View Full Version : Using XA with high speed film in bright conditions

03-03-2008, 12:45
Well, my first XA is on the way, and I couldn't be more excited. My plan is to use it as an available light shooter, as I like to do street shots at night, indoor subjects, etc. However, sometimes I will be using it outside during the day.

My film of choice is Superia 800. I know it's grainy, etc, etc, etc, but I just like it. It fits my eye. So my question is this:

If I am using the XA outside with 800 film at f/22 and the shutter speed needle creeps into the overexposure area, will the shutter still release at 1/500 sec or will it refuse to fire? I can always set the ISO lower to achieve the same result, but I just wonder if it will be necessary. I am concerned about setting the ISO lower, then forgetting to return it to 800.

Second question (afterthought). How loud/quiet is the film advance?

Your help and advice are greatly appreciated.

03-03-2008, 12:50
1) Don't know, but I will guess it will fire anyway at whatever the max shutter speed for the XA happens to be. To the best of my knowledge, it does not have a shutter interlock if the camera is open.
2) Very quiet.

03-03-2008, 12:53
The shutter will fire at 1/500th in the case of overexposure. I wouldn't worry about it- it's hard to ruin a shot by over-exposing, especially with fast film. I use 800 speed routinely with my XA's, and have very rarely had unprintable negatives from it. It's fairly quiet, but not a silent camera; the electro-magnetic release makes an audible click at opening and closing, but there is no gear train sound in between. The advance makes some noise, and in very quiet situations it can be annoying, but it's not too hard to muffle in a pocket or under a coat. I bet you'll like this tiny little beast.

03-03-2008, 13:36
I second everything drewbarb says. The shutter does indeed just fire at 500 (been there on many occasions), but a little overexposure isn't an issue with a good modern neg film.

The shutter is very quiet indeed, but not silent. Wind-on is a little more audible, but the camera is so small it's very easy to discretely tuck it in a pocket or under a jacket to muffle the sound.

I've found that the XA is maybe the perfect camera for candid shooting, not only because it's quiet, but because people just ignore it. The camera looks to the untrained eye like an anonymous tourist p&s, which seems to render the photographer almost invisible for some reason.


03-03-2008, 14:03
Thanks for the quick responses, everyone.

The Superia 800 does indeed handle an extra stop with tremendous grace. In fact, sometimes I overexpose it intentionally when there are a lot of shadows in the scene. I'll just use the ISO dial to do this on the XA.

Looks like I picked the right "stealth shooter." I looked very seriously at the Konica Hexar AF, but found it only had 1/250 as a top speed - problematic with 800 film - and that only some models had the "silent mode," and even then it resets the mode to normal upon power-down. And further, it's not truly pocketable. Oh yeah and I could by a half dozen XA's for what the Hexar costs.

So I guess between the XA, Hexar, Rollei 35, and Minox 35, I made the right choice. I can tell I will probably end up with some of the other cameras in the XA series, as well as a backup XA or two.

03-03-2008, 16:52
Unless you are shooting around a lot of snow or light-colored sand, f/22 and 1/500th should match up almost perfectly with ASA 800, I think.

The shutter of my XA is very, very quiet... comparable to my Yashica Electro 35 GS, which has the quietest shutter I've ever used. Hold a playing card in your hand with one corner exposed. Pull back that corner about one centimeter and then gently release it. That soft flick you hear... the XA is like that.

The winder is a bit more noticeable.

EDIT: Just went and tried them both, as well as a 35 RC. I take it back, neither Olympus is as quiet as the Yashica. But they're a heck of a lot smaller and less visible.

03-03-2008, 17:25
I guess I should have specified that I live in New England, where Mother Nature has been dumping one or two snowstorms a week on us. That obviously makes the "Sunny f/16 rule" into the "Sunny f/22 rule." Hence my concern about the film speed and a possible shutter interlock on overexposure, which everyone has put to rest.

With a shutter as quiet as you describe, even if it's not the quietest, it seems like an ideal camera for the uses I have in mind. Thank you, Scribo, for running those quick tests for me.

03-13-2008, 11:57
The great thing about the XA film advance is that it's a ratcheting wheel, so if you really need to be quiet, you can advance it slowly, just a couple clicks a second, and it's not nearly as noticeable.
I find that unless you are in a library, or within three feet of your subject, they won't hear/notice the shutter click.

John Shriver
04-13-2008, 13:33
I keep my XA loaded with Fuji 800Z. (However, the next roll will be Portra 800, to see how improved that film is these days.)

04-13-2008, 14:24
I find that unless you are in a library, or within three feet of your subject, they won't hear/notice the shutter click.

I've used mine in a library many times and people do not notice me.

My XA has been loaded with FujiPress 800 several times now and if anything, the problem I've had is that it still wasn't enough light gathering power for me even at f2.8. I never had an issue shooting in daylight with the 800.

Tiny and virtually invisible both to the eye and ear as it is, my XA has been sidelined for my newly acquired Canon QL17 with its fast f1.7 lens.

That said, the XA has some decent low light work for me. Shot below was actually done with Superia 200 too.


04-26-2008, 05:43
Really like that shot above! The XA is a masterpiece IMHO.