Should I ditch my current set of cameras for an Olympus XA?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Forrest Conifer, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. Forrest Conifer

    Forrest Conifer Member

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    Since 2011, I've acquired assorted 35mm cameras from thrift stores, estate sales and eBay. Only recently, however, have I started using any of them. My two favorites thus far are the Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 and the Ricoh FF3-AF.

    One of my favorite photographers has recently made it known that his primary camera is an Olympus XA rangefinder. I found a website dedicated to the XA series, and I'm beginning to think that it might be a good idea to sell my current crop of 35mm cameras and use the funds to buy an XA - one of the originals, not an XA2 or any of the other later models.

    Are there any XA users here who would be willing to help me in my decision? Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated.
     
  2. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    I've owned a few XA's in the past. I didn't have luck with any of them as they all died one way or another. Based on my personal experience, and the age of this camera, I would not/could not consider an XA as a primary camera. You can buy one for around $50. The market value of your current cameras is minimal ($2-5) in my area.
     
  3. dehk

    dehk Member

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    I think the biggest thing you're looking at is early AF (not as dependable) vs RF.
     
  4. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    XA2 user here, it's my carry piece so to speak (whereas my 5x7" Kodak kit camera is a bazooka)

    I was in the same boat as you, whole slew of compacts and film cameras....narrowed my kit down to a Soviet FED-2, Nikon FE/FG, and parted with all of my compacts except my XA2.

    Yeah it's not an XA, but it gets the job done for me and I've already got a dedicated RF system, I got the II because I wanted fully automatic exposure just point and shoot.
     
  5. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Forrest Conifer,

    You probably should not ditch everything for the Olympus XA. But feel free to pick one up and use it. Sometimes when you find a small unassuming lightweight 35mm camera that does all you need, you think that it's silly to want for more.

    I'd rather hear you ditched everything for an Olympus OM-1 and Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 because the skill you pick up can be more transferrable.

    Same film size goes in. But you can see more of what you are aiming at through an SLR than a small viewfinder can offer. And it isn't THAT much bigger or heavier.
     
  6. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I had an XA bought new in 1980. It's a fine camera but I only had it until 84 so I don't know the long term. I recently bought 4 XA's but none of of them really work. The RF faded so it's very difficult to see now. The meter needles on 2 of them don't work (although the cameras still expose film correctly because Oly built 2 metering system into the XA. One for exposure and one for just display). Out of the 2 working the one that has good metering doesn't look too good and has very faded RF. The other looks very nice and the RF is good but the indicating meter is off by 2 stop but the exposing meter is OK.
    So I like the XA I must say finding a truly fully functioning one is difficult.
     
  7. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    Ditto.
     
  8. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    XA is a very capable camera. Any good photographer can make excellent images with it. I just said a lot in those two sentences.
     
  9. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    well...

    One can always look around for a camera that you want that is in perfect condition. Talking about the XA rang a bell for me so I looked and found I have an Olympus AF Trip 50 in its original box, unopened, with two AA batteries and one roll of Kodak Gold film. The film has two dates, 10-1-2007 and 5-25-2005.
    The point is, you never know what is out there until you look.
     
  10. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    Buy an XA, try it and see if you like it. It may do everything you want it to do or it may not. I have one which I use from time to time. Good lens, easy to put is pocket. Much to like, however there is a reason why they make both chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Bill Barber
     
  11. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The XA is a neat little companion to pack away in the pocket (sans flash) for walks around the bush; currently I'm running an old roll of TMax 100 through it. Over 35 years I have owned four of them (the one I have would be the fifth) — one of which accompanied me on my travels around a good chunk of Australia from 1982 to 1984. It's a bit fidgety if you have big fingers and can be hit-and-miss to focus if you wear glasses or have a vision defect. The condition of the viewfinder and focusing accuracy can be dramatically affected by rough handling and needs careful checking. The best advice I reckon is to take one for a test drive and make up your own mind re suitability.
     
  12. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    While it is true that the XA is a very capable camera, small, light, and packed with features usually found in bigger cameras, they are also prone to electronics failure from age. These haven't been made in many years and many have been abused. The circuit boards are flimsy and once cracked, the camera no longer functions. I bought one new in the 80's and it rode everywhere in my pocket for many years. I just sold it a couple of years ago, after letting it live in a drawer for several years.
     
