My photography had a heavy film slant while I was in Somerset recently, although this was largely because my ‘new’ Olympus XA arrived in the post just before I left home! I’ve been intrigued by this diminutive rangefinder camera for a long while, so I was delighted when I found an example for sale at a relatively modest price. The seller described it as in full working order so I loaded up a roll of film and gave it a spin.
Ordinarily I would shoot a single roll of film with a ‘new’ old camera to check it really does work, but on this occasion I enjoyed the experience so much that I threw caution to the wind and shot two rolls! With such a tiny machine it’s hard to believe it’s a full blown rangefinder, with manual focusing and a degree of exposure control too. The focusing is done by tweaking a little lever below the lens, which travels a mere half an inch from close focus to infinity. With so little room for manoeuvre you’d expect focusing to be tricky but I soon found it very instinctive and quick too.
I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what I would photograph – I just kept my eyes open for anything which would suit the 35mm f2.8 prime lens. I pottered around several of the stations along the West Somerset Railway, and took a handful of shots while the sun was shining at Halsway Manor too.
I’m pleased to report, as you can see from these photos, the camera works like a dream. Any failures I had were down to user error – occasionally I missed focus or accidentally caught a finger in front of the lens. I’ve already loaded it up with a roll of Kodak Tri-X I found lurking in the fridge and I can see I’ll be keeping this little gem in my coat pocket at all times for a little opportunistic film photography!
9 February 2020