Olympus XA – The start of something special

Ilford Delta 400

The South African Rand has, over the past few years, taken a headfirst nosedive against the US Dollar. Apart from the obvious economic ramifications that this has for our country, it has had another serious effect on me – the slow growth of my film camera collection. eBay browsing for bargain film cameras is an activity that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to.

Because the Olympus XA series of point-and-shoots have been popping up on my feeds for a few months I pointed Chrome back to eBay for a little long-overdue browse. For $110 how could I not buy one!

The reason I got the XA over the later XA2 or XA3 is that the XA has a rangefinder-type focussing system as opposed to the zone-focussing of the later models. I already own a Lomo LC-A and its zone-focussing doesn’t grab me as the best suited to my style. And by “style” I mean always close and always wide open.

The only issue with the example that I purchased was a significant light leak at the door hinge. It fogged all my shots right down the middle of each frame. An easy remedy using a sliver of strategically placed self-adhesive craft foam.


  • Its tiny!
  • The lens is fast (f/2.8) for its diminutive size.
  • The rangefinder-style focussing works well.
  • The clamshell cover makes it great to toss into a bag without worrying about damaging the lens.


  • I prefer a 50mm focal length and this is a 35mm lens, so slightly wider than I’d like.
  • The electronic shutter button is a bit too sensitive for my taste. I’ve wasted a few frames because of it.
  • It’s a bit difficult to see the shutter speeds in the viewfinder.

This gallery is from the first 2 rolls I shot with the camera. Note the light leak…

This gallery is from the next roll with the light leak plugged:

This is a great little camera. Its unassuming and has great optics. This will be with me wherever I go from now on.