View Full Version : XA Overexposing

01-12-2008, 21:23
They say film has latitude so maybe that's why I didn't notice this at first, but when a friend of mine asked me to try rating Kodak BW400CN at 800 to see how it'd handle underexposure a chain of events began that led me to discover that my XA appears to overexpose.

The first thing was that when I got that roll of 400CN back, my underexposed test shots looked very surprisingly normal.

The kicker came though, when I had both my XA and my Nikon FE2 loaded with Fuji Press 800 and found that with both cameras set to f2.8 in the same room, that the XA would only give me shutter speeds of 1/30 - 1/60 while the FE2 was giving me speeds starting at 1/60 and pushing up towards 1/125! My FE's meter agreed with the FE2, and given the XA is the new camera on the block with clear evidence in negatives it's the one that's off, I am wondering what's up with it and can I change it for the better.

Anybody got experience or comment on the XA's meter going a bit off?

01-13-2008, 06:13
What battery are you using? Use only high-drain silver-oxide batteries such as the 357 or SR44W. Alkalines are a big no-no.

The shutter may be slow as well as the meter being off. If you want the XA meter to agree with your other cameras/give accurate exposures for box ISO, you may have to send it out for CLA if a proper fresh battery does not fix the problem.

01-13-2008, 13:28
I've had a few of these old XA's. I use them for a while, then sell them, then want one again. However, while I trust the meter as a rule, I don't often trust the needle that shows what shutter speed it's using. And frankly, as long as the pics look as good as they do (although indicated 1 or 2 stops off), I just use the camera. I have two XA's and two XA2's right now. One of the XA's has NO needle movement, but the exposures look great, and I can hear the change in speed. The other is off at least a stop if not two. What count's for me is the results.

I think the needle mechanism must be pretty fragile, and I trust that 30 years of these old widgets knocking around takes it's toll on the inner workings.

If you are truly concerned about the readings, put a roll of 200 speed color film in each camera. Shoot identical shots for at least the first ten of each roll. Shoot one, then the other. Have the film developed (BE SURE TO TELL THE PROCESSOR to put each roll in its own clearly marked envelope. Then compare the prints.

OH WAIT!!!!! How do you know the control camera is right?

OK, take all six of your metered cameras. Put a roll of 200 color film in each one along with the XA. Now do the same thing taking six identical shots for the first 10 frames on each roll. Now at this point the person at the one hour lab is going to need some explicit instruction, or coaching. In fact ask him if you can oversee running the six rolls for the next hour to track the rolls.................

OH WAIT!!!!!!..........

OK, let's back up a bit... Do the pictures from your XA look good. AND you want a correct needle on a 30 year old camera....Come on!

01-13-2008, 14:21
Trius is right, be sure that you are using the right battery and that it is the correct voltage.

01-13-2008, 17:08
The Olympus XA is a great little camera. It has it's idiosyncracies but it works very well.

Please check the light sensor located just above the lens. It's a arc type device coupled to the f stop. This can cause issues if it gets dirty. It is a good idea to have it as clean as the lens. The darn thing is so tiny that small amounts of dust, fingerprints etc. can cause problems.

And yes, check the battery too.

01-14-2008, 04:33
or the meter cells could be loose.

01-14-2008, 07:58
My XA overexposes a bit and I found out through observing multiple rolls that it likes 200ASA films (set at 200ASA).

Probably I can send it to zuiko.com and get it CLA'd, but since I've found the sweet spot, and the camera is consistent in its result, I don't bother.

Btw, my XA is not pampered at all, it's in my jeans pocket all the time, so if the meter cell was loose, it'd be worse now, but the pictures didn't reflect it.

01-14-2008, 14:47
If your deliberately underexposed shots look good, have you looked at the negs? If there is clear progression in density from the underex ones to the overex ones then maybe all you need to do is ensure the film speed is set to get you what you want. If they are inconsistent, then there's a worse problem.

01-15-2008, 15:10
BW400CN @ 800 is grossly underexposed (and fairly ugly) for me; my nominal rating is 250 or 320. I think my meter is correct as the XA had a recent CLA c/o Mr. Zuiko himself. I might make some bracketed exposures just to see if my memory is "correct".