View Full Version : Should I Trust Untested XA as Only London Trip Camera?

09-23-2007, 13:40
Should I trust a newly acquired and very untested XA as my only camera on an upcoming London trip?

The camera is in very good cosmetic condition, and its mechanics seem equally preserved. I've only had time to run a single roll of film through it, though. The shutter takes a light touch, but is in no danger of going off just because a stray finger brushes it. The focus patch is bright in bright light, dim in dim light.

What's the track record of these things? I'm concerned that there is a risk it will go belly up after I run a few more rolls through it in London.

09-23-2007, 13:49
What do you mean untested? Have you succesfully put film through it or not?

Beyond that issue, there's not a camera made I would take as my only body, unless I knew where to get another on the spur of the moment.

09-23-2007, 13:50
Should I trust a newly acquired and very untested XA as my only camera on an upcoming London trip?

Depends how much you value your pictures, how much of a disappointment it would be if the camera failed. Personally, I'd be hesitant to trust any camera I had not used before, even a brand new high-end camera. But then again, i make my living from this.

eli griggs
09-23-2007, 13:53

I've had a XA and have an XA-2 and though they are great grab and go cameras for everyday, I'd never trust only an unproven camera of that age, of any make, for something as special as a trip to London, ect, especially with an electronic shutter. To do so is to invite folly and IMO, if you insist in carrying one camera, make it one you KNOW will deliver the good; even a disposable is a safer bet.

Post pics from your trip when you are able.


09-23-2007, 13:55
if a camera is going to break down, it usually happens on a trip or a holiday.
it never happens around the house photographing the dog.
take a spare camera if the pics are important to you.

09-23-2007, 14:13
It depends. If extensive testing was done before purchase and after purchase, and your current roll of film turned out well, then that proves that the camera is working...at least for now. However I wouldn't trust it to continue working. There's a great variability amongst specimens even of the same model, so while I've found the XA series to be fairly reliable under most circumstances, do bear in mind that it's pretty old and being second-hand, we're not sure what other conditions it has seen.

For a once in a lifetime holiday, don't trust a single camera body to do the job, unless you're tight on budget. But for a overseas working trip in the past I brought along just an XA2. That was a working trip though...any photos I took along the way were just 'gravy' for the time spent there on a job.

09-23-2007, 14:26
What else is in your armory? If you've only got bulky SLR kit and you want to avoid that at all costs, I'd consider sourcing such as a Trip 35 as backup (I'm beginning to think I should be sponsored to get the phrase "Trip 35" in as many posts as possible on this forum :D ...). Or how about a small digital compact as a backup?

09-23-2007, 14:34
Thanks for the responses. I know it's an impossible question to answer.

I've also got a Canon DSLR as well as a Bessa R4M and lenses, so cost isn't a factor. And, although I haven't been to London in several years, I used to live just west of the city and have visited several times since then. It is, however, the first time I'll be making a concerted effort at photography in London.

It's just a matter of convenience: being able to leave the Bessa and its bag at home. I really dislike having a camera bag draped over my shoulder. (No way I'd haul the Canon and its lenses around London for a week.)

But, there is wisdom in arguing that I shouldn't rely on a 25-year-old camera. I guess the Bessa will be flying with me.

09-23-2007, 14:34
My vote would be no on "trust it" as I just had one give up the ghost - rewind/shutter cock died. I had been using it heavily - I love these little guys. I got lucky and found another locally the next day. In your case, pick up another XA off Ebay and carry two on the trip. Then you can shoot with peace of mind.

Note: My XA may have just worn out. It took a good bit of abuse from me and the XA is rugged enough for their price/size/construction. But I wouldn't carry just one. And I'd get another XA if that's the one you like - the others are nice but you give up even more control with the XA2/3/4. I have the XA4 and it gives me very different results (though still pleasing) than those from my XA.

09-23-2007, 14:44
Just as a something to note for others thinking about going to London, Heathrow, Gatwick, and maybe other UK airports enforce a ONE bag carryon limit when you go through security. How many bags you take on board depends on the airline. but the airports are very serious about that one bag limit. They mean a single bag. No carryon plus a camera bag. No carryon plus a purse. They mean one bag, period. Security will make you check everything else.

I'll be traveling with only a carryon and probably, it seems, a camera bag (next week, Olyman, which kind of eliminates the chances of acquiring and checking out a Trip, but I'm intrigued enough to think about later). In particular, Heathrow has a terrible record for losing luggage, especially if you are transferring there.

Something to ponder if you like to travel light.

09-23-2007, 15:46
Wow, I don't get your logic - here you go on a photo-trip to London and you are concerned about lugging more than an XA around? Come on - get real! At the very minimum I'd take the Bessa and a couple of lenses, even IF the XA performed wonderfully. There is a difference in IQ and versatility between these two set-ups. Actually if it were me, I'd take the Canon and the Bessa and shoot all day and all night. London is a spectacular place for great photographs - and not only street shots!

09-23-2007, 15:53
Just take one camera??? Never, well at least not me...
Took my trusty Nikon FE to Florida while on vacation and it gave me problems...good thing I had more than one camera...

09-23-2007, 15:56
Well...I'd probably take it if I put a roll through it. Though if I had a Bessa R4 I'd probably put 1 lens on that and take just that.

09-23-2007, 18:31
Gerrad: I think you've made the right decision. As much as I love XAs, their age works against them. They are not Leicas in terms of durability. I had an XA that recently needed a CLA, and there was at least one part in the winding mechanism that was so worn that the camera was exchanged for another body, but with my original back in place.

I don't know how many rolls I'd put through the original XA ... a lot, but not as many as a pro working with an M for the same period of time would have shot. So I'm prepared for the replacement body to wear out at any given time, when least expected.

It's true of most any used camera that you buy ... you really don't know the complete history. In the case of the XA, the miniaturization came at a cost.

09-23-2007, 20:32
the XAs are good, but an untested one is tricky. i wouldnt trust an untested camera on any occasion/trip actually. no harm putting a roll through it before your trip.

09-23-2007, 21:00
I always take an XA on vacation- but I always carry another camera, too. I've had 3 XA's, and they can quit unexpectedly, so I'd go with one I had tested. Good news is, if you put fresh batteries in, they usually work just fine. An XA is often the camera I carry when I'm not carrying a camera.

09-23-2007, 21:45
Sure....why not give the untested camera a nick name? How about "Titanic"?

Good luck,


09-24-2007, 02:08
I Good news is, if you put fresh batteries in, they usually work just fine. .

This makes good sense - its easy to forget the spare batteries.
The great thing about the XA is that it is a real pocket camera and doesn't need a case although I would always have mine in a belt pouch. How would a pouch like this count for Airport hand luggage conditions?

Hope you have a great trip!


10-02-2007, 12:30
Why not? they sell cameras in London if the XA packs up. The only things you really need are passport, money and ticket home.

Though knowing London rip off prices and assuming you are in the US you will need LOTS of money.

10-02-2007, 12:33
I dont usually take a camera on vacations.

10-02-2007, 19:32
Be certain to sell it before you come home. Europe money is worth a lot of dollars.

10-03-2007, 13:06
... so, how did the XA hold up? or are you still in London? :)

I would bring an XA anywhere I travel, but as a snapshot/on-the-spur moments. Although it won't be the last time I got pictures from the XA on the trip that I like better than the ones from the "main" camera. :D

10-03-2007, 16:01
We are mixing two different issues here.

One is "how many cameras do you take for a long trip". You can take one.

The other totally different issue is if that one has not been tested. Here, personally I will not trust any camera at all, even a new from the box XXX for which I paid several thousand dollars.