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View Full Version : XA Revival. My first repair experience and a little guide.


redimp
02-21-2015, 17:09
So I've got myself a pretty cheap XA in a nice condition today.

It was around $25 and the seller was almost local (1-day shipping), so I figured it should fill a hole while I wait for my T2 that got lost somewhere on a way to me and is running a week late now.

So I picked up a lill box with the XA and A11 Flash at the post office and unboxed it right there and oh, a bummer it did not work properly. The rangefinder patch was stuck and did not move as I was moving the focus lever.

Honestly I'd return it right on, but I paid for it upfront so decided to take it home and google if maybe there's a simple solution to it. So I did and found two topics about similar problems, with no solutions.

I was so frustrated, as this was a second camera that I bought that had troubles so I thought screw it, I'm going dirty.

Downloaded repair manual (I've added it to my dropbox (https://www.dropbox.com/s/56b3ttnlrdyxcaq/OlympusXA.pdf?dl=0) for reference), took the smallest screwdriver I had and started unscrewing.

First I removed the bottom plate held with 5 screws (one under "mode" lever), then took off the dust barrier (the moving half of a clamshell), then unscrewed the top plate, then the front plastic part (to do that you have to get into the film compartment, so I recommend opening the back before tearing the camera apart).

At this point I was hoping that I'd have access to the focusing mechanism and be able to figure out what is wrong and why is the mirror not moving, but what I saw was this:

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8577/16605372061_101b3f359b_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/rimSAi)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/rimSAi) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr


I started reading the manual again and found out that to get to the mechanism itself I need to disassemble the whole lens assy and that seemed pretty hard to do, so I first decided to check out the mirror itself.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8616/16605977102_cbf7486d64_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ripYs3)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/ripYs3) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

As you see there is a lot of space around the mirror itself, so I took a q-tip and tried to move the mirror with a slight gentle moves, applying very little force to it. It seemed that the mirror was stuck in place because it was not moving for quite a while (when I called up previous owner he said he did not know that you need to focus with something in a rangefinder, he was using it as a scale camera only and probably was not aware there was a problem at all) and after a little time the problem was solved! I was surprised how easy it was. I double checked if the patch inside the viewfinder was moving at all, and it was, aligning properly at infinity.

Since the camera was all stripped I decided to take this chance and to clean it up a little. Started with a viewfinder. And you can see on a picture below there is a paper cover that seals the viewfinder chamber. You can gently lift one part of it up with a paper knife or something thin.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8570/16399407337_2028957d81_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/qZafsn)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/qZafsn) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

The black side of the paper is very sticky and I had to clean it up too, as it had tonns of dust and sand (?) stuck to it. Not to damage it I just dipped my finder into water and gently rubbed the surface to clean it up. I used a big enema to remove the dust of the chamber itself and used a dry q-tip to clean the glass itself. After that I just stuck the paper back on it's place. The glue that remained on it was more then enough to hold it in place.

Then, of course there was a black goo from the old light seal everywhere in the camera, and that obviously had to be replaced. Borrow my wife's nail polish removal liquid and started cleaning it up.

The goo is coming away pretty easy as the acetone dissolves it completely, but the glue that was used to hold the foam light seal in place is much harder to remove. I used a toothpick with paper wrapped around it to scratch it off (don't use anything sharper, it will scratch the paint on the camera).

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8564/15987035553_ee0e12b3f2_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/qmHJG2)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/qmHJG2) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

To re-apply the light seal on the back of the camera you might want to loose one side of the film stretching plate to rotate it. It will give you more space to clean up the old mess and apply new seals. You have to gently squeeze the plate basement horizontally to take it of a little nob on the back cover itself.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8651/16605639721_5a9e6f4365_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/riofa8)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/riofa8) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

When moving that part I've noticed something interesting during assembling of the camera somebody put a number on the cover with a pencil. Pretty cool to find things like that hidden inside of your camera. I knew they did it with guitars and other hand-crafted things, but never saw anything like that on a camera.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8583/16419599778_6a2ef2cdc9_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/r1WJXU)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/r1WJXU) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

After applying new light seal (I don't want to show it cos I ran out of black and grey ones and had to use ugly white one) I decided to do another "mod". It's not even a mod, just something that I wanted to do right on when I turned on the "battery check" for the first time. I disengaged the little beeper that is glued to the top plate of the camera. Kind of a "no sound mode" if you will. All the things that the sound did (battery check, self timer) are doubled with the little light on the front of the camera itself, so I did not lose any function, but now I can be sure that when shooting on the street I will not grab anyone's attention by accidently flipping the switch too much or shooting with timer.

