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piumach
01-13-2010, 07:45
Hi everybody,
till yesterday morning I'm another pretty happy owner of a beautiful near mint condition Oly XA + A16 flash ;-)
During this christmas holiday I've litterally scanned the web in search of anykind of information about this camera and I've found lot of messages describing some common failures, like self timer always on, shutter button that do not works or that is too sensible and so on.
Now I'm just trying to figure out why this kind of things happens, I mean, I would like to understand if this failures are directly connected to specific conditions of use, storage or things like those, or we are in front of a not affordable item.
Infact, some people have fully working camera that they use often without problems, other lots of...
Talking about a camera of the 80's with quite so much electronic parts and electric contacts (for the time at least) I think one cause of failure could be, for example, humidity that goes inside and produce oxidation and corrosion.
I'm trying to figure out if I must have care of this camera in a particular way or general care for this kind of product is enough to hope to enjoy it for quite a long time yet :-)
What's your opinion about it?
Another thing, in the instruction manual there is an indication to keep the camera away from magnet. I have a soft camera case that seems to be perfect size for the XA but it has a magnetic cover (two magnet in the external cover and other two in the case, could them damage the camera or I can use it without any worries?

Regards,
Nicola

pschauss
01-13-2010, 08:50
I bought my XA new in 1983. It has surviced being dropped once, being "borrowed" by one of my daugher's 5th grade classmates about 20 years ago, and a 30 day backpacking trip in Alaska with my son. After letting it sit on my shelf for five or six years, I took it on a trip to Barcelona last summer where it performed flawlessly. The only problem that I have with it is that the rangefinder patch is a bit dim.

scottgee1
01-13-2010, 08:58
Nicola, welcome to RFF!

Your basic observations seem spot on. Olympus sold a LOT of XAs so there are a lot of them out there, hence a lot of comments -- pro and con.

Like any relatively complex device that gets carried and bumped, they will have problems. Of course the mechanical bits will break and the electronics will eventually fail. I've owned about a half dozen of them over the years and never had a problem with any of them.

As to care, common sense rules. Avoid extremes of temperature and humidity. Keep away from water and bumps -- though the clamshell design and plastic body seem to make them less prone to impact damage.

Also, since they were one of the first cameras that could be considered pocketable, a lot of guys actually carried them around in a pants pocket (those early polyester pants could really stretch) so some of the ones on the used market have lint in them!

I assume you're familiar with this site:
http://www.diaxa.com/xastart.htm

John still services them:
http://zuiko.com/index_009.htm
and does excellent work.

Have fun!/ScottGee1

piumach
01-14-2010, 00:33
Nicola, welcome to RFF!

Your basic observations seem spot on. Olympus sold a LOT of XAs so there are a lot of them out there, hence a lot of comments -- pro and con.

Like any relatively complex device that gets carried and bumped, they will have problems. Of course the mechanical bits will break and the electronics will eventually fail. I've owned about a half dozen of them over the years and never had a problem with any of them.

As to care, common sense rules. Avoid extremes of temperature and humidity. Keep away from water and bumps -- though the clamshell design and plastic body seem to make them less prone to impact damage.

Also, since they were one of the first cameras that could be considered pocketable, a lot of guys actually carried them around in a pants pocket (those early polyester pants could really stretch) so some of the ones on the used market have lint in them!

I assume you're familiar with this site:
http://www.diaxa.com/xastart.htm

John still services them:
http://zuiko.com/index_009.htm
and does excellent work.

Have fun!/ScottGee1

Thank you guys!
Very helpful comments and good suggestions, I will definetely foolow them!
Yesterday evening I went on with the first 2 mod of the camera:

1) black tape small rectangular patch placed in the middle of the VF in order to enhance the rangefinder contrast. Infact, even if both VF an RF glass were clean and scratch free, in my camera the RF was near to impossible to use (only usable during the day with contrast scene).
I've used a paper masking tape that i've painted with a black ink marker (dimension used 3,5x2,5 mm, but it could be better with 3x2mm) instead of black plastic tape just because the first one has a less strong adhesive and if you remove it also after long time no trace will remain on the surface.
I'm pretty happy with the result, now the RF patch is clearly visible also in low light conditions :-)

2) a piece of exposed and developed negative film applied on the flash sensor with trasparent tape in order to convert the 100-400 iso setting into 50-200 iso; before proceeding I have tested the light reduction introduced by that film with an external light meter in different light conditions, resulting in a reduction of 1,3 stops approximately.