  13. momus

    momus Member

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    If you can swing it, buy one before selling anything. Then make your decision. They're fun little cameras, very unobtrusive, good optics. But they're still old, electronic plastic cameras, and one day it just won't work (like mine did). I wouldn't want one for my only camera, and would recommend a Konica C-35 or one of the many C-35 clones. Build quality is not the best, but they're metal, have a great lens, and are cheap. They have AE, but the simple exposure lock (half press on the shutter button) gives you control of that. Very fast and simple to use.
     
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  15. Forrest Conifer

    Forrest Conifer Member

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    Alright, thanks for the perspectives everyone! I actually have been considering an OM-1 for some time. I'm pretty broke right now, but I'm going to try and get my hands on one in the next few months.

    Sounds like the XA is a bit fidgety, but if I can find a cheap one somewhere I'll give it a test run. :smile:
     
  16. kanzlr

    kanzlr Subscriber

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    The XA is a cute little camera, and if you find a decent sample it is a lot of fun to just carry it along. But it is not all its cracked up to be regarding lens quality. Yes, it is sharp already at f2.8, but image quality degrades significantly towards the edges. I take the XA along for hikes, but I am not always happy with the image quality for landscape shots. It is a compromise, after all.
     
  17. trythis

    trythis Subscriber

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    I am just putting my third roll through one. I like using it but its not as nice as a decent lens on an slr. Its the best camera I have when its the camera I have and its so small that I always do.

    sent from phone. excuse my typing.
     
  18. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    Given the price this camera type can be bought for I can't imagine the need to dump any current camera, most can be found at boot sales for next to nothing, or on eBay at a fraction more than that. As an XA owner I can't say it is the best pocket camera but in its day it was the most revolutionary so has a lot of followers. Personally I prefer to use my XA2, and for a 'better' camera an olympus 35RC.

    Steve
     
  19. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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  20. Forrest Conifer

    Forrest Conifer Member

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    It's not so much a monetary issue as a question of having so many cameras that I get overwhelmed and a number of them just lie on the shelf vs. having a smaller number which makes it easier to choose one to dust off and use.

    Good to know, thanks for the link. I've been salivating over a K1000 at a local camera shop and it looks like there's an adapter available that would let me use that lens with it if I do pick it up.
     
  21. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Member

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    I have XA with me everywhere since 2012. My every day camera. Two easy to find anywhere, cheap batteries lasts as long as you are willing to keep them in the camera.
    Perfectly made to be in the pocket. Easy to focus with distance scale, RF patch isn't very visible but usable for precise focusing at near distances and f2.8.
    The lens in it is very good lens. For b/w and works very well with color.
     
  22. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    I've got the XA, XA1, XA2 and XA4. My least favorite of all of them is the XA. The RF patch is very small and the focus lever is a bit tough to use. But as many have pointed out over the years, a 35mm lens with a RF is a bit of an odd combination. The XA2 is very easy to use and gives great results. A 35f3.5 lens very forgiving in focusing. The ASA selection provided all the exposure control I ever needed.

    But my favorite is actually the XA1. It is the heart of a Trip 35 in the body of an XA. I've gotten some very good shots with mine. And it will continue to work after a nuclear holocaust.
     
  23. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Why a 35mm lens with RF is an odd combination? Many RF cameras have lenses with focal length around that.
     
  24. pen s

    pen s Member

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    As an alternative look for an Olympus Stylus Infinity, the original with the f3.5 lens. They seem to hold up much better than the XA and go for $20 to $30 in good condition. With the cover in place they are quite compact.
     
  25. trythis

    trythis Subscriber

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    From what I have read, selenium electronics dont hold up well against an EMP, but then there would be other things to worry about.
    :sick:
     
  26. bimmey

    bimmey Member

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    The XA is always with me. As others have stated, it fits in a pocket (unless you wear "skinny jeans") and can produce nice images. I don't find it very good wide open, but stop it down to a stop or two and you will be very happy with the results.