To turn the sound off you need to gently cut one of the cords that run to the twitter itself. I cut the red one and left the black one on it's place in case I ever want to solder it back.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8622/16606175992_4db0637bfc_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/riqZzb)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/riqZzb) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Then I assembled the whole thing back in the reverse order, with the bottom plate being the last one. After re-attaching every single part I was double-cheking if everything works properly. As you can see the assembled camera still has some cosmetic issues but looks decent.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8625/16605639311_810cb61852_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/riof34)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/riof34) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

On this image you can see that there is a lot of dust left in the front of the viewfinder. It's just that two optical elements situated there are very close to each other and I could not reach between them, and the enema did not provide enough air pressure to remove that junk that is stuck there cos of static.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8618/16605639431_9cc5279daf_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/riof58)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/riof58) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Of course the lens got it's attention too, was cleaned properly and returned a beautiful coating hue.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8572/16420965999_901aec9043_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/r24K6r)Olympus XA repair (https://flic.kr/p/r24K6r) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Overall, I'm extremely happy with the fact that I was able to fix the issue myself, and the camera looks real nice too. I'm taking it out tomorrow and will share the results.

Please feel free to ask any questions about the process if you are going to do something like that yourself.

Austintatious
02-21-2015, 18:10
Way to go redimp ! Nice save on a good little shooter. Welcome to RFF. Reminds me, I
have not used my XA in years. Need to take it out for a spin coming up. :D
Looking forward to seeing your results on the test roll.

farlymac
02-21-2015, 18:21
Welcome to the forum, and congratulations on the repair. My first XA had a sticking shutter, so I had to do a more involved tear down to clean it. This also involved disengaging the focusing lever, which is glued at the infinity point.

I didn't re-glue it, as there was enough left on the post and lever to align it properly. Or so I thought. Now it only focuses properly in one direction, as there is slack going the other way, but I would have to run another test roll through it to figure out which way it focuses correctly, or tear it apart again to glue the focus lever.

But I've got another one now that only needs new seals, so the first one may wind up down at the charity shop, unless I get really bored some day and fix it.

PF

gwg
02-22-2015, 05:58
Great write-up! Thank you! Also encouraged me to take out my XA again, which has been hibernating far too long. Looking forward to seeing your pictures.

p.giannakis
02-22-2015, 06:25
You need to post pictures taken with it now :)

JoeV
02-22-2015, 15:31
Cutting the red wire is the thing that always gets you in trouble, in all those old action movies where the hero has to diffuse the device. ;)

Well done, please post your results here.

~Joe

redimp
02-23-2015, 14:22
So I took a super quick test of the camera yesterday. We just went outside and burned through a roll on one breath. The shutter release is indeed very soft, so soft that somehow after taking a shot it does not seem like you took a shot and makes you think that you have more frames in you roll left then you actually have. It just does not feel like you're using any film at all. It's a weird thing. It's not a bad thing though, just very different feeling for me.

It was pretty late in the day and very cloudy too, and I only had a drugstore superia 400 in my stash, so ended up using flash in most of the cases. Even managed to get the roll to the lab 10 minutes before closure.

Labs here in Ukraine get worse and worse. When I picked up my film today it was covered in emulsion that was not washed away properly, had stains, and the scans were unsharped to such an extent that it hurt my eyes to look at them. Had to clean the film and re-scan on a flatbed in my office.

Overall I'm very happy with the test roll, though I feel like this XA will take me a lot of getting used to. Four pictures had my finger in the corner. Camera is just so small that I still cannot figure out a proper grip for it. Also the viewfinder after using SLRs feels small, though it actually is of a decent size.

Right, the images.

I really like this one


https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8599/16628381385_6ec0dd1847_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/rkoNsM)Olympus XA test roll (https://flic.kr/p/rkoNsM) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr




And this one


https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8634/16441209688_f1005629df_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/r3RuQy)Olympus XA test roll (https://flic.kr/p/r3RuQy) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr




The rest are available in this album https://flic.kr/s/aHsk88Zi76


Thanks for the warm welcoming guys, was waiting for the profile confirmation for like a month (probably bug with forum engine) and feel very excited to post here.

summar
02-23-2015, 15:59
Wonderful photographs, redimp, and an impressive reconditioning job! I wouldn't have the courage to try this myself. When a technician (unfortunately no longer practising) fixed the rangefinder on my XA he told me it was a weak spot of these cameras. It's still working as it's supposed to, many years later, but now I've learned to be careful and protect it against bumps.

