Ode to the Olympus XA

The Olympus XA is a classic. It is a marvel of minimalist design and, short of a flash sync port or hot shoe, is equipped with everything you need for a day of shooting. Keep in mind that the XA is a 35mm camera first introduced in 1979; that context is necessary for those (more digitally-minded photographers) who might be tempted to point out all the features the camera lacks, despite my proclamation that the XA has it all. “Everything” is a relative term here. It’s got an excellent 35mm f/2.8 lens, a very accurate CdS exposure meter, a tiny but useable rangefinder patch, selectable aperture from f/2.8 to f/22, selectable film speed from ASA 25 to 800, +1.5 exposure compensation, a barely audible leaf shutter (up to 1/500 sec.), and a self-timer…all packed into a body smaller than the Fujifilm X-70 that I so adore. If you’re a film shooter, I see no reason why you wouldn’t want to have this camera with you everywhere you go. It’s that good and that portable. Honestly, it’s been far too long since I took my XA out with me – something I don’t have a good excuse for. But I intend on changing that. The most recent roll of film I put through the XA was a decades old roll of Fuji Neopan 400, pushed to 800. Common wisdom says to overexposed expired film, but sometimes common wisdom is boring. 


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