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In praise of the Olympus XA
Old 07-21-2011   #1
Ronald_H
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In praise of the Olympus XA

Picked up a XA + flash for 20 Euros at a swap meet. I had been looking out for one for a while, because I realized that the features I missed most from my favourite P&S (Mju-II / Stylus Epic) were control over the aperture and exposure compensation.

Camera is a bit dirty, and the seals are becoming a bit smudgy, but it is still clean inside and evidently light tight. The meter needle is very optimistic, the shutter speed indicated is about two stops too fast, but actual metering and shutter are spot on, just ignore the needle.

Although the RF is small and dim, focusing is accurate throughout the range.

I am extremely pleased with the first roll. In focus, well exposed and quite shockingly sharp. I heard some dismissive stories about the lens quality, but at least my XA is tack sharp. I love the hair trigger shutter release as well, you can get away with much longer handheld shutter speeds than with the Mju-II, which is not nearly as well balanced.

All in all a brilliant pocket rocket that will see a LOT of use in my hands.
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Old 07-21-2011   #2
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I still have the XA I bought new in 1979 or 1980. Pretty worn from a lot of miles in my pocket. Great little pocket camera. A bit soft around the edges, but I have a lot of photos I shot with the little guy.

The release was a weak point to me. Too little feedback and easy to take an unintended shot. The XA's I've seen in the last couple of years, though, are really starting to show their age, with lots of problems cropping up. A pretty good run, though, for a little plastic camera.
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Old 07-21-2011   #3
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I got one cheap off ebay a couple of years ago after continually reading about them here at RFF. Mine is sharp. The first A11 died almost immediately, but the second is chugging alone well. I have the larger flash where the ready diod doesn't work, but the flash does.

A friend gave me one he picked up for less that $5 but it had no clamshell cover. I am working on putting it in good working condition. When I get around to it I will post how I did it. There is some surprising engineering in that little thing.
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Old 07-21-2011   #4
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I picked one up a few weeks ago in a charity store for $5. Excellent working order. I used to have one years ago and dropped it, and it's great to have this quality little RF in my pocket once again. Looking forward to seeing you post some pictures taken with yours.
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Old 07-21-2011   #5
Juan Valdenebro
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When I got mine, I really wanted to know -from direct use- why the camera is so famous...

The moment I received it I went out with a roll of velvia because I wanted to check if its meter and RF were fine after the shipping... I set the camera at 50, not 32, to see meter's accuracy...

On the few blocks between home and the lab I shot the roll and waited anxiously for less than 30 minutes to receive the uncut, yet wet film just to see it as soon as possible...

I was amazed... 36 sharp, well focused, VERY well exposed images! That meter is a wonder... (I think I read there are two meters inside?)

Then it became THE camera to be used when I needed fast shooting without being seen or heard... I never used it for color again, by the way...

As focusing wide open is easier with other cameras, I left the XA for use at f/8 only, and I focus it to 6 feet to have focus in the nearest meters around camera... Sometimes, I noticed after having it on my pocket and while opening it, the focusing lever had moved from the 6 feet position I prefer, so I decided to make a black cardboard piece that keeps the lever fix on that place: it's just a small piece of cardboard cut with the shape of the lever in the center of it, so it doesn't move...

I open the camera and shoot, and everything around me is sharp for street shooting: no sound, no focusing, no metering, no settings of any kind... I use 400 film set at 800.

It's an almost perfect camera, one of the closest to that, IMO... I dream of one a bit bigger for f/2, and with ISO up to 3200... But as is, it's ready for fast shooting for more situations than most cameras.

About the LR44 - SR44 batteries thing: it's designed for the SR44 ones... Mine came with LR44 ones, and as I had great exposure on the first rolls, I thought LR44 were equally fine... They're not! After some rolls, there was a roll with some frames showing uneven exposure from left to right! The XA needs SR44 batteries!

One of those cameras -like Hexar AF- I'll keep buying all my life if necessary...

Mr. Maitani rules! He had a lifetime of experience and success before designing the XA!


Cheers,

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Old 07-21-2011   #6
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Posts without photos mean nothing!
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Old 07-21-2011   #7
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You forgot to attach the photo.
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Old 07-21-2011   #8
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You forgot to attach the photo.
Nah, I just change my avatar.
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Old 07-21-2011   #9
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I bought mine new in 1983 for a trip to London with my wife and two children, then 4 and 6. I returned with 10 or 12 rolls of perfectly exposed, perfectly focused, Kodachrome slides, including one shot that I took with available light in the chapel of the Tower of London.