Currently I'm going thru my first test roll (perutz primera 200 asa) in order to evaluate overall performance (focusing, exposure, light leakage from backcover), I will post my impression when it will be finished!
Anyway, do you know something about my last request, if I can or can not use the soft case with magnet with the XA?

Bye,
Nicola

MPerson
01-14-2010, 01:39
Welcome Nichola. I bought my first one when they came out in 1979 when I was based in Singapore and it is still going strong. Since buying it has been all over the world with me and survived annual artic warfare & survival training in the winters of Norway. Active service in Northern Ireland, Belize, Falklands, both Gulf wars and peacekeeping in Africa and Kosov. It has been drowned, frozen, dropped, bomb blasted several hundred yards, covered in sand, snow or mud, suffered desert heat and jungle humidity and it just keeps going.

What is worth bearing in mind is even the last produced models are now getting on for 25 years old and most will not have been looked after in the sense of having them serviced/CLA'd regularly. Which will probably account for the complaints from the newer users. Mine has a CLA every 5 years or so.

The advice about magnets - whether right or wrong - probably relates to the fact the camera has an electro-magnetic shutter. I personally wouldn't keep it close to magnets.

It's a wonderful little camera and always loaded and in one of my pockets when out and about, even with my other gear. I hope you enjoy yours.

Bill58
01-14-2010, 04:40
My 2 XAs were bought used and have been in for service/ repair too many times. Maybe I got someone else's problems or maybe the repairmen were not competent, but I've had a lot more problems w/ them than any other RF I own. Every time I use them I hold my breath.....

sahe69
01-14-2010, 05:26
I had my XA going into the problematic 'self timer always on' -mode a couple of years ago,. Back then I took the camera to a local camera service/repair agent, who told me that this is not repairable but would need replacement parts, which are not available. So I put the XA in my closet and left it there. Funny enough, a few months ago I took it out and just for the sake of curiousity tested it again - and it worked perfectly! :) But I would not rely on it as the only camera.

freax
01-16-2010, 05:55
I have mine from ebay but have the following problems sometimes:
- the shutter doesn't work in front of my friends :)
- The rewind sometimes does not work
- The counter stops at 22 taken photos

For me this is a beautifull but not a reliable camera.
Is there someone competent in UK to check these problems for everyone ?

Thanks.

Pickett Wilson
01-16-2010, 06:02
Like a lot of the consumer RF's from the time, the XA has been raised to a kind of cult status in recent years. These were relatively inexpensive snapshot cameras that, I'm certain, Olympus hoped wouldn't still be in use 30 years later. Mostly plastic, it's really amazing any of them still work (they do probably because they were used very little by the original buyers). I like mine, which still works, but cameras have moved on. Use it until it breaks and throw it away.

wgerrard
01-16-2010, 06:06
I've had an XA for a few years. The shutter button, for lack of a better word, is recalcitrant, often requiring so much pressure that it makes holding the camera steady impossible. The camera gets little use, so I haven't had it repaired.

The RF patch is small, faded, and, in some light, the left side disappears. As I understand it, the XA's RF patch was not the great when it was new on the market.

Everything else works just fine. The camera seems remarkably sturdy.

David Hughes
01-16-2010, 06:21
But folks, we are talking about a 30 year old camera and, if it was bought secondhand, it means that the owner hasn't used it for a while (or worse knows it's duff and has decided to sell it).

I always assume I'll have the cost of a service to bear and chose good looking cameras to get the best of both worlds. My last XA cost 48 + tax )-: to repair and had a part, or parts, replaced. But now I've one in excellent condition with a good bit of guarantee left.

