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.
Why a 35mm lens with RF is an odd combination? Many RF cameras have lenses with focal length around that.
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.
From what I have read, selenium electronics dont hold up well against an EMP, but then there would be other things to worry about.
Originally Posted by thuggins
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.
A 35mm lens has such a large DoF that a rangefinder is hardly needed. This is a much discussed point regarding the XA. The focus scale only has four marks (in feet): 2.8, 4, 8 and infinity. And 8 is shown as the hyperfocal. The XA1 does quite nicely as a fixed focus, with a lens only one stop slower.
Originally Posted by Chan Tran
The Stylus is also a great little camera, actually smaller than the XA and with a built in flash. It does suffer from the auto-focus curse, though. The program tends toward a large aperture and fast shutter speed, apparently because the designers felt camera shake was a problem. But even with this, it takes some beautiful shots. And the meter has always been spot on with slide film (of course, I've never had meter accuracy issues with any Oly!)
I'll add that I like the XA as a second film body for travel. I'm the original owner of an XA I bought in the early 80s, and it's still going strong. I picked a second one up several years ago as insurance. On vacation travel, I shoot Portra in it and put bw in a Leica. It's great to be able to slip the XA in a pocket when going out to dinner.
The lens is more than good enough. Yes, it vignettes wide open but that's part of its character. stopped down to 5.6 or 8 it's very sharp, with nicely balanced contrast. Maybe not as sharp as a Rollei 35, but with better ergonomics. It's a great little camera.
I have an XA and I do use it from time when I have to cut back on taking or carrying gear. I have found it to be superb in the lens department and surprisingly the camera's meter is very good with most lighting conditions. When I'm using the XA this is the only meter I use.
The only problem I have had In 9 years is the foam light seals which have recently dissolved. However, they are easy to replace yourself and this can be expected to eventually happen on a camera of this age.
Personally I wouldn't use the XA as my only camera as I would miss the versatility of interchangeable lenses on say something like a Nikon FM2 or an OM1 - both of which are compact SLRs. But for an affordable quality carry in your pocket fixed lens rangefinder with a good on-board meter it is a hard one to beat.
I have two XA's. One that I've used for a roll or two and one that is super clean in its original case. But i have a bazillion cameras.
The XA is capable of good results. I have seen some outstanding prints from the XA and XA2.
The key, like with any camera, is to learn its personality.
And the XA does have personality.
But you are either going to love it or hate it. The rangefinder works using a lever on the bottom. it may be too small for some hands.
The lens vignettes at full aperture but less so at smaller apertures. The shutter release is very shallow and needs all most no pressure. The shutter is extremely quiet, sometimes your not sure if it fires.
If you are looking for a small fun camera that is serious enough for serious photographers, this is it.
Spend some extra money and buy one that is known good.
But if you are serious about getting into film photography, stop messing around with those compacts and get an SLR. Ask around here and I am sure someone will give you a deal on one.
+1. I trusted mine enough to run Kodachrome through it on more than a few occasions. For a number of years, I never left the house without it. Unfortunately, about four years ago, I dropped the thing and broke it. My eldest nephew, never one to pass up the opportunity to "repurpose" anything electronic, turned it into a taser...
Originally Posted by bimmey