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  1. #1
    grommi's Avatar
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    Olympus XA rangefinder accuracy

    Hi there,

    my XA is in a very good condition, but the rangefinder has a deviation of about 20 cm at the lower end. Does anybody have a perfect working rangefinder and is it possible to adjust it at home? The service manual doesn't look encouraging......

    Best - Reinhold

  2. #2
    David Lyga's Avatar
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    That XA is poplular but is a camera not built to the most precise standards. The lens is good, but learn to earmark inaccuracies such as this. (Also, the shutter button is notorious for 'failing' sometimes.) Each time you take a picture (mostly close up is when the inaccuracy will manifest) allow for this. Place the camera on a tripod and shoot something close up with clearly marked borders. Then inspect the negative and see just how much you are off. From then on, make the manual adjustment.

    When you build for mass market and create within the restricted parameters allowed by tiny, 'precise' instruments, sometimes you have to allow for that. - David Lyga

  3. #3
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    "...not being built to precise standards". I don't accept that at all, and I've owned about 6 XA cameras since my first in 1979. None of them came to fault, just a waxing-waning interest in photography before I fully pursued it.
    The precision of engineering (especially the lens and meter control circuits) has been very well documented and tested over the decades.
    A 20cm deviation!? Are you sure? 20mm might be more accurate. It looks like the parallax overlay has been jolted out of position (e.g. dropped).
    XAs re fairly easy to service by technicians; the problem today is sourcing spare parts. The shutter button will last and last; how you treat it has a bearing on how long it serves you. People stabbing at the shutter button, or worse, using a fingernail, should expect early failure.


  4. #4
    grommi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour View Post
    A 20cm deviation!? Are you sure? 20mm might be more accurate. It looks like the parallax overlay has been jolted out of position (e.g. dropped).
    It's not a parralax thing, the distance metering is quite wrong. F.e. saying distance is 0.85 m at a real distance of 0.65 m. So I get a backfocus of about 20 cm for close distances. With a 35 mm lens you need a proper rangefinder reading only for close distances, so it's more or less a useless feature on this exemplar.

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    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    I don't really see your point. The XA has that semi-wide angle 35mm lens of fairly modest specs (albeit for its era, very clever construction); it doesn't require super-accurate focusing to begin with, the reason being the large depth of field that will provide sufficiently sharp images despite any focusing anomalies. Surely you've seen this in your own photos with this camera, as we all have? If you shoot at a shallow apeture and wonder why there is a short zone of acceptable sharpness, that is not the camera's discrepeancy, but your choice of aperture. It's not an SLR where depth of field is scrutinised by direct coupling between the lens Av control and the viewfinder.


  6. #6
    ath
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    When the rangefinder is off 20cm at 85cm distance no dof is going to rescue you. My XA is far more precise, I don't think I have more than 5cm error. It isn't a Leica though and I don't use it for closeups.
    Regards,
    Andreas

  7. #7
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ath View Post
    When the rangefinder is off 20cm at 85cm distance no dof is going to rescue you. My XA is far more precise, I don't think I have more than 5cm error. It isn't a Leica though and I don't use it for closeups.

    I have personally never heard of this extravagant inaccuracy with the XA; this is the first time I've read about it in a very long time of researching and using XAs from the first in 1979 to the most recent from 2011. I suspect it might have come to grief through rough treatment/knocking.


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    David Lyga's Avatar
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    Obviously, ostensibly at least, it seems the OP has erred with the twenty centimeters, but has he really?

    He just might be talking about the actual item photographed being off of by such amount (almost eight inches, avoirdupois-wise). In other words, if he is taking a picture of a person's head, that head's image in the negative will be 'off' by an amount equivalent to 20 cm from the actual head's center. In other words, when he thought that the top of the head was flush with the top of the viewfinder, the head was actually an equivalent of eight inches LOWER in the negative. Of course, it is NOT eight inches lower in the actual negative, but only with regard to the original scene.

    Poisson, we might disagree to some extent, but, at least to me, the XA does not represent a very high standard of expertise. Many out there have found the circuitry to be flawed and prone to malfunctioning when just tiny bit of dirt gets involved in the circuitry. Of course, the basic stamping of the body's alignment is precise...that is not hard to do. But, compared with the Canon 17 or other Canon RF's or, notably, the Olympus RC or RD, or the great Minolta Hi-matics, the XA does not really pass muster. That said, great photographs can be made with the XA. But, given the option, one would be more prudent to acquire the others mentioned. The XA is a good camera and not wildly inaccurate at all, but not as well made. - David Lyga
    Last edited by David Lyga; 02-15-2013 at 09:31 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9
    grommi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lyga View Post
    Obviously, ostensibly at least, it seems the OP has erred with the twenty centimeters, but has he really?

    He just might be talking about the actual item photographed being off of by such amount (almost eight inches, avoirdupois-wise). In other words, if he is taking a picture of a person's head, that head's image in the negative will be 'off' by an amount equivalent to 20 cm from the actual head's center. In other words, when he thought that the top of the head was flush with the top of the viewfinder, the head was actually an equivalent of eight inches LOWER in the negative. Of course, it is NOT eight inches lower in the actual negative, but only with regard to the original scene.
    No, the OP has not erred with the 20 cm and to say it again clearly, it's NOT a parralax thing of the viewfinder but a distance metering thing of the rangefinder.

    Anyway, so far obviously nobody knows how to fix that (calibrate the rangefinder) with household resources, so I stick with guessing the distance. But the real sense of a rangefinder is another one than guessing .....

    Best - Reinhold

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    Quote Originally Posted by grommi View Post
    No, the OP has not erred with the 20 cm and to say it again clearly, it's NOT a parralax thing of the viewfinder but a distance metering thing of the rangefinder.

    Anyway, so far obviously nobody knows how to fix that (calibrate the rangefinder) with household resources, so I stick with guessing the distance. But the real sense of a rangefinder is another one than guessing .....

    Best - Reinhold
    OP please correct me if I misunderstood you. I think that the OP meant that when the scale on the lens is set at 0.85 m then the film plane has to be 0.65 m from the subject for the rangefinder images to match. I found that this is true for my XA as well however it does not result in out of focus image because the lens is actually focus at 0.65 m only the scale on the lens is wrong. In fact you would be wrong by 20cm if you were to estimate or measure the distance with a ruler and set the lens using its scale.

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