What more can I say?

Regards, David

oftheherd
01-16-2010, 06:39
I got mine off ebay about a year ago. I use it sporadically, but it has worked fine after a short time for what I presume was time for the condensers to reform. At first the shutter wouldn't fire immediately (self timer and I just didn't know?). The flash didn't fair so well and I had to replace it. I do like it when I use it for what it was intended; a small P&S.

not_in_good_order
01-16-2010, 07:08
My beat up XA works great. Prior to me owning it, it had taken been used heavily--it is scuffed all over and is missing a couple of patches of paint on the metal back. The only issue I have had with it is that carrying it in my pants pocket puts pressure on the clamshell and can knock it off track. Maybe this is a sign that I'm gaining too much weight and my pants are getting a bit tight.

MPerson
01-16-2010, 07:21
I have mine from ebay but have the following problems sometimes:
- the shutter doesn't work in front of my friends :)
- The rewind sometimes does not work
- The counter stops at 22 taken photos

For me this is a beautifull but not a reliable camera.
Is there someone competent in UK to check these problems for everyone ?

Thanks.

In the UK Luton Cameras are the officially recognised repairers for the XA - recommended by Olympus UK.

Luton Cameras web site (http://www.lutoncameras.co.uk/)

Bingley
01-16-2010, 07:31
I bought my XA new in 1983. It has surviced being dropped once, being "borrowed" by one of my daugher's 5th grade classmates about 20 years ago, and a 30 day backpacking trip in Alaska with my son. After letting it sit on my shelf for five or six years, I took it on a trip to Barcelona last summer where it performed flawlessly. The only problem that I have with it is that the rangefinder patch is a bit dim.


+1. This sums up my experience too. I'm the original owner of my XA, bought new around 1983 or '84. For a number of years it was my only camera, and has had hundreds of rolls of film run through it. I also took mine backpacking, and it's been along on numerous hikes and outings as well. The rangefinder patch is now a bit dim, and there are a few chips in the paint, but otherwise it's working fine and I'm still using it. I've got a set of photos taken w/ it over on my flickr page.

David Hughes
01-16-2010, 07:33
Like a lot of the consumer RF's from the time, the XA has been raised to a kind of cult status in recent years. These were relatively inexpensive snapshot cameras that, I'm certain, Olympus hoped wouldn't still be in use 30 years later. Mostly plastic, it's really amazing any of them still work (they do probably because they were used very little by the original buyers). I like mine, which still works, but cameras have moved on. Use it until it breaks and throw it away.

Hi, I don't remember them as being cheap. When new in 1979 mine was 110 without and 122 with the flash.

Now all we need to know is the average salary in 1979. I don't think the average wage in '79 would give the right answer, btw, but that's the easiest to find.

Regards, David

scottgee1
01-16-2010, 07:34
The only issue I have had with it is that carrying it in my pants pocket puts pressure on the clamshell and can knock it off track. Maybe this is a sign that I'm gaining too much weight and my pants are getting a bit tight.

This comment succeeds at being both humorous and instructive. There are innumerable variables that affect the performance of a camera. Unless the one you have has experienced those, your mileage will vary.

David Hughes
01-16-2010, 07:36
Another thing, in the instruction manual there is an indication to keep the camera away from magnet. I have a soft camera case that seems to be perfect size for the XA but it has a magnetic cover (two magnet in the external cover and other two in the case, could them damage the camera or I can use it without any worries?

Regards,
Nicola

Hi, I'd play safe and keep them away from magnets, as it says: especially those snap fastener ones which seem extra powerful.

Anyway, they don't need cases or covers. Just keep the front closed and you should be OK.

Regards, David

scottgee1
01-16-2010, 08:14
I've got a set of photos taken w/ it over on my flickr page.

Steve, these are really delightful! A fine collection of artfully composed and timed 'grab shots'. The set really proves the maxim that the best camera is the one you have with you. I'd guess your use is kind of that Maitani-sama had in mind when he designed the XA.

For those who want to see the set, here's a direct link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157606764985721/

Cheers!/ScottGee1