Friday, February 26, 2010

Olympus XA 35mm pocket camera

How do you like that? I took a macro photo with flash and had that lovely little reflection where it says 'OLYMPUS' with a ghost image. Dunno how it happened.

I bought this XA on Ebay a few days ago. The seller, furniturefire, said it had a stuck f-stop lever and that he didn't check it out other than that. He wanted $15 for it and $6 for shipping. I've always liked the XA, and since I'm trying to learn more about cameras, this was an excellent opportunity to learn.

I received an email saying the camera had been shipped. Shortly afterward, another arrived telling me that my money had been refunded! I contacted Dylan (furniturefire) about it. He replied that when he was boxing the camera, he realized there was a name inscribed on the back, and since the camera wasn't precisely as he'd described it, he couldn't take my money in good conscience.

He's a man of honesty and integrity. I really like that.

The camera arrived this afternoon. I think he took packaging lessons from my late mother-in-law. Her mission was to see that the good people at 3M worked lots of overtime and she did so by using their packing tape in large quantities. I couldn't help but smile, remembering her as I opened this box. Dylan filled it with styrofoam peanuts and he placed the camera in bubble wrap. Inside the bubble wrap was a layer of paper. Inside the paper, a plastic bag contained the XA. Each layer had its own tape holding it closed. Marvelous! Mom would have been proud of him.

The camera shows the usual problems for one of this vintage. The seals need to be replaced. The rangefinder needs to be cleaned. And that f-stop lever is definitely stuck. Fortunately, I have the Olympus XA maintenance manual and I'm hoping it's a straightforward job. I scrounged a couple of batteries too, finding that the meter, exposure system, and shutter release work. This camera uses an electromagnetic shutter release, so absent a battery, the camera is inoperable.

As for the name inscribed on the camera back, some judicious sanding and a coat of aircraft flat black should take care of it.

I'm looking forward to this project, though there's another camera in the queue ahead of it. I'm replacing the seals in a Canon AE-1 Program for a friend. It needs a bit of lubrication too, but that's a job for a shop with far more experience than me.



Blogger Steve A said...

So, what observations does SWMBO make about the growing collection of obsolete cameras?

At least mine are mostly discretely hidden from sight and not paraded on a blog...

11:21 PM  
Blogger PM Summer said...

Love the XA. Pretty much love anything Olympus makes (older the better, duh).

Read where the XA's designer passed away last year (he also designed my beloved Pen FTs and OM-1s). Brilliant fellow.

3:29 PM  
Blogger PM Summer said...

3:40 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I like Olympus cameras too, maybe because they have an almost jewel-like precision. And you may hate me for this, but I picked up an OM-1 for $5 last summer at our local Goodwill store. It needed seals, but other than that it worked perfectly. My daughter is using it now.

There's method to my madness. I want a camera that I can carry in cargo shorts this summer. I love the contrast and speed of the Yashica Electro GT and the Canon Canonet, but the XA is far more discrete.

I once offered Steve a Yashica ME and he declined. Since then, I've put new seals in it, cleaned the viewfinder, and fixed the frame counter. These cheap little fixed lens cameras are perfect for canoeing or commuting. If you drop them or smash them, it's not a big loss. For that matter, a disposable would do the job too, but I just hate wasting things.

3:50 PM  

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