View Full Version : Pocket RF?

10-04-2003, 19:40
quote:Originally posted by rsilfverberg
"Well tonight I'm going out with the boys - and for that it's hard to beat the Olympus XA :-) "

Ok, I've never experienced the fabled XA, though I sure have enjoyed the 35RC, now unfortunately meter-dead. But I have use for a small camera, and people speak highly of the XA. I even bid on one but the other bidders clearly valued it highly!

In pondering tiny cameras for pocket carry it occured to me that the XA's internal volume is devoted mostly to film handling. If the cannister could be made smaller, the camera could easily shrink. Consider the old Tessina, if you remember than one. This little TLR had a smaller 35mm spool, and sure was pocketable!

Is the XA the current state of the art on pocket cameras with decent controls and lens?

Or could one simply dispose of the film and go P&S digital? The Pentax Optio S4 fits into an empty Altoids tin, they say. The Minolta DiMage-X isn't much larger. But the two Canon Digital ELPH choices are supposed to offer better optics and image quality. And still much smaller than the XA...

I have in mind something to use for my apartment business, documenting damage for instance around the grounds or in the units. No need with digital to wait to develop the film and make prints. Quick access for irregular usage.

What do you think?


back alley
10-04-2003, 20:37
digital sounds like it would work nicely for your needs. the canon elph is highly reviewed also.
for film, look at a olympus stylus. it's auto everything but has a very sharp lens and fits in pants pocket easily.

Rich Silfver
10-04-2003, 21:04
I would agree with Joe here. It sounds like digital would be perfect for your needs.

The XA is an absolutely amazing little camera (I'm a huge fan of Mr Maitani's camera design in both the OM-line as well as the XA camera) - BUT it is film and it does require you to develop and scan - additional time and cost that you could do without in your scenario.

If P&S controls are 'enough' than any of the current digital p&s offerings would work well.

I also agree about the Olympus Stylus Epic is another great film P&S (I just don't like that design as much...personal preference).

10-05-2003, 07:27
The XA was a great pocket RF camera and my constant companion for many years. It finally gave up on me and can't be fixed, so I replaced it with a Stylus Epic, which I don't like nearly as well.

Even though the Epic has a better lens and flash system than the XA, it lacks the XA's capability to adjust ASA, aperture and shutter settings. Most seriously, the Stylus behaves like any other P&S with a noticeable lag between pressing the shutter release and the shutter actually tripping. That's fine for subjects that will hold still or whose movements can be anticipated, but for random action it is frustrating. There was never a problem with the XA, which tripped faster than anything. And, because of the infra red focusing system, it won't focus on a close subject behind glass.

But, there's no going back. The XA has been out of production too long. Even with light use, the meters eventually go out of linearity and can't be relied upon. So, I carry an Epic and resign myself to its limitations. This is one product improvement I regret. But I must admit, when matched with subjects it can handle, the Epic does an excellent job.

10-05-2003, 07:54
My favorite little camera is the Chinon Bellami. It is not a true rangefinder as you have to scale focus, but that's not much of a problem as the lens is a 35mm wideangle. The lens retracts behind "barn doors." I like it because the lens is sharp and it has a rapid advance lever (as well as a rewind crank). I also have a Minox 35 of similar size but you have to wind it with a thumbwheel and it has trouble advancing when you get to mid-roll. The Chinon is ergonomically superior to the Minox. However, the little Chinon flash attachment tends to underexpose your pictures - I don't use it.

Picture Guy
10-06-2003, 08:40
I have learned to regard every camera as a tool in my tool box, and it is axiomatic that every tool has both strengths and weaknesses.

The Olympus Stylus Epic (fixed 35mm lens) is superb for compactness and sharpness.

On the other hand, the infuriating and UNPREDICTIABLE delay in autofocus make it a poor choice for live mobile creatures like kids and dogs.

Fine for group shots and Mount Rushmore.

Also, if you try to shoot about four pictures rapidly with flash, the battery starts to fade and go into vapor lock about third or fourth shot.

