The Olympus XA Family

The Olympus XA

XA series of cameras were compact sorta cameras in a clam-shell case, kind of new and innovative at the time. Although this camera was supposedly replaced by the Epic Stylus mju series in 1991, the diehard XA fans really felt it was a “downgrade”. Well, that’s food for contention. It was bigger, but the ability to add on a relatively powerful flash, paired with a stupendous lens, made it a winner. OK, you had to have “bigger” pockets. But so what. The images were on par with any Zeiss or Nikon glass at the time.


"Olympus XA


Now, I’m not going to say the heft and solid feel of the camera could possibly compete with the Titanium wonders that came along a bit later. E.g., Contax T2/3, Nikon 35Ti, Leica Minilux, etc. But they were mostly 90’s cameras, and other than build, (and price), they’d be hard pressed to produce better images.

The XA2,…the Most Common XA

In 1980, the XA2 was released by Olympus. A simple version of the Olympus XA. For weekend warriors I guess. It went from a six element Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 to a four element Zuiko 35mm f/3.5. It’s shutter speed increased to 1/750 and programmed exposure. And it could focus down to 1 meter. So, as you can see, there were improvements and cost cutting measures incorporated. A conundrum. It had no DX, of course, and film ASA was limited to 25 to 800. The cool thing for ‘collectors’ is the limited number of colored ones in red, blue, white and pink! With pink being the rarest. But, like I wouldn’t buy a pink Instax camera, I wouldn’t buy a pink XA. (I would think any color other than black is for collectors alone)


"Olympus XA


The Integrated Flash

Now to the A11. But that’s not the only flash made for the Olympus XA. There was the A9M, the A11, and the A16. Oh, and let’s not forget the A1L, which was for the XA4 only. Below is a chart of the various models. Only the GN’s for the A1L are suspect, since that was suppose to be a macro camera. I guess. You just dialed in the film speed. Unfortunately, they only have 100 and 400 ISO selections. Guide Numbers are shown in the chart. These are no Nikon SB-900’s, but for a compact, the GN is high.


ModelWeightGNBatteryRecycle100 ASA400 ASA
A9M1.8oz30 ft1xAA7 sec7.5 ft14.8 ft
A1L1.4oz23 ftLithium1.5 sec6 ft10 ft
A112.3oz33 ft1xAA7 sec8.2f t16.4 ft
A163.1oz59 ft2xAA5 sec13.2 ft26.4 ft


Below is a link to the PDF Olympus manual for the original Olympus XA. A good read if you’re pondering a sturdy, proven film point and shoot. Not a Leica, but they go for a song, and the images are sharp and clear.


Oly XA Manual





This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the link to the Manual; I just picked up an XA w/A11 flash in it’s original Plastic Hardshell case. Just have to get the batteries. Thrift store find!

  2. They’re out there, and produce awesome images. Although the XA2 was probably the most popular, the XA is still my fave.

  3. I discovered the XA series in 1998 when I walked into​ a music store that also carried off & ends, including a half dozen or so of Olympus XA’s. The owner told me he was liquidating his inventory so he could concentrate on selling musical products. He said that the XA & XA-2’s were the most popular, so I bought both. I have four now, & they are a joy to use. Thanks​ for your site.

  4. We hope to be expanding soon and show a lot more talent. I’m glad you like the site. (and XA, too)

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