Gear Review – Olympus XA

What? No X100T review?? Nope, still evaluating it. stay tuned. For now , though…

Say hello to my little friend, the 1979 Olympus XA. There are so many great articles on the Innerwebs about this camera that there’s not really anything i could add, but that’s not going to stop me.

img_20160707_223127 uh, 1979 called and they’d like their kickass camera back.

 

Here’s the technical goodies. Compact clamshell 35mm Zuiko lens (6 elements i n 5 groups) f/2.8 aperture priority rangefinder camera . Its meter supports film up to ISO 800, set via a selector under the lens. It can focus down to 2.8 ft, and has a max shutter speed of 1/500s. It can fit in the front pocket of my ten year old’s skinny jeans.

img_20160707_225939 iphone 5 vs. Olympus XA

As you can see it’s pretty small. It’s also very quiet. It has a hair trigger shutter button that’s almost flush with the body allowing quick shots with no shake. It has a custom flash module that actually screws into the side of it.  The clamshell design allows it to “fold” up to protect the lens when not in use.

img_20160707_225951 shhh… it’s sleeping

The real magic is the lens. It’s really sharp and contrasty. It does great in low light, meters fairly accurately in decent light , and well…it just takes great pictures!

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I love this little compact! Even if I have no intention of taking a photo, this is the camera that I roll with out the door. Case and point — I took it to Target one afternoon and grabbed the next photo.

28062628156_0a2b6ea76d_k Yellow, 2016 Memphis – Olympus XA, Fuji color 200

It’s almost Lomo with the vignetting. It certainly has a sweet spot. f/5.6 and infinity are the marks on the camera. I tend shoot at f/4 or f/2.8 since I’m usually in darker light, so some darkening in the corners is expected.

29141830484_fca1120d6e_k Shadow II , Memphis 2016. – Olympus XA, Kentmere 100

For the above photo I set the camera to 200 ISO and exposed for the sunlight on the curtain. The Olympus can struggle and make weird choices occasionally, but that just adds to its charm.

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Pushing Film – This was taken with the XA set to ISO 800, loaded with Kentmere 100, developed in Adox Rodinal for one hour.

What a fantastic bombastic in a tiny shell of plastic. They’re relatively inexpensive ~$50 or so. There was the follow up in 1980 called the XA2. It ditched the rangefinder in favor of fixed focus and a “zone” focus system. Me, I’m a fan of rangefinders. The XA is, in the immortal words of Cyndi Lauper, good enough for me.

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