Olympus XA-4 is X-Cellent!


The Olympus XA-4, last but certainly not least in the XA family of cameras, is an all-around fantastic point-and-shoot camera with macro capabilities. How about them apples? Okay, I know it’s a cheesy title but it’s the damn truth!! I thought I loved my Olympus XA-2? Ha – I didn’t know what love was!! Let me explain in a round-a-bout sort of way.

My husband and I ran our first 5K race in September – a monumental occasion for a self-professed hater of running. Of course, I had to photograph the event but it was rainy and nasty. I didn’t want to bring a precious little digital camera with me that might get its panties in a bunch and decide to stop working because of a little precipitation, so I brought my Olympus XA-2. I needed something with reliable results and, preferably, a flash since the weather was a bit dreary.

Image from John Nutall from Wikimedia Commons

I’m happy to say we ran the entire race and finished without dying. Since this race was sponsored by our fantastic local brewery, Dogfish Head, we all got free food and beer at the end. It was great. I was happily documenting the day and was looking forward to getting the film developed.

Then, disaster struck as I attempted to rewind my film. It was really hard to do, I mean really hard. The film must’ve gotten damp from the weather and began sticking to itself because I ended up breaking the film rewind knob clean off the camera. I was distraught. I really loved this camera. I searched eBay for extra parts and got them but not before hitting pay dirt in my favorite local thrift shop.

I went in to poke around and what did I find? An Olympus XA-4 for a mere DOLLAR! Let me say it again… for A DOLLAR! I felt like I was stealing the thing as I handed over my little bill and skipped out of the store.

What makes the XA-4 so special, you ask? Well, my friend, it has MACRO capabilities. You can get as close to your subject as a foot. Not only that, but instead of the usual 3 zone focusing, there are 7 zones that range from one foot to infinity. The lens is different; a 28/3.5 five-element lens instead of the XA’s 35/2.8. That lovely A11 flash unit that I got with my XA-2? Totally compatible with the XA-4. Brilliant (pun intended)! It is the most flexible point-and-shoot film camera I own. It’s wonderful to be able to get close to objects without holding a crazy diopter up to the lens.

According to the site cameraquest.com, the XA-4 was made in 1985 and for only a year at that, making it pretty difficult to find (and making my thrift store find that much sweeter). It’s one of the first cameras to use DX film coding and has programmed exposure times from 2 seconds at f/3.5 to 1/750th of a second at f/14. You’ll even be warned by a little light if your shutter speed is below 1/30th so that you can set up a tripod or use flash.

If you’re a fan of the LC-A, or the XA family of cameras you’ll love the XA-4. You’ll want to marry it and have its babies. So get to looking! Maybe you’ll score big as I did. Good luck!

This article was written by Community member ipdegirl.

written by ipdegirl on 2010-01-08 #gear #film #macro #review #analogue #lc-a #camera #photography #olympus #ipdegirl #olympus-xa2 #point-and-shoot #lo-fi #comparison #jenni #olympus-xa4 #lo #fi


  1. moochie_lomo
    moochie_lomo ·

    Excellent review! I have an XA and it's awesome! The XA4 looks very cool - I love that you can get as close as 1 foot. The lens in the XA series takes such clear shots. Excellent gallery, too. You get my vote!

  2. stouf
    stouf ·

    Waaaaa !!! The shots are insanely sharp !!! Excellent review for a surprising little cam !

  3. dazb
    dazb ·

    A dollar?! You are so lucky!

    I want one of these so much, they look awesome!

  4. stijn_b
    stijn_b ·

    The shots look tack sharp and I see you can go up to ISO 1600! Nice review!

  5. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    Fan-tas-tic! excellent gallery and a must have camera! Oh no!! I have a GAS attack now!

  6. dogma
    dogma ·

    What a fantastic camera and such a great pictures! I'm impressed

  7. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Soooo sharp pictures!! And sometimes so close! Oh yes, that's a camera to have..... @superlighter: GAS attack is coming for me too.... oh no, I must not go on ebay looking for new cams.... aarrrghhh!! ;)))

  8. torium
    torium ·

    I have been desiring that camera for a long time now. Maybe someday I will find one as cheap as yours! Great review!

  9. ipdegirl
    ipdegirl ·

    thanks all for checking out my review. i was SUPER lucky to find this guy for a dollar but knowing what i'd know now, i'd pay a lot more for it.

  10. jeromy-d
    jeromy-d ·

    Great shots! Been trying to pick one of the XA's up for a while now, but haven't been lucky enough. One of these days...!

  11. nural
    nural ·

    Your shots are so much in focus, amazing!! and wonderful review!!!!

  12. paramir
    paramir ·

    great review, and beautiful gallery! well deserved CROTW!! congratulations.

  13. cinzinc
    cinzinc ·

    i cant blve those pictures came from this camera. i think i should get this.

  14. fancholland2
    fancholland2 ·

    Super gallery and nice story!

  15. myvitaminx
    myvitaminx ·

    nice pics mate!well done!

  16. stropke
    stropke ·

    Such lovely photos !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. renenob
    renenob ·

    1 dollar!!!!???? Some have all the luck! haha!

  18. evil_mastermind
    evil_mastermind ·

    Nice write up! I've been going around with a similar thrift shop score XA-4, it's a great, tough little camera that takes plenty of great shots. Here's a tip: If you can find an old Cokin filter rig you can do all sorts of crazy things. I think my favorite is the polarizer filter.

  19. ipdegirl
    ipdegirl ·

    Ohhh....good idea, evil_mastermind! I'm going to try that. I have the set of filters in every color of the rainbow. Thanks for the tip!! Glad to hear you scored with your XA-4, too.

  20. jeyku
    jeyku ·

    great picks and a great find - i'm on the hunt for an xa4 now...

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