PHOTOGRAPHY   © mike connealy
Olympus XA
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Olympus XA, 1979-85

Size comparison: Contax-copy Kiev IIa and Olympus XA
The user manual for the XA is available on line through the excellent site.

XA Test Report (Modern Photography, November 1979)
The Olympus XA, introduced in 1979, was the last significant step in the evolution of the 35mm rangefinder camera. The designer, Yoshihisa Maitani, combined all the available cutting-edge technology of the time -- including light-weight synthetic materials, miniturized electronic circuits for exposure automation, and revolutionary lens design -- to produce a full-frame, full-featured rangefinder camera that could be slipped comfortably into a shirt pocket.

The main competition in compact camera design at the time came from two European camera makers, Rollei and Minox. While they were excellent performers, neither the Rollei 35 nor the Minox 35 had rangefinder focusing, and both relied on extendable lens mounts using traditional Tessar-formula lenses.

A key feature in producing the compactness of the Maitani camera was its revolutionary six-element lens with focusing being accomplished by the movement of a central lens element. This unusual configuration produced a high-quality 35mm focal-length lens that hugged the camera body with no need to be extended for use.

The above lens design diagram is taken from the XA Repair Manual, which is available on line at the site. The many exploded drawings in the manual illustrate the amazing design sophistication of the little Maitani camera, while also revealing the fact that the XA is a poor candidate for DIY repair.

    Below are some images from my first roll through the Olympus XA ...
    ... and some XA color

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