Olympus XA3
5 frames with...

5 Frames with an Olympus XA3 from a Car – Felix Tanjono

October 16, 2020

In the early days of the pandemic, I had the not-so original idea of doing more photography shooting through the window of a car as walking around was didn’t seem to be such a wise idea anymore. Thankfully, a couple of months back I had already purchased a near-perfect camera to use for point & shoot while in the car: the Olympus XA3.

At that time, I was just looking for a compact camera with a simple focusing system to put in the car just in case there is anything interesting happening while navigating these crazy streets.

My first choice was the original Contax T but that was somewhat notoriously hard to come by, with the T2 & T3 commanding crazy high prices, I had to look elsewhere.

I had known of the existence of Olympus XA at this time but thought that the original was too fiddly to operate in fast situations. I chanced upon the XA3 while looking through instagram, priced quite reasonably from a reputable seller. I made somewhat rudimentary research on its operation and pulled the trigger within a day – surprising even myself how easy it is to be affected by G.A.S…

The dead-simple focus tab of the XA3 makes it faster to operate then the original, most of the time I just literally point & shoot as it defaults to mid range focus whenever the clamshell is shut. A really Sharp lens & light weight completes it nicely. The lack of control (seriously rudimentary aperture control, no shutter speed control) does make me pause a bit, but putting trust in the inbuilt light meter is always part of the fun.

The only real annoyance with it is the build quality of the latch securing the back door. It opens too easily with a very short fall (car seat to the floor – thankfully not the pavement). But this is neither here nor there really, as the many pros outweigh the rather minor cons – despite the depressing feeling of losing substantial amount of pictures when this happened.

Here are the 5 frames from the XA3 – taken in these uncertain times, some in daylight, some at night with Bergger Pancro 400. You’ll not see any masks worn, as there was still conflicting news about the effectiveness of them then…

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

Thank you much for reading.

You can find me mainly posting infrequent & randomly on Instagram

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  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    October 16, 2020 at 11:33 am

    I rather like the XA series (I have an XA2).
    While it might be nice to have more control over aperture, one of the ‘freeing’ aspects of this (looking for the positives) is that, for me, I end up paying more attention to composition…

    • Reply
      Felix Tanjono
      October 16, 2020 at 2:22 pm

      Agree that the relative lack of control makes it “easier” to focus on your composition.
      Been an absolute joy to use!

      • Reply
        David Warwick
        October 16, 2020 at 7:36 pm

        I really like the shutter release, once gou get used to it, so light!

        • Reply
          Felix Tanjono
          October 17, 2020 at 3:41 am

          Light yes, but sometimes I do feel like it’s over sensitive…

  • Reply
    October 16, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Hugely overrated camera the xa’s. I had one back when they were still in production and only $89 from a Cambridge camera classified at the back of popular photography magazine. Mine crapped out right away- wouldn’t fire. But I got it used. The split screen focus patch is hard to see so any of the others xa1 to 4 are easier to use. I’ve seen countless pics taken with them and they’re fine for what they came from, a tiny fragile point and shoot. My xa sat in a drawer for 35 years dead. I sold it for $15 parts. I have a lot of film cameras. Most of them need to be serviced. No I didn’t break or let them get schmutz in the internals. They’re just old. I really wish some new ones were available. Not plastic toy lomo or 6×7 sheet billows anchors. Just make some decent 35mm slrs again! Pentax/Ricoh seems committed to apsc dslrs. Maybe they could reissue a km or Mx! Probably not. Sad

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