Olympus XA

This is an amazing little 35mm point-and-shoot rangefinder. It has a 35mm f/2.8 lens that can close to f/22. The f/stop is set manually and the exposure is calculated using aperture priority. ISO can be set from 25 to 800. Shutter speeds span from 1/500 to 10 seconds. There is a self-timer option. Focusing uses a split-image rangefinder and can focus as close as 2.8 feet. There is a +1.5 EV option for backlit exposures. The A11 flash attachment uses autoexposure based on focus distance (when flash is set to appropriate ISO). When using the flash on auto the camera defaults to a 1/30 @ f/4 exposure. The A11 flash uses a single AA battery and screws directly into the side of the camera. The XA itself uses two SR44 / S76 silver oxide button batteries.

The f/5.6 aperture and 8′ focus mark are in red to optimize point-and-shoot-ability. I usually keep it on these settings. The body is pretty heavy duty (I’ve dropped mine at least twice without much damage– the little tab for the shutter button fell off but I glued it back on, and the back popped open) but still weighs only a half pound. For the price you can find these at (anywhere from $50 to $100) I would say its the best point-and-shoot on the market (not “on the market” per se, they stopped producing them in 1985).

Pros: pretty compact (fits in pocket, but barely– 4″ x 2.5″ x 1.5″ — its pretty much like putting four iPhones in your pocket at once)(the A11 flash adds another 1.5″ to length), shutter up to 10 seconds

Cons: rangefinder image is almost invisible in dim light.


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