I’ve been more diligent about not impulsively buying new cameras and being more intentional about what I do buy.
Earlier this year, I bought a couple of cameras to replace non-functioning cameras which were certainly intentional purchases.
Prior to that, the last camera bought, which was an impulse buy, was my Minolta X-700, which I love so no regrets there. That was in March 2020 right as the pandemic started so it’s been over a year since I bought something without a lot of forethought.
Which brings me to my most recent purchase: an Olympus XA which has been on my wish list for quite a while.
I really did give this some thought before I bought it. I’ve been wanting a small, easy to carry around film camera. My Olympus Pen-EE3 is on the small side but that’s a half-frame camera which is a rather specialized device.
I don’t remember when I had seen this, but I made a mental note that this was a camera of interest. I liked the idea of having a small camera that would be easy to carry around, but I also liked that it’s not just a simple point-and-shoot camera. It’s an aperture priority rangefinder with a built in light meter and a 35mm f/2.8 Zuiko lens.
More recently, I watched another video, this time from Analog Insights, another one of my favorite YouTube photography channels.
After watching this, I started looking into buying one. Since I this had been on my wish list for a while and since it seemed like it would fit a need, I decided to go ahead and purchase one. I bought mine from PhotoWannaHaves on Etsy. I was lucky to find one in excellent shape that came with a flash in its original box.
The first thing that struck me is how small the Olympus XA actually is. Obviously, I had seen it in the above videos, but until I had it in my hand, I could not appreciate its size. It definitely is easy to carry.
I’ve taken one roll of film with it: Kodak Gold 200. One of the reasons I chose Kodak Gold is that it has only 24 exposures. I was eager to finish a roll to see if my new camera worked.
I really enjoyed shooting with it, although there are a couple things I need to get used to.
One is that the shutter button is very sensitive. It doesn’t take much pressure at all so taking accidental pictures is definitely a possibility. The shutter button is also almost flush with the top of the camera so it’s a little hard to find by feel. The upsides are that it’s easier to hold it still while pressing the shutter and the shutter is very quiet.
Also, the throw on the focus lever is very short making it a little difficult to be precise. Some of my photos are a little out of focus because of this.
The ergonomics of the XA are excellent. Because of its small size and the smart placement of the controls, everything is in reach with your right hand while holding the camera. The focus lever is in easy reach just below the lens and the aperture control is to next to the lens. The ISO setting is between the lens and the focus lever.
Mine came with an electronic flash which unlike most cameras attaches on the side. I haven’t done any flash photography and actually have a flash for only one other camera, my Minolta X-700, which I never used. Since the flash on the Olympus XA is less cumbersome, trying out some flash photography with it seems more likely.
It also has a 1.5 stop exposure compensation switch on the underside for backlit situations. I haven’t tried that yet, but it is a unique and advanced feature for such a small camera.
I was pleased with the results. The pictures that are in focus (mainly the ones where it was easy to just set the focus at infinity) are nice and sharp. Surprisingly so for such a small camera.
I think having a small camera is going to come in handy. It will be convenient having something that I can have with me if I’m not intentionally going out to shoot but want to have a camera with me just in case.
I found the Olympus XA fun to use and was happy with the results. I’m looking forward to getting out with it again.