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10-26-2010, 06:36 PM   #1
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Olympus XA Vs Olympus XA 3

Hi guys.

I made a mistake , I wanted to make a bid on an Olympus XA rangefinder . a camera that I keep seeing great examples form.
instead I made a bid on an Olympus XA 3 which is not a rangefinder rather have some kind of zone focusing .

what do you know about this camera ? is it as good as the original XA?


Thanks!!

10-26-2010, 09:00 PM   #2
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The Olympus XA Camera

I've had an XA2 for years - my first "serious" camera. My brother recently gave me an XA for my birthday. As the site says, the XA2/3 has a slower lens and zone focusing. I haven't run a complete roll through the XA so I can't give you first-hand quality comparisons. But I will say that the focusing patch on the XA does take some getting used to, and is pretty hard to use in low light.

Great little cameras though!

Hope the link helps though...
10-27-2010, 08:15 AM   #3
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The XA (ver.1) was my main camera for a decade and a true joy to use. Informal tag: The camera that pros take on vacation. Later versions just don't compare. Mine stopped working and I just sold it for parts a couple weeks ago. Demand (and cost) is high online; I scan every thrift shop for a replacement, but no luck yet. I'll score another eventually...
10-27-2010, 12:08 PM   #4
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Thank you guys! that helps a lot!!!

10-27-2010, 06:25 PM   #5
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The XA is a cult favorite. It is capable of fine results.
But the very short-base rangefinder isn't real accurate, nor is the shutter speed indicator.
The controls are small and difficult to use. You must look at the front of camera to set the aperture.

OTOH the XA2/XA3 cameras use zone focus and Program AE, making them faster to operate than the finicky XA.
I have owned all three since introduced. Results from all are excellent, but I am more likely to carry the XA2 or XA3.
IMO either is a better pocket snapshot camera than the XA.

Chris
10-28-2010, 07:22 PM   #6
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I own the XA and don't find it fiddly at all. The aperture scale on the front is no harder to use than the aperture scale on most aperture priority AE 35mm SLRs. In use, you set the aperture you want and adjust as needed if the shutter speed is too low or there is too much light. The rangefinder baseline is short, but adjusted for viewfinder magnification, it is not any worse than other small rangefinder cameras. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and I have yet to have an out-of-focus or poorly exposed shot.

My only complaints are:
  • Unconventional control layout is a challenge at first and requires an unconventional "hold" for the camera. You focus with the thumb from either hand and adjust the aperture with the middle finger of the right hand. Certainly no worse than shooting with a Contax II or Kiev.
  • Shutter release is hair-trigger sensitive
The upshot is that it is not a Leica, but I will take an XA any day of the week over a Rollei 35. The XA is also cheaper than a Rollei in similar condition.

As for the XA 3...The lens is a significant downgrade from that in the original XA, though I suppose it takes good enough photos. I have handled the camera, but did not care for the lack of aperture control.


Steve
10-29-2010, 01:36 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The aperture scale on the front is no harder to use than the aperture scale on most aperture priority AE 35mm SLRs.
The problem is that in order to do this you must take your eye from the viewfinder and look at the front of the camera.

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
As for the XA 3...The lens is a significant downgrade from that in the original XA.
My results do not bear this out. Once I got the knack of estimating distance I got equally good results from the faster operating XA2 and XA3 cameras.

Chris
10-29-2010, 12:29 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
Once I got the knack of estimating distance I got equally good results from the faster operating XA2 and XA3 cameras.
...and taking your eye from the viewfinder in order to change the zone......works the same as the aperture control on the XA.

I still don't know what you mean by faster operating. The XA has auto exposure and the same CdS metering system. In practice the time to expose should be about the same. Set the XA at the hyperfocal (in red) and the aperture at f/5.6 (also in red) and you essentially have a P&S for most situations. You can zone focus and shoot from the hip if you like as well (there is a distance scale on the lens). The main difference is control over and knowledge of what is happening. With the program exposure, you give that up.

Don't get me wrong, I would be the last to say that the XA2 and XA3 are not good cameras. I shot with a Stylus (the auto-focus, built-in flash later model) for several years and was quite happy. I just think that it is important to consider that the XA2 and XA3 were intended as the discount alternative at a lower price point. The XA was quite expensive at the time with the other two bodies going for quite a bit less. I remember well drooling at the camera counter over the too expensive XA, but not being willing to accept half a loaf with the XA2.

As for the lens...there is a definite difference in sophistication of optics for the XA (f/2.8, 6 elements in 5 groups) vs. the other two cameras (f/3.5, 4 elements in 4 groups). How that translates in real world shooting is anybody's guess.