The camera has survived use by my daughter when she was in the fifth grade, being "borrowed" by one of her fifth grade classmates, and a backpacking trip for my son in Alaska. I know that I dropped it at least once. It still works perfectly and the light seals are still good. The time I had a problem with it was a winter trip to Germany when it got too cold. Keeping the camera in an inside pocket solved that one.
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Old 07-21-2011   #10
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I'm the original owner of mine (bought in NYC around 1982) and recently picked up a second XA from a member here. The lens is quite sharp from f4 on down, and is good enough wide- open. Very accurate metering system (the backlight compensation lever is cool), quiet operation, and pocketability make it a great street cam. And try loading it w/ fast film and shooting at iso 800: it's not a bad little night-time shooter.

I think the XA is rather Barnack-like: cool design, pocketable, and more than good enough for taking photos.
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Old 07-22-2011   #11
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Here's one from my Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lookupi...ream/lightbox/
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Meter needle (shutter speed) NOT working is common
Old 07-22-2011   #12
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Meter needle (shutter speed) NOT working is common

My current XA shows no needle movement on the shutter speed, but works excellent on exposure, which is fine with me, since I'm more of an aperture priority shooter. I've had more than one XA with either a non functioning needle, or the needle (shutter speed) was incorrect. In fact at this point in time, I would be very surprised to buy an XA with a correct needle indicating shutter speed.

I use XA and XA2 camera's interchangeably and find the zone focus of the XA2 to be very handy. I enjoy the mild vignetting found on my XA2's.

But my XA is a great shooter and I can always count on well exposed and very sharp images. Who cares what shutter speed. I have a rough idea of whether I am stopping action, or blurring action by the aperture I choose. Obviously the meter is correct if I am getting good shots. Obviously, if I really wanted to know the shutter speed, I could look at the EXIF information!!!!!

The way to tell if the meter is working, looking to buy one, is to shoot various apertures from large to small and listen for changes in the shutter speeds. If you can hear the changes, the meter is likely working and likely correct. If possible, shoot a roll of ASA 200 film at various apertures and process it for prints or put on a CD.

Last edited by kuzano : 07-22-2011 at 11:52.
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Old 07-23-2011   #13
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I put a few more on my Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lookupinwonder/

I can only conclude the camera works great.
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Old 07-23-2011   #14
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I've been shooting XAs for roughly 20 years but bought an XA2 a few years back. I'll say this in my experience of some previous shots taken on my XA. I'll take one or the other with me as I teach in E. Europe and both produce acceptable images, however, I recall being in Slovenia around 1995 on a very cold and snowy day when I came across a military cemetary from WWI. The wind was blowing with snow falling from the trees and heavy snow coming down. I had my XA with me and while the light was rapidly diminishing, I got some really great shots with the XA and it's 2.8 lens, which I'm not sure if the XA2 would or could duplicate. I'm not sure that I can find the pictures but I did download them a few years back and they're in my RF album, along with some other XA shots taken in Poland and Hungary. I leave for Ukraine next week and I'll take my XA with me along with my Yashica MG-1.
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Old 12-03-2011   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zsas View Post
...received...yesterday...tore it apart (cleaned ...resealed...soldered...);... test shots...
...and develop...scan...upload...in just ONE day?...wow you are such a quick shooter.

Last edited by pinkarmy : 12-03-2011 at 19:46.
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Old 12-03-2011   #16
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Ha, yeah, it rained all day and we were grounded so to speak. Just wanted to do a quick and dirty roll o film and generic scan, which turned out great, the fun begins tomorrow when I load in the good film (panf+) and actually think. Best, Andy
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Old 12-04-2011   #17
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I love XA. Being an idiot, I've sold it, but I will buy another one.

Some of my favourite photos from my new book were shot with the XA...

More (not only XA) here: www.wojtekkutyla.com/next_door
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Old 12-04-2011   #18
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It's one of my favorite cameras.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bhop73/...7624124927337/
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Old 12-04-2011   #19
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^bhop - nice photographs! I like how so much of you work is 'in motion' (ie cyclists, walking folks, etc) great energy with your own style!
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Old 12-04-2011   #20
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Love it! Half my "London" pictures in my Flickr were taken with an XA. Have a real problem loading it, though. The leader goes in fine but doesn't catch easily. Anyone have any tips?
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Old 12-04-2011   #21
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The XA saved me when my other camera failed in tibet. A couple of pics.

