I have dozens of cameras and lenses to choose from whenever I travel. But the one camera that is almost always in a pocket is an Olympus XA.

I have three of the XA and a couple of the XA2, but the XA always fills the niche better.

I keep it loaded with 800-speed film to avoid needing the barely adequate, attaching flash, which kind of defeats the rationale for a small camera since it makes it almost unpocketable. The XA and fast film are wonderful for night shots in Vegas or in museums where flash is not allowed.

The silver button cells last for years and, other than a foam job every couple decades or so, no other service has ever been required.

The closest thing to the XA in a point-and-shoot would be the Olympus Stylus Epic. It has very precise AF, a splendid lens and spot metering, probably tracing its pedigree back to the XA.

Of course, the XA offers control over aperture and depth of field or speed which puts it ahead of the P&S pack for shooters who prefer some more involvement in the picture-making process.

Also, the metal clamshell case makes it extremely hard to damage anything on the XA.

Lastly, the almost-silent shutter makes it handy for from-the-hip, surreptitious pictures when you set a hyperfocal distance on it.

Ken Rosenbaum