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Olympus XA a couple of questions.
Old 01-25-2008   #1
Dave Wilkinson
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Olympus XA a couple of questions.

As I get older, I like to travel light, so am looking for a pocket camera, digital is the sensible answer, for my holidays, etc., but try as I may I can't get enthusiastic about the medium!, so right now I'm watching a couple of XA's on Ebay. I believe a couple of small batteries operate everything, and wonder what life expectancy and availability is like? The lens seems to have a good reputation, - I print max A4 inkjets, and about 9x12 in the darkroom, - sometimes cropping, will I be happy? 0r perhaps I should look for a Yashica with Ziess lens?

Comments appreciated,- before I start bidding!

Dave.
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Old 01-25-2008   #2
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I have had 2 XA's for some years. I love them. I have no problems getting the batteries. They seem to last a year or more--plenty long. The lens is top quality. I think every film shooter should have an XA just because it is so pocketable. But recognize that for black & white its utility is limited, since it is not easy to attach filters or a lens shade.
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Old 01-25-2008   #3
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Since I have bought my XA I wonder how I could live without it. I consider the lens as excellent with some vignetting wide open. I like the Rangefinder and the fact that it brings great results when used as a scale focus camera. The batteries should live more than a year. It is a very quiet camera, much more than a motorized Yashica. The design beats any other 35mm pocket.
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Old 01-25-2008   #4
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I've seen/heard only a few people that can't get used to the XA. The lens is just amazing. It's super-corrected for the market that it's designed for.

But... if you *really* hate vignetting, might want to skip this camera

I also have a Yashica T3D with T* Tessar lens. It's amazing what you can get out of this (especially B+W), but it's nowhere as compact and as fun to use as the XA.
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Old 01-25-2008   #5
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For me my XA + Tri-X @ 400 is a perfect carry-around cam.

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Old 01-25-2008   #6
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Thanks for the comments gentlemen! - seems like it will be money well spent!, but -Will, now I'm thinking about that Yashica! ...I spend time in the Mediteranian islands, and like to wonder around the street markets, and alleys shooting B+W, so
maybe I better get one of each, and let the wife put one in her bag!

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Old 01-25-2008   #7
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They ae great. I have two. Only because I found them for $20 each! The A-16 is a decent flash too.
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Old 01-25-2008   #8
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I love the XA. I always have either the XA or a Rollei 35 in a jacket pocket (loaded with color film) to supplement the Canon P with the TriX.

Provided its cool enough for a jacket anyway.

The XA's RF can be a bit fiddly, but it works. And the lens is wide enough to scale focus if you don't want to bother. I've found the AE to be very good overall.

Pretty tough too. Just get the foam seals cleaned up and replaced, and toss an extra battery in a pocket just in case.
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Old 01-25-2008   #9
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Urban B/W doesn't need a filter. So, the filter issue is moot.
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Old 01-25-2008   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Wilkinson
Thanks for the comments gentlemen! - seems like it will be money well spent!, but -Will, now I'm thinking about that Yashica! ...I spend time in the Mediteranian islands, and like to wonder around the street markets, and alleys shooting B+W, so
maybe I better get one of each, and let the wife put one in her bag!

Dave
Let me put another bug in your ear that will be perfect for wondering around: XA-4
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Old 01-25-2008   #11
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Very sharp lens. The flash is removable which suites me just fine for daylight. You will need to check the seals. & always when you travel carry extra batteries.
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Old 01-25-2008   #12
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Don't rule out a Contax T2 if you can deal with some automation- stunning little Sonnar on a T2. A little bigger than the XA, but I carry one often.
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Old 01-25-2008   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb
Don't rule out a Contax T2 if you can deal with some automation- stunning little Sonnar on a T2. A little bigger than the XA, but I carry one often.
No argument here on the performance of the T2! I have both the XA and the T2 and surely the T2 wins hands down especially for color work for saturation and contrast though it is quite a bit heavier in the pocket than the XA. But the XA lens performance being no slouch it's what I carry when I do not have a good strong pocket to hold the T2.
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Old 01-25-2008   #14
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I can't wait to get some TMY-2 in my XA.

I have an enlargement full-frame on 8x10 paper that is hanging on the wall. Tri-X @ 200, HC-110, neg made in 1984-ish ... no one can believe it's from such a tiny little "toy" camera.
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Old 01-25-2008   #15
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Get 2 XA's. They are old enough to occasionally bail on you.

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=xa&w...21%40N00&s=int
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Old 01-25-2008   #16
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I carry an XA in my inside jacket pocket every day.

This camera is as quiet to use as any I've ever used
and the results from it have always been excellent.

Incidentally, they can be serviced (not cheap, but good)
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Old 01-25-2008   #17
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I have one and a Ricoh GR1v, which in many respects is a better camera (but much more expensive). But I prefer the XA's 35mm lens to the wider lens of the Ricoh.

