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Olympus XA - 1979
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• Ultra-compact full-frame 35mm rangefinder clamshell camera

• $200 in 1979 ($601 in 2010 dollars)

Yoshihisa Maitani, designer of the Pen, Pen F, and OM-1 (all in this app), designed the ultimate compact full-frame 35mm camera, the Olympus XA. Unlike earlier small 35s, such as the Rollei 35 and the Minox 35 (both in this app), the XA had a rangefinder.

Because of its clamshell design, its collapsed size was the same as its shooting size.

A year or so later, Olympus introduced the XA2, a much cheaper version of the XA, but with a slower lens and no rangefinder. The XA's rangefinder works OK, but it's limited by its very small base length. It's no wonder that the XA2 was such a hit.

My XA seems to be in perfect working order, as illustrated by the photos below, taken in August 2011.

Olympus XAOlympus XAOlympus XAOlympus XA
Olympus XAOlympus XAOlympus A11 flashOlympus XA with flash mounted (with setscrew) -- Note that self-timer lever acts as stand.
Olympus XA kitOlympus XA and XA2 -- Note XA's aperture lever where XA2 has focusing scale; XA's focusing lever at bottom; XA's rangefinder; XA's f2.8 lens vs. XA2's f3.5Article from Popular Science, Dec. 1979Article from Popular Science, Feb. 1980
Article from Popular Science, Feb. 1980Ad from Modern Photography, Jan. 1980Ad from Modern Photography, Nov. 1982Boulder Creek (taken with Olympus XA on Kodak Gold 200)
Watercraft on 15th St., Boulder, Colorado (taken with Olympus XA on Kodak Gold 200)

©2011-14 Marc Rochkind. All rights reserved.