5 frames with...

5 Frames with My Thrift Store Olympus XA – by Tiffany Perez

April 16, 2019

Hello everyone! My name is Tiffany Perez and this is my first post to this site! I am so excited. I am from Southern California, born and raised. This past year has been an adventure for me. I took a hiatus from photography and I have recently gotten back into it.

The Gear

For my return to film, I wanted to use the camera that I lucked out to find in the thrift store: the Olympus XA. This $5 thrift store find has changed my life. A full frame camera all in a little package. The lens is so sharp and the camera itself is so easy to use.

The Method

I use this camera for what I call “drive-by film shooting.” Since the camera is aperture priority, I set it to the smallest aperture I can, infinity focus, and just go taking pictures all from the comfort of my car.

Working in California, most of my time is spent in my car. Driving to and from work is a big chunk of my day other than my 9-5. So the only way I could get time to shoot was to do it while in my car. (This is done safely. Only at a stop. Not while the car is in motion. Safety first.) If I see something interesting on the street or if I drive by an interesting structure, I try to pull over and take a picture. This has taught me to not be in such a bubble on my commute.

I find a rangefinder like the XA to be best for this approach. Since the rangefinder patch is small, I zone focus the camera ahead of time to have it ready for when I need to take a quick shot. The XA is so small, too, that I can operate it with one hand. These are pictures from my most recent roll of Fuji Superia.

Shots Fired

Sunset Shot

Light Leak Trees

Drive-By Factory

Friendship Sunset

Shopping On The Street

Let me know what you think about my first submission to the site! To see my individual posts and commentary for these photos, visit my Instagram.

My Instagram: www.instagram.com/tjpiks

Tiffany Perez
The Drive-By Film Shooter

Want to learn more about this camera? Take a look at this review by jacint. This is post really gives you an idea of what it is like to shoot this camera.

Contribute to 35mmc for an Ad-Free Experience

There are two ways to experience 35mmc without the adverts:

Paid Subscription - £2.99 per month and you’ll never see an advert again! (Free 3-day trial)
Subscribe here

Content contributor - become a part of the world’s biggest film and alternative photography community blog. All our Contributors have an ad-free experience for life.
Sign up here.


  • Reply
    Wim HH van Heugten
    April 16, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Seems that you have a light leak in the camera. Better check the light seals and the hinges of the back of this wonderful camera.

    • Reply
      April 16, 2019 at 7:03 pm

      Hello there. Yes, I am planning on getting them replaced after I play with them a bit more. Gonna keep this beauty maintained for the years to come. Thanks for the read!

  • Reply
    Michael Kay
    April 16, 2019 at 10:39 am

    You’ve got a light leak there – new light seals needed!!

    • Reply
      April 16, 2019 at 7:02 pm

      Hello Michael. Yes, I plan on replacing them but for now, I am playing with them and their pleasant surprises it brings to my photos.

  • Reply
    Graham Coad
    April 16, 2019 at 11:41 am

    Looks like you have some light leakage (orange patches on your images) Many XA cameras have that and need their light seals replaced. It can be done by the owner (research online) but here in the UK I sent my current XA off to an Olympus specialist for a full service, cost around £80 ($105) -this was well worth it for a quality camera at least 40 years old!

    • Reply
      April 16, 2019 at 7:01 pm

      Hello Graham. Yes I do have some light leaks. I actually liked them on these frames. I am planning on replacing them soon. Right now I am seeing what fun and surprises I can get with them. Thanks for the read! Cheers!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Tiff,
    I love my XA, this is such a great Pocket-size camera to take away with you everytime you go out.
    The light leaks (I presume) on your model, give a nice rendition, specially on the second picture (one with the trees) and I admit that sometimes it gives you nice “flares” or “color bursting modifications”. But after all, in my opinion and in the end, you can’t control them on every frame and, more important, at some point it will completly veil your negatives. I recommend you to change by your own the seals (it’s pretty easy and gives you the impression of doing something pretty cool for your everyday camera) and the coming pictures surely will be delights due to this magnificent lens.
    Cheers from France

    • Reply
      April 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm

      Yeah, I replaced the light seals when I first got the camera but that was a few years back. Planning on replacing them soon. Thanks for the read! Cheers!

  • Reply
    John Smith
    April 16, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    I like the fact that it’s warm Californian light leaking in here. For me it adds to the sense of place. And another inspiring idea – “drive-by” style. This really is the coolest site.

    • Reply
      April 16, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks for the read and for the compliment!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Yes, it is an amazing little machine. Excellent image quality, and a package small enough to carry with you everywhere!
    I like your approach to commuting; must make it so much more bearable. And great IG posts!

    • Reply
      April 16, 2019 at 6:57 pm

      Oh yes…definitely makes the commute more bearable haha. Thanks for checking out my IG!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    California has such amazing opportunities for photography doesn’t it! Congratulations on that thrift store find. The stores up north have zero cameras. At least I’ve not found anything at all.

    • Reply
      April 16, 2019 at 6:57 pm

      It honestly was a great find. I hear that there are some nice thrift stores in Sacramento that have good cameras. Just have to go hunting. I go about once a month if I have time.

  • Reply
    William Parker
    April 17, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Very impressive Images, so much pleasure from a thrift store purchase, excellent and good to hear how much you are enjoying it.

  • Reply
    Pete Berry
    April 17, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    Hi Tiffany,
    Thanks for the inspiration. I, too am returning to film after being away for a while.
    I keep two point and shoot 35mm cameras in my van with me. On.e colour film, one back and white film. I hope to utilize your method of capturing images because I am in my vehicle for several hours a day.

    Thanks, once again. Awesome photos.

    – Pete in Canada

    • Reply
      April 18, 2019 at 6:05 am

      Thanks for your kind words, Pete! I have multiple cameras on me these days so that I don’t have to switch my lenses. One point and shoot (XA), an SLR (Nikon F3) and a half frame for when I am feeling adventurous. I would like to see your work if you have it posted anywhere. Cheers!

  • Reply
    Chris Pattison
    April 20, 2019 at 10:05 am

    I really like the trolley shot. Your $5 XA is an absolute bargain!

    • Reply
      April 23, 2019 at 3:47 am

      Thanks Chris! Truth be told I had to think for a second as to what you meant by trolley haha

Leave a Reply

This site uses User Verification plugin to reduce spam. See how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contribute to 35mmc for an Ad-Free Experience -Click here to find out more