Monday, April 9, 2012

Olympus XA

Lens: 35mm f/2.8 6 elements 5 groups F.Zuiko
Shutter: 10 seconds to 1/500 leaf shutter
Focusing: 0.9m to infinity rangefinder
Exposure: aperture-priority
Battery: 2 LR/SR44
Produced: 1979–1985

I put the film canister in the picture so you can get some idea of how small the XA is. When it was released in 1979 the XA was somewhat of a sensation. It may be the smallest 35mm rangefinder ever made.  Unlike other small cameras of the time the lens on the XA did not need to be extended for picture taking.  I am not going to pretend that I understand the design that made this possible, however it seems that people who know about such things were very impressed. Besides being small the XA takes excellent pictures. It was said to be the camera that professional photographers took on vacation.

When I got my Olympus XA it looked great on the outside, however I found that it had a badly corroded battery.  After a lot of cleaning I put some new batteries in and it appeared to be dead.  So I sat the camera aside and didn't look at it for a couple of days. When I did look I found that the Olympus XA was fully functional. And the XA has worked fine since then.  Why it didn't work at first may have been due to something I have read about called "dry capacitor syndrome".  Looks like somethings just needed to be charged up after being so long without power.  Since then I have found it is a good idea not to give up on a camera if it doesn't power up right away.

The XA is definitely a pocket camera.  I can walk around with it in my shirt pocket all day and barely notice that it is there.  The clam-shell covers the lens so I never have to keep track of a lens cover.  The rangefinder spot is fairly bright and easy to get good focus with.  After having used the XA for nearly a year I can say that it does live up to the hype.  One thing to watch for when using the XA is that the shutter button is very sensitive.  It doesn't take much of a touch to set it off.  This is good for reducing camera shake, however it makes it easy to waste a shot too.  Another thing with this camera that I wonder about is the seemingly flimsy film rewind.  The lever on the XA seems like one from a cheap plastic point and shot.  Although I haven't heard of people having any problem with it breaking.

Once again I don't see any point in repeating more detail for this camera when others have already covered the topic well.  So here are some links.

Almost forgot the link to the Olympus XA Gallery

This site has a review for the XA from when it first came out.
XA - The Original

XA entry from Matt's Classic Cameras

Info about the XA and a little about the other cameras in the XA series.
Olympus XA and XA4 Macro


  1. Kinda hard to realize how small the camera is, even with the film holder to compare it with.

    Discovered that I couldn't enlarge the barbershop photo, not sure why. Wanted to see if those haircuts really were $37(??).

    Sounds like a nice camera. Can't figure what a 10 sec. exposure could be for, though. 'u'

    1. The pictures should go up to 800x600 or so. I can see the haircuts are $11 when it is at that size. Maybe there is something in your browser setting that doesn't allow Google to show the large size.

  2. I've wanted one of these for years but have been unwilling to pay the prices they command. Nice to know that it's such a pleasant user.

    1. I looked on Ebay to check the prices before I wrote this and it looked like the price had come down some. At least that was a quick impression. I'm not sure why that would be. Although it seemed like there were quite a few of them for sale right now so that probably hurts the prices.