Hawk Buckman

Olympus XA 35mm Rangefinder Camera

The Powerhouse In My Pocket

I acquired this camera as a gift while hanging out around the North Platte River when I ran into a friend who’s a wildlife enthusiast and photographer. My kind of lady! She’d seen my F8 Film Project and offered me this camera which she retrieved from her car’s glove compartment still in its original case, purchase receipts in tack, and in mint condition. It was an Olympus XA 35mm Rangefinder.

I tried to dissuade her from giving me the camera but she insisted that she wasn’t going to use it, had owned it for years without using it, and wanted me to have it so long as I promised to use it on the F8 Project. Reluctantly, I promised (if the camera worked), and we soon parted ways after a long, enjoyable discussion about wildlife, and wildlife photography, taking the camera with me.

Two weeks passed before I was able to give my attention to the camera. I was going to San Antonio, TX, and decided to take the camera with me, keeping it in my pocket for unexpected moments, testing and experimentation. I loaded the camera with Kodak T-max 400. Little did I know I had been gifted a powerhouse of a camera. It’s so light and compact that I actually forgot it was in my pocket on a number of occasions while walking around the city.

I made a few images while in Texas. Upon returning home I used the camera over the next month to document my girlfriend, and a few friends, for fun while trying to finish the roll of film so I could get it developed and see the results. Before receiving this camera I didn’t know it existed; I’d never heard of it. I’ve always focused my attention on professional equipment but honestly, this little camera should be considered a semi-professional piece of equipment, especially as a throw-down (and run!), or backup camera.

It’s a fully manual aperture priority, light, portable, stealthy camera. The lens is fast but needs to be managed for focal distance correctly, which I failed to do a few times. I was surprised, and happy, to learn that the flash unit works like a charm. This little powerhouse of a rangefinder is an amazing addition to the F8 Project. Thank you J.A.!


Images developed and scanned by:
North Coast Photographic Service
No adjustments

Olympus XA Rangefinder Camera with A16 Flash Unit. The now famous Olympus XA rangefinder was released in the 1980’s. Much less common are the XA1, XA3 and XA4. The XA3 is an XA2 with DX reading for film speed. The XA4 has a wider 28mm lens. A really cheap version was called the XA1.
error: Copyright © 1992-2022 Hawk Buckman all rights reserved.