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The classic high quality compact "point-n-shoot" camera, offering rangefinder focusing and manual aperture setting. The Olympus XA also offers a +1.5 stop exposure compensation. It's compact, pocketable and features a 35mm f/2.8 Zuiko lens.
Submitted by Ray a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: May 13, 2011
Strengths: Very light and compact: brilliant design
Good, sharp lens most of the time (3.5-8)
Excellent lens protection when closed
Weaknesses: Age made my 3 unreliable
Lens vignettes when stopped down
Rangefinder barely usable in dim light
Lens no sharper than Minox and less so than the Contaxt T or Rollei 35S
In addition to medium format and different SLR outfits I have, I have collected and used many different cameras from the 70's. I thought I would really like the XA as I heard and read so many good things. I have had 3 and they were just OK, but quite frankly the shutter has frozen on one, the film advance broke on the other and the exposure is now off on the third. I have had better luck and results from my Contaxt T and Minox 35s (GT and GT-E) which continue to work well. Considering the age of the XA, it is far cheaper to buy another used one than to try to have it serviced. Stopped down past F 11 it vignettes and my drawbridge cameras (Contax, Minox and Balda) cameras are at their best at F11. The rangefinder is hard to use and too small to see in dim light, but better than the gestimation on my Minox or Rollei 35S cameras. The rangefinder on the Contaxt T is far better. Over all I carried my Minox and Contaxt more often than the XA..when they worked.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $70.00
Purchased At: ebay7
Similar Products Used: Minox GT, GT-E
Type of photography: Outdoor
Submitted by Stefan Kronberg a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: May 3, 2011
Strengths: Small, lightweight, lightning fast, excellent results. Batteries last forever. Sensor trigger button reduces vibration, as does lack of mirror slap = good low light camera. Very durable design (I have two, and they both work flawlessly even after 30 years!). By comparison, I have broken two Minox 35s, and have never seen a fully working Minox 35, actually. Rollei 35s are durable, but their slow shutter speeds are often off. Newer designs cost way more than an XA, and I wouldn't vouch for the longevity of all those lens motors, AF sensors and computer chips inside, either. The XA, in sum, is the perfect user camera, to me
Although rarely pointed out, this camera must be rated as one of the biggest design classics ever, as far as cameras go: The reason millions of point & shoot designs look like this quality rangefinder is that the XA design was copied so widely! This, in other words, is the origin of the "clam shell" design...
Weaknesses: ... but I must admit, a Rollei 35 just looks nicer to me.
The comparison also points to the two weaknesses of the XA:
- In the perfect world, there would be a DOF scale on the focussing scale,
- and the camera would have at least one mechanical shutter speed in case the batteries (at long last) fail.
That's why I keep a Rollei 35, too. 99,9% of my fotos, I take with the XA, though -- your mileage may vary.
The Olympus XA is, by far, the best camera for quick and unobstrusive picture taking: It opens quickly (unlike, say, a Rollei 35, which has to extend its lens, then take off lens cap) and is ready to shoot almost instantly (unlike any digital camera you can find even in 2011, and unlike the Rollei 35 AFM, Contax T series etc.). Given its design, you don't have to take it out of a pouch or take of a lens cap, either. Brilliant!
The focussing is incredibly quick and easy, and pre-focussing is possible to some degree, too. The whole process is also much quicker as the Minox 35, with its fiddly little rings around the lens barrel: The XA separates focussing and aperture choice to two levers you can control separately, and which are impossible to confuse. The aperture-priority makes correct exposure an easy task (much quicker than a Rollei 35, again).
All of this wouldn't be worth much if the pictures weren't any good. Thankfully, the XA lens is outstanding, really second to none. All in all a fun camera to use, with excellent ergonomics and excellent results. If this camera looks somewhat cheap on some pictures, pick it up and you will also notice that this is a quality camera. Nothing wobbles or creaks. Cool to the touch surface, smooth levers -- nice!
Duration Product Used: 11-20 years
Price Paid: $50.00
Purchased At: Various flea markets
Similar Products Used: Rollei 35,
Rollei 35 AFM,
Olympus Mju I and Mju II (Stylus/ Stylus Epic),
various crappy point & shoots (never again!)
Type of photography: Outdoor
Submitted by raywob a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: March 4, 2010
Strengths: light meter, lens, durable, shutter just about the whole camera
Weaknesses: The range finder could be better especially in low light situations, If it had the Zorki 4 finder it would be perfect
I've had and have a lot of cameras to many to list, I like the 120 format and twin lens especially mostly because of the price. I have many 35mm SLR outfits and they are too much to pack (just get closer) especially since I do most of my shooting while I’m traveling so now I travel with an XA and a Minolta autocord, I have a Rollie but traveling the Minolta I feel is less likely to attract attention and frankly from what I have seen they take as good a picture. But this is not about my twin lens but the XA which I usually will pocket without the flash while walking around. I have several and have paid up to $100 for one and as little as $5, if I see one I buy it if I can. If I want a real finesse shot I’ll go to the Minolta but for a quick shot on the street no camera I have ever used beats the XA. In limited light situations braced against a tree or tilted on a table it performs outstanding, I can not say too much about what a terrific camera it is. With a pizzo shutter to cut down on vibration (why that didn’t catch on I don’t know) and an outstanding lens as well as light meter it seems my best shots have come from that little gem.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Purchased At: various
Similar Products Used: many
Type of photography: People
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