The Olympus XA Goodie


We've all heard about the XA series (XA, XA1, XA2, XA3 and XA4) but nothing beats the original, the first invention that made enormous sucession: the Olympus XA.

image from Olympus

Olympus XA was created during the 1970’s, when the Japanese camera designer of Olympus, Mr. Yoshihisa Maitani created a rugged, little clam shell body-like camera. It is actually double the dose: XA is a rangefinder camera and it can fit inside your pocket!

There are several cool features about this rangefinder-slash-compact camera. You can set your ASA from 25 to 800, select your aperture from 2,8 to 22, and it is AAP (automatic aperture priority). Whatever your aperture is, the camera will identify it and your shutter speed will just follow through depending on the availability of the light that comes in your lens. Plus, this compact rangefinder camera is coupled with 6 element F.Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 lens giving your shots a crisp, creamy pictures all the way.

Using this camera, stick in two (2) SR-44 Silver Oxide cell battery found in the base of the camera. Now, you are ready to go! Depending on the available time, the XA will compensate with the aperture, and most likely your shutter speed ranges from 10 seconds to 1/500th second. It also comes with a +1.5 stop back-lighting exposure compensation switch which can be found in the bottom of the camera together with the self-timer and battery check switch.

I have some tips and tricks for this one!

1. Vignettes – this compact camera gives off vignettes when you bake it together with slide films but what about negative films? Simply adjust your ASA by lowering it 1-stop (asa50 for asa100 films and so on), the aperture to f/2,8 and you’ll get those dreamy vignettes in no time!

2. Bulb setting – the shutter speed can last up to 10 seconds but what I tried to do is place the switch found under the camera to battery check. The red light and a “beeping” sound will then be seen and heard. Place your camera in a flat surface to avoid shakes. Press the shutter, you’ll hear the first click and there you go! After enjoying a 30 second or 1-minute shot, slowly return the switch back to its place and the lens will just close (you’ll hear a second click with this one).

3. Double Exposure – we’ve all heard this before but just to recap; shoot, but do not wind. Tighten the film in the film can a bit – not too much (as if rewinding without having pressed the rewind knob). Press the rewind knob, so the film transport is disengaged now wind – hopefully without moving the film. Shoot a second time.


written by ethermoon on 2009-01-02 in #reviews


  1. zulupt
    zulupt ·

    Great review & pics, congrats!!!
    Amazing vignetting.

  2. ethermoon
    ethermoon ·

    Thanks Zulupt!

  3. slamoutwithyourclamout
    slamoutwithyourclamout ·

    At college i found an old Olympus D-ZUIKO XA2 and didn't think much of it but since reading this review i have took it home, put some batteries in it, loaded up a film and started to shoot. hope my pics come out as good as yours.
    Also how did you get the blue n red splash of colour on some of your photos or did this just happen accidentally?
    Top review n all the best.

  4. ethermoon
    ethermoon ·

    Matt, remember those extra color gels with your Colorsplash Flash? I placed them in front of the lens and took the picture. :)

  5. ethermoon
    ethermoon ·

    oh mymistake! Number 6 explains the above. blue shots are with the film elitechrome 100 :)

  6. buddhagal529
    buddhagal529 ·

    I have one of thiese classic cameras and it is great! It's wonderful using b&w film as well as color. Keep shooting!

  7. djmusician
    djmusician ·

    Thanks for a good article about one fantastic camera. I love it for the lens. It's like nothing else I've got - probably my top quality cam with the zenit 122 plus it's so compact. In my opinion the perfect choice for the XA is slide film cross-processed, but I do agree it also works wonders in black & white. Cheers!

  8. crazyunclejoe
    crazyunclejoe ·

    thanks for the tips!

  9. ojjvz
    ojjvz ·

    Awesome, cool tips, just purchased one of these in great condition with flash case booklet and strap :D

  10. everyoneismyfriend
    everyoneismyfriend ·

    Just scored the original XA with the A16 flash at a thrift store for $3! Can't wait to get out and shoot this.

  11. sandergroen
    sandergroen ·

    Unfortunately the bulb mode trick doesn't work on all XA's. Apparently there have been several variations of the same model (I'm not talking about the XA1/2/3/4 but the XA proper) and it does work on later versions but not on the first one (mine). :(

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