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.
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)
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.
|Model||Weight||GN||Battery||Recycle||100 ASA||400 ASA|
|A9M||1.8oz||30 ft||1xAA||7 sec||7.5 ft||14.8 ft|
|A1L||1.4oz||23 ft||Lithium||1.5 sec||6 ft||10 ft|
|A11||2.3oz||33 ft||1xAA||7 sec||8.2f t||16.4 ft|
|A16||3.1oz||59 ft||2xAA||5 sec||13.2 ft||26.4 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.