The only problem I've had with my XA is that the rangefinder patch has faded and is very hard to see in most kinds of light. The following might be of interest:

http://www.urban75.org/photos/olympus-xa.html

http://diaxa.nfshost.com/xa/xa.htm
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Old 01-25-2008   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rich815
...quite a bit heavier in the pocket...
Yes, forgot to mention that weight thing. The T2 could be almost twice as heavy, half again at least.
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Old 01-25-2008   #19
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i love the XA. small, compact and works fantastically. so far the AE hasnt let me down and the backlight compensation is a nice touch.

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Old 01-25-2008   #20
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Another thumbs up for the XA. The OP asked about life expectancy of the camera. I bought mine new in the early 1980s, still own it, and it's still going strong. The rf patch is faded, the exterior is a bit nicked, but the lens is still great and the shutter and meter are still working just fine. Never had it serviced. If you want a capable rf you can slip into your pocket, it's just right.
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The comments on focus and rangefinder patch
Old 01-25-2008   #21
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The comments on focus and rangefinder patch

lead me to be happy that I have two XA2's in addition to my XA... Zone focus, no dim rangefinder patch, and sharp pics. Full automation. I always looked down on the XA2/XA3 models because of the lack of manual controls. Then I bought two for $20. Put batteries (readily available for All the XA's). I often find tha the pocket camera of choice is one of the XA2's, but they do vignette a bit more than the XA. I also had the Selenium Cell XA1 for a while and found it quite usable.

If you get an XA, spend another $10 and get an XA2. You may be surprised at the ease of use.

Now, I only take the XA out when I want a far more complicated photography experience.
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Old 01-25-2008   #22
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You'll be happy with an XA. It's a suprisingly good little camera. It has a very nice lens, a fine meter, and good flat film plane. It's not a bullet proof body, but it's a very durable little thing, and very light weight. I carry one whenever I don't want a larger camera- and sometimes alongside a larger one. My travel kit these days is very often an XA for 35mm, and an M with a 50 and the tiny CV 21mm. The XA is so good, I use it more than my 35mm Summicron- it's my go-to 35mm lens. The meter does a good job with slide and negative film, color and black and white.

Don't worry about the RF patch- they aren't great, but it works fine in good light, and it works great as a scale focus camera, regardless of the light. I use mine easily with one hand to control the focus, advance, and shutter, making it very discrete.

As another poster noted, few are the folks who don't get along with these cameras. If you happen to be one, you shouldn't have any trouble getting your money back. They go fast when they appear in the classifieds here, for good reason.
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Old 01-25-2008   #23
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It is possible to wear out an XA beyond repair ... I've done it. There is a gear (or other some such part, I can't recall what John H. said exactly) in the film wind mechanism that can wear out and a replacement part is not available except as cannibalized form another XA.

So yes, buy two!

XA, APX 100/Rodinal 1:100

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Old 01-27-2008   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb
Don't rule out a Contax T2 if you can deal with some automation- stunning little Sonnar on a T2. A little bigger than the XA, but I carry one often.

Excuse an old man's ignorance! - but does the T2 take regular 35mm cassettes? - as I saw one on Ebay....and it said APS! ....whatever that is?

they certaintly look quallity!, and are very tempting!!

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Old 01-27-2008   #25
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I grew up in a family with an XA2 and have, in the past decade, acquired an XA and a pair of my own XA2s. They're among my favourite cameras -- both types are capable of sharp and bold images; and the aperture control of the XA is a cool thing to have. The only issues I have with mine are dying seals on one of the XA2s (the XA came with new seals), an erratic trigger on ... huh, I can't remember on which one now; and a frustratingly dim rangefinder patch in the XA2... Having recently found a DOF scale for the XA, that last bit doesn't bother me so much anymore.
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Old 01-27-2008   #26
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Quote:
For me my XA + Tri-X @ 400 is a perfect carry-around cam
That's the exact combination I carry around in a pocket or a bag wherever I go (well, except for the times I have my XA4/Tri-X with me).
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Old 01-27-2008   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Wilkinson
Excuse an old man's ignorance! - but does the T2 take regular 35mm cassettes? - as I saw one on Ebay....and it said APS! ....whatever that is?

they certaintly look quallity!, and are very tempting!!

Dave
The T2 takes regular ol' 35mm film. That was either the Contax T ix or a mis-informed eBay seller.
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Old 01-27-2008   #28
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Dave the T2 is 35mm. Contax also made the Tix which is APS.
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Old 01-28-2008   #29
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Minolta TC-1 or Nikon 35Ti

... two others to give you more headache

The problem I have with T2 or these two above is that they are rare. Therefore they are 1) expensive. 2) who's going to fix them when they break?

With XA family, once busted, get another one on the 'bay and go your merry way.
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Old 01-28-2008   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
Minolta TC-1 or Nikon 35Ti

... two others to give you more headache

The problem I have with T2 or these two above is that they are rare. Therefore they are 1) expensive. 2) who's going to fix them when they break?

