Olympus XA

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Olympus XA
The XA with an attached A16 flash.
Olympus XA Cameras

The Olympus XA was a series of 35 mm cameras manufactured and marketed by Olympus of Japan. The original XA was a rangefinder camera with a fast 35 mm f/2.8 lens, and aperture priority metering. It was one of the smallest rangefinder cameras ever made, together with the Contax T. Later models—XA2, XA3 and XA4—featured scale focusing instead of rangefinders.


It was designed by Yoshihisa Maitani who had joined Olympus Optical Co Ltd in 1956. He was the chief camera designer and managing director of Olympus Optical Co Ltd., having developed a number of legendary cameras during his career. These included the Pen series, the OM series, and the XA series. Before he retired, the company also released the IS series and the [mju:]/Stylus series of cameras, the designs of which were credited to others.[1][2]

Maitani started with the concept of a full-frame camera that can be carried in a pocket every day, working on basic size and shape in a series of clay models. He set a target thickness of 4 cm (1.6 in) and approached the head of the Lens Division, Yoshisada Hayamizu, who previously had designed the Tessar-type D.Zuiko lens fitted to the original Pen. Hayamizu concluded that fitting a lens with a focal length of 35 mm was not possible in a camera body that thin, and told Maitani that a 31 mm lens would be required, which unfortunately would make it "unsuitable for taking shots of people". At that point, Maitani unveiled several of his prototype clay models, explaining that he already had discarded a thickness of 4+12 cm (1.8 in): "See how much the front protrudes. There's such a strong feeling of the lens poking out, the whole style is ruined. [...] if we can't make the four centimeter mark, well, this whole camera project will end up as a failure."[3] The lens team began with a Tessar-style design, but by adopting what he later called a "reverse retrofocus" configuration, they designed a six-element, five-group lens with a focal length of 35 mm and, critically, a distance of 33.6 mm (1.32 in) from the front element to the film plane, enabling Maitani's 4 cm camera.[4]

The original model, the XA, was sold from 1979 to 1985.


  • Olympus XA: small rangefinder with aperture priority 35mm f/2.8 lens
  • Olympus XA1: simple mechanical camera with a selenium meter
  • Olympus XA2: scale focus camera, automatic shutter 35mm f/3.5 lens
  • Olympus XA3: Same as XA2 with "DX" automatic film speed recognition
  • Olympus XA4: distance focus camera, 28mm wide macro lens

The original XA's lens was protected by a sliding dust cover. Film wind is by thumb-wheel, aperture is set on the right side of the body using a small lever, focus is set by a small lever below the lens, film speed (ISO) is set on a dial below the lens, the viewfinder is optical direct-view with the rangefinder frame embedded in it and a display of the shutter speed at the side. There was also a small lever on the camera's base which when flipped out, added 1 1/2 stops exposure to the shutter speed. This could be used to counteract the effects of subject back lighting.

The XA1 used a fixed-focus lens. Although the cameras resembled each other, there were subtle differences in design. The XA3 and XA4 were slightly larger than the XA and XA2. The original XA's dust cover dome resembled a flattened oval, whereas the other models had a more rounded design. Each of these substituted focusing distance for the right-side lever for the aperture-control of the original XA. As a result these cameras were automatic program only, whereas the original XA was an aperture-priority camera.


The XA series was accompanied by a range of detachable flash units. The standard A11 took one AA battery and had a guide number of 10. The A16 took two batteries and had a guide number of 16. The A9M and A1L were smaller units for the XA1 and XA4 respectively.[5]


Olympus XA series specifications
  XA[6] XA1 [7] XA2[8] XA3[8] XA4[9]
Lens F.Zuiko f=35mm
D.Zuiko f=35mm
Zuiko f=28mm
Aperture f/2.8–22 f/4–22 f/3.5–14
Shutter 10s~1500s, leaf 130s~1250s 2s~1750s, leaf
Focusing 0.9 m (3.0 ft)–∞, rangefinder 1.5 m (4.9 ft)–∞, fixed 3-position zone/scale 0.3 m (0.98 ft)–∞, zone/scale
Exposure aperture-priority auto with +1.5 backlight compensation programmed auto programmed auto with +1.5 backlight compensation
ISO 25-800 100-400 25-800 25-1600 25-1600
Battery 2× SR44/EPX-76 none (selenium cell) 2× LR/SR44
Size 102 mm × 64.5 mm × 40 mm
4.0 in × 2.5 in × 1.6 in
104 mm × 65 mm × 40 mm
4.1 in × 2.6 in × 1.6 in
102 mm × 65 mm × 40 mm
4.0 in × 2.6 in × 1.6 in
102 mm × 64.5 mm × 38.5 mm
4.0 in × 2.5 in × 1.5 in
Weight 225 g
7.9 oz
190 g
6.7 oz
200 g
7.1 oz
220 g
7.8 oz
230 g
8.1 oz
Years 1979–1985 1982-1985 1980-1985 1985 1985


  1. ^ "The IS-1000 Development Story". VisionAge. No. 14. Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. 1990. pp. 5–9. An interview with Mitsuo Kawazoe (development team leader), Shinya Takahashi (mechanical design), Minoru Matsuzaki (electronic design), Hiroshi Takase (optical design), Kazuhiko Watarai (industrial design) and Kazuaki Takada (product planning manager)
  2. ^ "The μ[mju:]-1 Story: 'We broke all the rules ...'". VisionAge. No. 15. Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. 1991. pp. 6–8. An interview with Tatsuya Suzuki (development team leader), Yoshinori Katsuyama (industrial design leader), Akinori Mitsuse (industrial design), Kazunori Mizogami (electronic leader), Shunji Matsutani (mechanical engineering) and Akira Watanabe (electronic engineering)
  3. ^ Yanagida, Kunio; Brodie, John S. (trans.) (1988). "The Olympus XA Story (3)". VisionAge. No. 10. Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. pp. 38–40.
  4. ^ Yanagida, Kunio; Brodie, John S. (trans.) (1988). "The Olympus XA Story (4)". VisionAge. No. 11. Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. pp. 29–33.
  5. ^ The Olympus XA Camera: Flash
  6. ^ Butkus, Mike. "Olympus XA". butkus.org. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Olympus XA1". 35mm-compact.com. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  8. ^ a b Butkus, Mike. "Olympus XA2, Olympus XA3". butkus.org. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  9. ^ Butkus, Mike. "Olympus XA4". butkus.org. Retrieved 22 February 2019.

External links[edit]