I sold it and bought a P&S so that I could have autofocus. But I regret doing that now.

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Old 01-05-2012   #22
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I've had an XA sitting on the shelf for years and never bothered to pick it up. It was purchased at a garage sale along with some other photo gear for $1. I figured I'd give it away but never did.

After reading about how great the XA is on this forum I decided to break it out and run some cheap Fuji color film through it just to see if the meter and flash were working properly. I just got my photos back from the One Hour lab at Target and I've already decided that this camera is going to be in my pocket everywhere I go now! I can't believe how good the photos came out! Nice and sharp when stopped down but beautifully soft when opened up. Great color rendering, even with crappy processing! I can't wait to get a roll of B&W through this thing so I can get in the dark room and really see what it will do.

Kinda makes me sick that I searched for years for the perfect knock around camera and it was sitting on my shelf the whole time!
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Old 01-05-2012   #23
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Wonderful story^. Glad to have you joining the ranks! Now post some scans while you are at it!
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Old 01-28-2017   #24
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ХА on Eurovision 1980.

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Old 01-28-2017   #25
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I love mine.

Brown line
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Old 01-28-2017   #26
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I've had my XA for a few years and yes, the shutter button is showing it's age.







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Old 03-13-2017   #27
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I bought an XA with A11 flash online a few weeks ago for a reasonable $60 CAD. Camera arrived today and is in better condition than I expected. Optics are clean and clear. Besides the odd scratch and the serial number plate being half off (I super glued it back down), it's in perfect condition.

I just finished running a roll of Fuji Superia 400 through it and while the RF is pretty dim, it is a joy to shoot. Can't wait to take this camera on an adventure...
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Old 03-13-2017   #28
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I got mine, new, from my dad and I've used it ever since. It was the ultimate stealthy "serious" compact for a long while and still goes unnoticed when I need it to.

I've kept the rangefinder window clean all these years and the patch is still sharp and bright. I may just be lucky. So, how about some pix?


Petrified Forest National Park, October, 1998 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


Jack, Palmdale, CA, November 1998 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


Helen, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, 1998 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


The First Time I Saw Him, November 03, 2010 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


MCB At The Oven, August, 2010 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


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Old 03-13-2017   #29
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Making me wish I hadn't sold mine....

50s Americana by wakarimasen1, on Flickr

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Old 03-13-2017   #30
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Have an XA and XA2. The XA2 has some light leak issues, but the photos come out rather interesting so I think I'll leave it be for now. Love both of them.


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Old 03-13-2017   #31
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Yes!!!! the XA Is fantastic and I love mine. Maybe it's the fact that it's a rangefinder, maybe it's that it was so cheap, but when I had to decide which one small camera to keep (other than my Leica bodies) I favored the XA over my Contax T2, a Lomo L-CA and an Olympus Mju.

Here are my contributions. This is a totally underrated camera, even in NYC I've never seen anyone shooting with it.

Walks of life by Luis Tsukayama Cisneros, on Flickr


Individual lives, waiting for the subway by Luis Tsukayama Cisneros, on Flickr
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My fourth XA
Old 09-09-2017   #32
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My fourth XA

Been without an XA for about 15 years but decided after buying one for my daughter-in-law (I felt she really needed to experience film!) I decided to stock up on one myself while I still can.

Just some scans from a CD that came with the processed film. What a great little camera!



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Old 09-12-2017   #33
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I love my XA. The frame advance winder has gotten a little crunchy towards the end of a roll of 36, so I may start buying 24exp packs, but otherwise it keeps on trucking. I may have to get a couple of them in case this one dies.


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Old 09-12-2017   #34
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I remember the week the XA came out because friend of mine sold his SLR to get this wonderful little clam-shell of a camera. I thought it was a great design but it wasn't until last spring that I got one...and then a second one followed.

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Old 09-13-2017   #35
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My original XA is with John Hermanson for repair; can't wait to get it back...

Open by bingley0522, on Flickr
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Old 09-13-2017   #36
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Olympus XA, Portra 160:

Prinsen Gracht by bingley0522, on Flickr
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