A few weeks ago, I bought an Olympux XA1 camera on eBay for the princely sum of £12.50, including postage. I’d read good things about the Olympus XA but at that point hadn’t quite realised the difference between the various models. It turns out the original XA is the one to have, as it’s a full rangefinder with a 35mm f2.8 lens. It’s become very popular in recent years and prices have shot up. As a result, it’s quite easy to spend over £100 on a model in good working order.
My little XA1, by comparison, is a much humbler model, with a fixed focus f4 lens. It has a selenium cell for metering (like the Olympus Trip 35), which doesn’t need a battery, and has absolutely no creative controls other than how your compose your pictures. Realising my error, I figured I may as well run a roll of film through it, if only to check whether it works before selling it again. I finished off a cheap roll of Kentmere ISO 400 monochrome film last week, sent it off for developing and held my breath….
When the negatives arrived in the post, I was delighted to find they contained some pictures – at least that meant the meter and shutter both work! Having digitised them, they hold up quite well to closer inspection. Subjects closer than 1.5 metres are out of the question, but thankfully I only tried close ups in three frames. Aside from that, with careful composition it’s possible to take some interesting pictures.
The camera itself is very small and light (lots of plastic in its construction) and so simple to use – a literal point and shoot camera. It’s so compact (not to mention cheap) that I feel inclined to load a roll of film and keep it in my coat pocket for spontaneous use whenever the mood takes me. One thing’s for sure – it’s not going back on eBay yet!
1 April 2019