the XA is good to 1/4s or maybe slower.
__________________
My Gallery Flickr
Fine grain is a bourgeois concept

Happiness is APX100 and Rodinal 1:100

A bunch o cameras. Does it really matter?
http://weedram.blogspot.com
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-07-2009   #15
FallisPhoto
Registered User
 
FallisPhoto's Avatar
 
FallisPhoto is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,323
Quote:
Originally Posted by MXP View Post
The actual shutter times are correct. But meter my meter shows shutter times which are to slow so I don't look at it but I listen to the shutter to hear if the shutter sounds to slow to be hand held. If is sounds as one click it is ok. Two clicks very fast after each other then the snutter time is about 1/15 and it may be ok......it depends :-)
Is the battery fresh? are the contacts clean?
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-07-2009   #16
MXP
Registered User
 
MXP is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto View Post
Is the battery fresh? are the contacts clean?
Yes battery and contacts are ok. I think the problem with meter showing to slow shutter speed but actual speed ok may be a problem with a component which may have changed over time....e.g. a variable resistor. Most XA's may have developed this problem over time?
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-07-2009   #17
MarkoKovacevic
Registered User
 
MarkoKovacevic is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 468
The only problems I had with my XA were dim RF, which I fixed with black tape, and seals gummed up, which I replaced today!
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-07-2009   #18
ludoo
Registered User
 
ludoo's Avatar
 
ludoo is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Milan, Italy
Posts: 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by MXP View Post
Yes battery and contacts are ok. I think the problem with meter showing to slow shutter speed but actual speed ok may be a problem with a component which may have changed over time....e.g. a variable resistor. Most XA's may have developed this problem over time?
There are a few resistors on top which I think are tied to the meter indicator in the viewfinder and might have drifted off (carbon resistors tend to age with time).



Or something simpler might have happened if the camera has been opened in the past: the meter assembly might have moved slightly from its correct position. It happened on my XA when I cleaned the rangefinder, and given that the top cover tends to get stuck when you remove it, I think it's a pretty frequent occurrence, frequent enough that there's a drawing with the correct alignment in the XA service manual.

The fix is pretty easy: the indicator assembly pivots on a central screw, so you can gently rotate it until it points to the correct speed. See this pic



On my XA, I aligned it by putting a tiny bit of upward (as my meter indicated faster speeds) pressure in one of the two elongated holes you see left of the screw keeping the indicator assembly in place.

Whatever you do to the indicator has no effect on the programmed exposure as the two circuits are different.

Last edited by ludoo : 04-07-2009 at 12:21.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-07-2009   #19
MXP
Registered User
 
MXP is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 156
Thank you very much for the fine images. My XA has never been opened but the meter may have turned a bit. As you write the shutter times are ok regardless of what the meter shows and this is the most important. It is a shame such a good lens is put into such a poor body :-) most of the body is made of plastic. Funny that the back is made of metal. But the camera works very well I must admit.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-07-2009   #20
FallisPhoto
Registered User
 
FallisPhoto's Avatar
 
FallisPhoto is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,323
Quote:
Originally Posted by MXP View Post
Yes battery and contacts are ok. I think the problem with meter showing to slow shutter speed but actual speed ok may be a problem with a component which may have changed over time....e.g. a variable resistor. Most XA's may have developed this problem over time?
Are you telling us that the camera is autoexposing okay? The meter is showing, let's say, 1/125 second while the shutter is actually operating at 1/250th second? It is just that the indicator is off?
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-08-2009   #21
MXP
Registered User
 
MXP is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto View Post
Are you telling us that the camera is autoexposing okay? The meter is showing, let's say, 1/125 second while the shutter is actually operating at 1/250th second? It is just that the indicator is off?
Yes, exactly so it is not really a practical problem. I just listen to the shutter.
To have the meter reach 1/500th I have to direct the camera into the sun.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-08-2009   #22
ludoo
Registered User
 
ludoo's Avatar
 
ludoo is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Milan, Italy
Posts: 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto View Post
Are you telling us that the camera is autoexposing okay? The meter is showing, let's say, 1/125 second while the shutter is actually operating at 1/250th second? It is just that the indicator is off?
If you look at the schematics and parts list on the XA Service Manual, you will see there are two distinct CdS cells: one for the shutter ("ES5011 CdS cell for shutter"), one for the meter ("ES5013 CdS cell for meter"). So you can disconnect, rip off, or short the meter and the auto exposure will still work.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-08-2009   #23
FallisPhoto
Registered User
 
FallisPhoto's Avatar
 
FallisPhoto is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,323
Quote:
Originally Posted by MXP View Post
Yes, exactly so it is not really a practical problem. I just listen to the shutter.
To have the meter reach 1/500th I have to direct the camera into the sun.
Do you have a multimeter? Can you check the circuit to the meter? I don't think that the meter's "guts" have gotten turned (I just can't imagine how that could happen), although that solution to fixing the problem might work. I think that you have a corroded wire, a short or a bad solder in there somewhere.
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-08-2009   #24
MXP
Registered User
 
MXP is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto View Post
Do you have a multimeter? Can you check the circuit to the meter? I don't think that the meter's "guts" have gotten turned (I just can't imagine how that could happen), although that solution to fixing the problem might work. I think that you have a corroded wire, a short or a bad solder in there somewhere.
I have just put fresh batteries in the camera and battery check is ok also. Contacts to battery very clean. I think I have learned to live with the camera as it is. The meter is about two stops off. It is like the old selenium meters which gets slow by age. But I know that this is a CDS so what causes the problem (seems to be a general problem with this camera) I don't know. I don't want to damage anything by taking the top of. I have no experience with this camera :-) .....it is eassier with a god old Vitomatic IIa or something like this :-)
  Reply With Quote

Old 04-08-2009   #25
ludoo
Registered User
 
ludoo's Avatar
 
ludoo is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Milan, Italy
Posts: 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by MXP View Post
I have just put fresh batteries in the camera and battery check is ok also. Contacts to battery very clean. I think I have learned to live with the camera as it is. The meter is about two stops off. It is like the old selenium meters which gets slow by age. But I know that this is a CDS so what causes the problem (seems to be a general problem with this camera) I don't know. I don't want to damage anything by taking the top of. I have no experience with this camera :-) .....it is eassier with a god old Vitomatic IIa or something like this :-)
Probably an oxidized solder joint/contact, or the carbon resistors have drifted off. Removing the top is fairly easy if you take your time and do it gently:

* remove the 5 screws on the bottom plate (one is under the battery test lever), then slightly separate the bottom plate from the body so that you can slide the bottom of the front cover from its rail;

* then angle the cover and slide it also from the top rail, and put it aside;

* remove the top screws (one between the film advance and the viewfinder, one under the red button which you can pry off, one keeping the rewind knob in place -- go gently or the rewind knob will split into 3 pieces and it takes time to put it back together -- and finally two under the rewind knob itself)

* remove the top from the back, then angle it gently and slide it off the body in front, being careful not to break the wires going from the body to the small speaker on the top plate

With the top plate off, you have access to the rangefinder and frame counter to clean them, and can fix the meter level by gently rotating it.
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:08.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.