Olympus XA

Ah the XA. One of the smallest rangefinder camera’s ever made, built in Japan and sold from 1979 to 1985.  Yoshihisa Maitani (January 8, 1933 – July 30, 2009) designed this little beauty along with the Olympus Pen, the Pen F half-frame cameras, the OM System, and later the Stylus, having  joined Olympus in 1956 and worked for them for 40 years.  The original XA features true rangefinder focusing, a fast 35mm f/2.8 lens, and aperture priority metering. The lens was protected by a sliding dust cover. Film wind is by thumb-wheel, aperture is set on the body using a small lever, focus is set by a small lever below the lens, film speed (ISO) is set on a dial below the lens, the viewfinder is optical direct-view with the rangefinder frame embedded in it and a display of the shutter speed at the side. None of the subsequent releases had that.

If you google Olypus XA reviews you will read or see photographers eulogise over them and the fact that they can do so much in such a small size, it’s smaller than a mobile phone and fits in a pocket easily.

I’ve been getting on well with my Minolta Riva Mini, and it being a point and shoot with no control other than to press the shutter I have found it quite difficult to really stuff up a shot. I thought it high time I took back control of my pictures.  🙂  I’d read quite a few reviews on the XA after coming across a Youtube review from one of the photographers I follow, so scoured the interweb and managed to find one in good condition at a reasonable price.  It arrived back in June and it’s been in my pocket since then, and over the past couple of months I’ve shot 2 rolls of Kodak Portra 400 with it. My first roll, a test roll really, came back with some light leaks on some of the pictures, but not all of them.  Can’t say I’m a fan of light leaks, people use mobile aps or filters to put them over perfectly good photo’s to make them appear ‘retro’ or ‘analogue’, I mean, duh!? I figure in using the XA I’m already analogue and retro, I don’t really need light leaks too. I’m glad I sent a second roll along with the first as the 2nd one didn’t have light leaks, so I’m putting it down to ‘operator error’ and not the camera malfunctioning.

Anyway, I sadly digitally converted the lightleak shots to B&W, which defeats the object really, but at least I saved the pictures.

Light leak on left and fuschia


central light leak, converted to B&W

I’m still getting a handle on the focussing.  Looking through the viewfinder there are 2 little squares that you need to bring together over your subject in order for it to be in focus, I’m not always successful.

central light leak converted to B&W,  Liddy blurry.


The second roll came out much better, and the camera does well at close ups, with some cool bokeh


The lens is sharp too, when you do get it in focus!

Cheeseburn Grange


Cheeseburn Grange

Onward ever onwards, I’ve finished another roll in the XA, and I’ve still got a roll to finish in the Riva, I can’t remember what’s on it so it will be exciting to get that finished!  On top of that it was my birthday yesterday, and there may well be a new old film camera on it’s way, well there definitely is as I ordered it myself  🙂  but that’s for another post on another day.

Stay tooned folks!