Crazy Fedya
02-23-2015, 16:30
Max,
Вітаємо! This is a rather friendly forum with a lot of knowledgable people.
Nice write-up, by the way.

sreed2006
02-23-2015, 17:11
Hold the XA in your left hand with the thumb underneath the camera and touching the focusing lever. Use your thumb to move the lever to focus. Rest the left index and middle fingers on the top of the camera on the sliding cover (or flash unit).

I read that method somewhere on the web, and have found it to be the best way to use the XA.

Congratulations on fixing your camera. You are a brave soul.

dfatty
02-23-2015, 17:23
nice work, thanks for posting pics of the process!

The Expanding Man
02-24-2015, 00:44
So I took a super quick test of the camera yesterday. We just went outside and burned through a roll on one breath. The shutter release is indeed very soft, so soft that somehow after taking a shot it does not seem like you took a shot and makes you think that you have more frames in you roll left then you actually have. It just does not feel like you're using any film at all. It's a weird thing. It's not a bad thing though, just very different feeling for me.

It was pretty late in the day and very cloudy too, and I only had a drugstore superia 400 in my stash, so ended up using flash in most of the cases. Even managed to get the roll to the lab 10 minutes before closure.

Labs here in Ukraine get worse and worse. When I picked up my film today it was covered in emulsion that was not washed away properly, had stains, and the scans were unsharped to such an extent that it hurt my eyes to look at them. Had to clean the film and re-scan on a flatbed in my office.

Overall I'm very happy with the test roll, though I feel like this XA will take me a lot of getting used to. Four pictures had my finger in the corner. Camera is just so small that I still cannot figure out a proper grip for it. Also the viewfinder after using SLRs feels small, though it actually is of a decent size.

Right, the images.

I really like this one


https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8599/16628381385_6ec0dd1847_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/rkoNsM)Olympus XA test roll (https://flic.kr/p/rkoNsM) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr




And this one


https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8634/16441209688_f1005629df_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/r3RuQy)Olympus XA test roll (https://flic.kr/p/r3RuQy) by maxprodaniuk (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr




The rest are available in this album https://flic.kr/s/aHsk88Zi76


Thanks for the warm welcoming guys, was waiting for the profile confirmation for like a month (probably bug with forum engine) and feel very excited to post here.

I disagree with the Beach Boys, I'll take Ukraine girls over Californian girls any day of the week!

Well done. I too might have to dust off my XA sometime soon.

Petrolhead
02-26-2015, 03:29
Coincidentally, I just finished shooting my first roll on the XA, except for the slight vignette, you will not be disappointed with this camera.

I picked up the camera from our local junkyard for 15 Singapore dollars and it included a intermittent shutter in the price. Opening up the XA to remove the lens board was a challenge due to space constraints and the number of wires that needs to be unsoldered.

It's now my go to camera for all my cycling trips as it slips easily into the back pocket of my cycling jersey.

Meanwhile, a picture taken with the XA using Agfa Vista 200.

Solinar
02-26-2015, 04:12
The 35mm focal length does come in handy for tight interiors:

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8582/16355430320_29f0b7c50f_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/qVgRBW)XA_CS_stairs_1 (https://flic.kr/p/qVgRBW) by xyz2physics (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr

citizen99
02-26-2015, 04:20
A great repair description, and great results :)

oftheherd
03-28-2015, 17:54
Thanks for the great write up and photos of the strip down. One thing which I know you found out, is that the clamshell door will come of easily if you are careful. But one needs to be careful not to lose the small cut of large wire that fits inside the top of the camera. Otherwise, you will be looking for a machinist to help you find one of the right diameter and cut it for you. It is what provides the detent for the clamshell. Also, without the clamshell to move a small lever, the rangefinder patch won't work.

Again, nice post.

farlymac
04-02-2015, 19:56
Congrats on a successful repair, Max. The test photos came out very well. Some good themes there, especially the playful ones.

I got to the point where I kept the flash unit on the camera to act as a grip, and to keep my fingers out of view.

I can understand your frustration with the local lab. Most of our places have stopped processing film altogether, or send it out to a third party processor, then you don't get your negatives back. I've got one drugstore, and the pro lab left in town, and if they both go under then I'll have to start doing the developing and scanning myself.

PF