Notwithstanding, I consider it fine within its limitations. For parties where I just don't care for the hassle more creative gear, I just drop it in pocket or handly pouch.

back alley
10-06-2003, 09:07
i have an older oly stylus and have never noticed a lag time of any sort.

10-06-2003, 12:49
Originally posted by backalley photo
i have an older oly stylus and have never noticed a lag time of any sort.

There is a delay, even on the older Stylus, of about 1/3 sec (give or take). If you haven't been bothered, that might have to do with your style of photography. For me, that is enough to lose the facial expression or whatever it is in the composition that is in motion. It is more than the lag on an MF Nikon (@ 70 ms) and way more than on a Leica (@ 15 ms). The electronic shutter release on the Mamiya 6 is even shorter, I think. Auto focus SLRs usually lag over 100 ms. The reason for the delay in p&s cameras is that when you press the shutter release button, first the camera focuses and then the shutter opens. It happens very fast, but adds an extra step to the process. I am surprised you haven't been aware of it. The lag time drives me nuts, and a big reason I prefer manual focus cameras.

back alley
10-06-2003, 13:16
i'll have to be more aware the next time i haul it out.
i mostly use it for 'snapshots', parties, gatherings that sort of thing.


10-07-2003, 07:00
Contax T is an amazingly small camera with a terrific lens, actual rangefinder and also presets for sone focusing at F8. Also the Ricoh GR-1 series of cameras which may have been discontinued has a terrific and useful 28/2.8, and override over exposure and auto focus.

Picture Guy
10-07-2003, 07:22
I did not mean to imply that the Olympus Stylus is any worse on shutter delay than other point and shoots in its class. It is not.

All of these have unpredictable shutter delays.

A month ago, a large crow suddenly landed on a fence about five feet from me. I brought the Olympus up and pressed the shutter.

While the camera buzzed and whirly-giged, the crow took alarm and flew off. I got a great shot of a blank fence.

This is why I do all of my shooting on thirty year old manual gear, and recently bought a Bessa R 2.

10-27-2003, 18:31
Doug - I've been a fan and collector of Olympus RF's for a long time. The 35RC is a real champ, but if you're looking for a replacement, the XA is the way to go. I have three of them and one is with me every time I step out. It has so much to offer and gives such great results. When you get one, make sure you get the XA and not the XA-1, XA-2, or XA-3. The XA-4 is interesting because of its macro capability, but you have to focus from a scale because it does not have a rangefinder. You can cown load the operation manual from the official Olympus site to get a better idea of how it works.

10-28-2003, 07:18
I'd like to put in a good word for the Ricoh GR1 (and subsequent versions). This is my day-to-day carry camera. It is small enough for my shirt pocket, offers a decent range of controls (+/- 2 stops) to its aperture-select or program exposure modes. It has a "snap" mode which focuses to 2 meters permiting hyperfocal distance focus and a pretty sharp 28mm lens. And it is quiet and inobtrusive in street shooting.


10-28-2003, 07:58
Yes, the Stylus Epic is nice, and the Ricoh too, but if you want a "real" rangefinder camera to fill these requirements, you just about have to go with the XA. Besides, with full manual control of exposure and focus, you can also control depth of field - a very nice to have feature.

Picture Guy
10-28-2003, 08:33
The specs on the XA look very good, but I am getting to be a bit burned out on very old equipment.

10-28-2003, 09:55
I like the XA, and like its price these days and like the quality of the lens. However, I am not crazy about its meter and its petulence when it thinks I am over-exposing.

10-28-2003, 11:10
Gee, I think of the XA as "recent", but it may be that I am "old equipment" myself!

Older gear is certainly subject to hidden wear, unseen damage, and simple deterioration over time. I've had my Olympus 35RC since 1972, and I have a nostalgic fondness for it. It has its faults even in the best of condition, but I finally took it to the repair shop for CLA, new foam seals, and to fix the dead meter if possible.

It surely doesn't make economic sense, but I don't want to leave it unusable on the shelf, sell/give it away to burden someone else, and I can't bring myself to toss it in the dumpster.

May old equipment live on!

back alley
10-28-2003, 11:56
May old equipment live on!

right on!
i too have an olympus 35rc from about 70-71, can't remember exactly.