I picked up film photography March of 2018 when I found my dad’s old Pentax K1000 tucked away in the depths of my parents’ house. I bought some film, started shooting, and immediately loved it. It was a challenge, another hobby (I also roast coffee), and a new way to create and experience beauty.
That being said, I didn’t particularly enjoy lugging around my workhorse (the K1000) everywhere I go e.g. class, a casual walk around Charleston, etc. I realized that I needed to find something compact. I did some reading on forums and came across the Olympus XA2. It fit all of my criteria for: portability, ease of use, black.
A few weeks later, I was at a photo lab dropping off some film and I spotted an Olympus XA (not an XA2, but hey beggars can’t be choosers) in the display case. I asked the owner about it, and he said that all cameras in the case had been give to him and may not work. I took a chance and bought it for $10. I had my friend who has spent 29 years fixing cameras check it out, and we found that it works perfectly. Game time.
Let’s move on to the camera.
Like I said before, this camera boasts its small size and resulting portability. In order to even look through the viewfinder, you have to slide open the clamshell. This is nice because it ensures that you never take a shot with the lens covered. On the bottom of the camera is a battery check switch, self timer, and +1.5 stop setting (helpful when the light meter can get fooled on the beach, in snow, and other bright background situations). The lens is a f/2.8 Zuiko. The camera is easy to shoot: just set the aperture and focus. Alternatively, street shooting is made easy by just setting the focus at 3m and aperture at f/5.6. It is also almost inaudible, especially compared to my K1000, again aiding with street shooting. The shutter release is a light touch which helps to reduce camera shake.
After shooting a couple rolls, I noticed that the edges of the photos are darker which makes for a nice vignette effect. That alone undeniably makes for a great effect for certain situations. I took it to the North Carolina State fair with some Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 and was not disappointed with the resulting five frames.
Note: the following are unedited- just scanned in on my university’s scanner.
Shameless plugs- Instagram: @bentaxk1000, @backroomroaster
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3 thoughts on “5 Frames with an Olympus XA Rangefinder – by Forrest Rogers”
Great little camera. Love mine. A recent find in an antique shop. Enjoy!
The (original) XA is a great camera!! I would say that if you were, as you suggest, a beggar and not a chooser in acquiring it, fate steered you to the model that will allow you to do more over time than the one you originally set your sights on. And for only $10!
I love these.
“This is nice because it ensures that you never take a shot with the lens covered”
This is nice because you never pocket it with the lens uncovered.