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, the XA series, the IS series and the [mju:] series of cameras.
The original model, the XA, was sold from 1979 to 1985. The original XA features true rangefinder focusing, a fast 35mm f/2.8 lens, and aperture priority metering. The lens was protected by a sliding dust cover. Film wind is by thumb-wheel, aperture is set on 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. Later cameras, models XA2 to XA4, featured scale focusing instead of rangefinders. 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.
- 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 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.
- Lens: 6 elements 5 groups F.Zuiko 35mm
- Aperture: f/2.8–f/22
- Shutter: 10s~1/500s leaf shutter
- Focusing: 0.9m to infinity rangefinder
- Exposure: aperture-priority metering with +1.5 exposure compensation for backlighting
- Battery: 2 LR/SR44
- Size: 102×64.5×40mm
- Weight: 225g
- Year: 1979–1985
- Diaxa website - gives model details and opinions
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