Either way, all the cameras in the series (except the XA1) are great fun and worth shooting with, IMHO.


Steve

10-29-2010, 04:50 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
...and taking your eye from the viewfinder in order to change the zone...
...works the same as the aperture control on the XA.
The hyperfocal position (center detent) is fine for most snapshots with the 35mm f/3.5 lens.
The camera cleverly resets the lever to this position automatically each time camera is closed.
Any tweaking desired can be done easily by feel - up for closer, down for infinity - but it's seldom critical.
So there's no need to ever take your eye from the viewfinder with the XA2/XA3 cameras.

The XA lens may be more "sophisticated" in that it has more elements, but it's not necessarily better.
I see no disernible difference in sharpness, but the lens on my XA vignettes more than my XA2 or XA3.

In my experience the fussy rangefinder and aperture controls on the XA make it a slower handling camera.
The XA2 and XA3 are far better snapshot cameras, well-suited for shooting from the hip.
Before you label the XA2/XA3 "half a loaf" suggest you try one. Sometimes less is more...

Chris

Last edited by ChrisPlatt; 10-29-2010 at 06:37 PM.
10-29-2010, 10:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
Before you label the XA2/XA3 "half a loaf" suggest you try one...

...Sometimes less is more...
I totally agree, although would add that less is only more if you need less.

I guess it might make more sense if I explained a bit what my use case is for a camera like the XA. I generally don't use mine for street photography or snapshots of Granny and the kids. I take it skiing, xc skiing, hiking, and climbing where it is used primarily for landscape work and where its compact size justifies its place in the jacket or pack. I even use it a fair amount, stopped down, on tripod (or other support) and frequently use the +1.5 exposure comp feature. I use the full aperture range and also the full focus range.

Your issue with the XA is that it is not a point and shoot. My issue with the XA2 is that it is a point and shoot. The two cameras were designed for different missions despite sharing the same platform. Both take good photos, though I would have a difficult time doing my style of photography with the XA2.

If it is any consideration, I spent a bit of time browsing articles related to comparison of the two cameras. Interestingly, the two articles with the most interest factor were on Web sites dedicated to the principles of Lomography. While there was a fair amount of technical comparison of the Olympus cameras with the Lomo LC-A models, there were also some large sections devoted to the philosophy of different photographic styles and purposes and how choice of camera might help or hinder success in traveling those paths. These two, I think, are good to share:

cameras;: Olympus XA & XA2; - from the other Martin Taylor

Lomo LC-A+ vs. Olympus XA - A Lomographic Perspective in Reviews in Magazine - Lomography

Steve
10-31-2010, 02:30 PM   #11
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IMO you'd be hard pressed to discern photos taken with an XA vs those from an XA2/XA3 in your situation.
BTW the XA3 has the aforementioned +1.5 EV backlight setting on the bottom multifunction lever.

Chris
11-01-2010, 02:49 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
...bottom multifunction lever.
One of the other functions is as a foot to stabilise the camera on a tabletop for self-portraits.

Which is just so bloody genius I want to explode.

Maitani was a camera-designing god.
11-01-2010, 06:07 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithos Quote
One of the other functions is as a foot to stabilise the camera on a tabletop for self-portraits.

Which is just so bloody genius I want to explode.

Maitani was a camera-designing god.
+1. One of the most minimally elegant cameras I've ever owned...
11-01-2010, 07:02 AM   #14
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I've never owned an XA3, but I have owned the XA and XA2 for decades. I bought my first XA2 shortly after it was released. I have taken the two of them out and shot the same scenes, and, though I can do it, I am hard-pressed to find shots where the XA2 suffered in comparison. The XA can go for 10 times the money of the XA2, which makes the XA2 the biggest bargain around. I can slip an XA2 in the pocket of my bicycle jersey and risk only about $20. When I had my last XA fly out of one of those pockets earlier in the year, there was an air of tragedy about it.

The other great equalizer now is the superb quality of ISO 400 film. If all I want is a tiny machine to take high-quality grainless snaps, my wife's digital P&S may be a better choice. However, loaded with some Fuji 400H, my XA2 was a joy to use on my trip to Spain this year, and the sharpness, color and grain of that combo, as well as the simplicity of the package, made it a tool for catching something special in street shots that I could never have done with digital and with a unique quality about it. The two extra stops over the C41 films I used in the 80s greatly reduces the differences in exposures and optimal apertures I would see back then between the XA (carefully set) and XA2. I'm not sure I will replace my XA with another.
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