With XA family, once busted, get another one on the 'bay and go your merry way.
There are 5 Contax T2's on eBay right now. Would not exactly call that rare. One with a BIN for $249. Not bad for a titinium body with a Sonnar lens. Not to knock the XA (I've got two!) but in terms of build quality there is no comparison XA vs. T2. Sure I can easily and cheaply replace an XA (though seems decent ones go for $50 or more, not exactly pocket change) I'd rather it not break in the first place in the middle of shooting or on a vacation or something. I've dropped my T2 in such a way that would likely have the XA is smitherens! But the T2 kept going....
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Old 01-28-2008   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
Minolta TC-1 or Nikon 35Ti

... two others to give you more headache

The problem I have with T2 or these two above is that they are rare. Therefore they are 1) expensive. 2) who's going to fix them when they break?

With XA family, once busted, get another one on the 'bay and go your merry way.

mmmm, ...good point, Will - been drooling over T2's all weekend!, but just had my first glimpse of the Nikon...WOW!!! Ebay (UK) #180209601180 I think if I go back for a second look, - I'll loose control and start pressing the paypal buttons!! gas again!!

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Old 01-28-2008   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rich815
There are 5 Contax T2's on eBay right now. Would not exactly call that rare. One with a BIN for $249. Not bad for a titinium body with a Sonnar lens. Not to knock the XA (I've got two!) but in terms of build quality there is no comparison XA vs. T2. Sure I can easily and cheaply replace an XA (though seems decent ones go for $50 or more, not exactly pocket change) I'd rather it not break in the first place in the middle of shooting or on a vacation or something. I've dropped my T2 in such a way that would likely have the XA is smitherens! But the T2 kept going....
Ok, Rich, T2 wins
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Old 03-04-2008   #33
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...to anyone who's bothered about the fade-out RF-patch - this may probably help you (sorry if you already know it):

http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-165.html

it's done in a minute and works great!




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Old 03-04-2008   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trius
It is possible to wear out an XA beyond repair ... I've done it. There is a gear (or other some such part, I can't recall what John H. said exactly) in the film wind mechanism that can wear out and a replacement part is not available except as cannibalized form another XA.
I believe that's what happened to mine. I started with an XA2 (because I didn't know the difference between the XA, XA2, XA3 & XA4) but recently got an XA. After one roll of film the whole camera locked up and I sent it back to the seller. It's currently in the shop, awaiting a diagnosis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Kinnan
... and a frustratingly dim rangefinder patch in the XA2 ...
The XA2 doesn't have a rangefinder.

I only shot one roll of Tri-X with my XA, but I was really happy with it: http://life-electronic.net/blog/?p=610

The XA2 is a really great camera, too. Some people say it has a "darker" 3.5 lens, but it's certainly no slouch.
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Old 04-14-2008   #35
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[quote=


The XA2 doesn't have a rangefinder.

[/quote]

Yes, I'm aware of that; I obviously meant "XA." Or perhaps I meant "XA, too."
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XA and XA2
Old 04-14-2008   #36
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XA and XA2

Over the years, I have usually managed to have an XA around. I really like the camera for it's pocketability. However, some time ago I picked up two working XA2 models for $20. Fully automatic and Zone Focus. Nothing to do but load film, set the film speed, make a reasonable guess at the distance and shoot. Now the XA2 is my pocket camera and the XA has not been out for a long time.

The lens on the XA2 is slightly different, but I have not seen a difference of note in any of my images. As I recall, the XA3 added DX coding, so you can't manipulate the film speed to compensate or rate film at other speeds.
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Old 04-26-2008   #37
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XA for me anyday, i think it strikes the perfect and hard to achieve balance of pocketability, quality, and control, plus its a really fun little gem to use.
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Old 04-26-2008   #38
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I've now obtained a nice XA (Ebay) and tested with a roll of Portra-160 neg., this was mostly underexposed, so it looks like I'll need to set a slower ISO than indicated on the box?. Being used to much heavier cameras, I seem to be having trouble holding it steady, as a few suffered from shake!, but the others are nice and sharp and contrasty. Rangefinder patch is barely visible,-I believe this is normal, but depth of field is o.k for scale focus most of the time! Next in line is a roll of XP2, and I'll hopefully post some results!

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Old 05-03-2008   #39
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I'm really warming to my 'new' XA!.....in a weeks time I go to southern Turkey for three weeks, and the XA will be in my bag, as back-up, I'm taking a r/f and three lenses (35,50,&105) but the way things are going, I reckon the XA may get the most use! - especially for those sneaky street candids! I plan to load it with XP2, and wondered if anyone uses this in an XA? and can advise on the best ISO setting (I think mine underexposes a little). I know XP2 has good latitude, but don't want too dense a neg.! BTW a previous reply, re curing the fading r/f patch.....I cut a small square from an old multigrade filter and stuck it in the middle of the viewfinder,-it works great!!, and I'm gratefull!

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