5 frames with...

5 Frames with the Olympus XA3 – By Martin Holmann

September 5, 2019

Ever since my brother gave me my first camera, a Canon A-1 for all of those wondering, I’ve fallen in love with film photography. At first, I shot exclusively on SLR’s, such as the aforementioned Canon A-1. I didn’t really feel the need to try other cameras, let alone carry a second one around with me.

As I went to Shanghai for an exchange semester, I quickly notice everyday scenes that grabbed my attention, but I rarely had my trusty SLR with me. I suddenly needed a small, pocket-able and fast shooting camera to carry with me everywhere.

After reading everything I could about compact cameras I found an Olympus XA3 in pretty good shape. I originally set out to find an XA, but since I don’t speak mandarin and I wanted to get a camera as fast as possible I settled for what I could find.

The Olympus XA3 is a tiny black brick. The only pops of color come from the white Olympus logo and the orange shutter button.  It doesn’t get more discrete than this. The shutter is electronically controlled and very quiet. Add a super shallow shutter button and you get a camera feels faster than it really is. Even the film advance wheel helps it pass unnoticed. I took countless street shots, nobody even noticed and when they did, they assumed that I was using a toy camera.

After I got my first film back, I was blown away by the sharpness of the lens. Granted a 35mm focal length with a max aperture of 3.5 doesn’t sound sexy, but this lens is very sharp and renders images in a lovely way.

It took me a while to get used to the zone focusing system, but after trying different speed film, I settled on 400 and 800 ISO  film for maximum depth of field and high shutter speeds, which ensured I could pull the camera out my pocket and take the shot as fast as possible without having to worry about blurry images.

I love this little camera. It the perfect take everywhere camera. Sure, it’s not the most technical and doesn’t have the best optics, but it’s perfect for those everyday moments worth capturing.

If you liked my quick thoughts on the XA3, feel free read the full review of the XA3, visit my blog and check my work on instragram at analog_photography_club

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  • Reply
    September 5, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    queste “macchinette”, francamente, non mi fanno ne caldo ne freddo, non mi coinvolgono per niente nella ripresa!! chiedo venia, ciao a Tutti.

    • Reply
      September 5, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      Sorry to hear that. The camera itself isn’t particularly remarkable, but the user experience is hard to fault. you should really give it a try.

  • Reply
    September 5, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    I feel the exact same way about my XA2! Such a tiny gem.

  • Reply
    Dan James
    September 5, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Martin, I think this was the ideal camera for these shots and captures the spontaneity of the scenes in a way that a more sophisticated and complicated camera probably wouldn’t have done. I especially like the shot with the blurred rail up the centre and the lady glancing back top right. And the couple portrait is that ideal balance of sharpness and timeless character.

    • Reply
      September 5, 2019 at 1:57 pm

      Thanks, Dan. I couldn’t agree more. It’s a camera made for street photography.

  • Reply
    Louis A. Sousa
    September 5, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Fantastic. What a series of cameras the XA is!

    • Reply
      September 6, 2019 at 3:28 pm

      The wonderful genius of Yoshihisa Maitani. 🙂

      • Reply
        September 6, 2019 at 4:11 pm

        He really pushed camera design to new heights.

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