Tag Archives: Olympus Xa

My Favorite Faves: Olympus XA

I’ve owed this little camera a blog post dedicated to it for quite some time now. It’s not exactly an unsung hero of my camera collection, just one which hasn’t always seen as much use as it should have in recent years.

About the Olympus XA…

It’s super rad!

  • It’s a compact 35mm camera, but with a twist: it’s actually a rangefinder*! I believe it’s the only compact camera of its kind.
  • Aperture priority operation: User sets aperture, camera sets shutter speed (which is shown in the viewfinder.)
  • Maximum aperture of f/2.8 (woo hoo!!)
  • Shutter speed range of 1/500 second – 10 seconds (<—-that’s major!)
  • Leaf shutter, which means it’s SUPER quiet when you take a photo
  • “Clamshell” design: Sliding door that protects the lens and works as the on/off switch for the camera

  • Lever on the bottom of the camera that swivels to positions for checking the battery, self-timer, and +1.5 exposure compensation

  • Threaded tripod socket
  • Proprietary flash mount/flash

I got my first Olympus XA in 2004. If I could go back in time, I’d tell my younger self to save high resolution scans of my film photos. I only have small scans of most of the photos from those early days with the XA! But I will share a few of them with you anyway (and may go back and add more when I find prints to scan…)

My niece and my brother, 2004 (first roll with my XA!)

Avellino’s, 2004

 Downtown Memphis, 2004

Graffiti in Memphis, 2004

My niece enjoying refreshment, 2004

My friend Alex, showing off a new tattoo, 2004 (cross-processed)

Michelle, showing off her Smashing Pumpkins tattoo, 2004 (cross-processed)
(Hilarious to me that my niece is standing in the background of this picture…)

My friend Jason, 2004 (cross-processed)

My niece with my beta tester version of the Lomography Okotmat camera, 2004 (cross-processed)

For me (and for many reasons) this is the  most perfect cross-processed photo I have ever taken, 2004

My friend Lydia, swinging my niece around and around, 2004 (cross-processed)

I did occasionally take the XA with me to see bands play – The Kick, 2004

My niece in some sparkly dress-up shoes, 2004

The first time we took my niece to the movies. It was Polar Express. 2004

My mom, brother, and niece on Mother’s Day 2005

River Records, Memphis, 2005

Ed’s Camera Shop, 2005 (I wish this place still existed 🙁 )

Saigon Le, 2005

Pie in the Sky table, Memphs, 2005

Memphis, 2005

Book table at flea market, 2005

Home Grown Produce, 2005

“Lone,” Midtown Memphis, 2005

Midtown Memphis, 2005 (Hi there!)

Propane tanks, 2005

Downtown Memphis, 2005

Carnival games at Redbirds Stadium (AutoZone Park), 2005

Redbirds Game, 2005

I used the camera so much in the early days that my friend nicknamed me “XA-manda”!

I lost my first XA in 2006. Mostly because I tend to use the XA for a light meter when I’m using a meterless camera. That’s what I was doing the day I lost XA #1. The worst part about losing the camera is that it still had film in it! I ended up buying  a replacement for the lost camera that same year, which I held on to until 2012. XA #2 even went to London with me in 2006!

Red lantern, 2006

My niece’s 5th birthday, 2006

Letter slot, Birmingham UK,  2006

Shoes on sale, London 2006

Oxfam event outside the National Gallery, London 2006

Westminster Abbey – London 2006

Tower of London, 2006

Tower of London, 2006

Ah, look it’s me AND the Olympus XA – London 2006

Memphis Central Library, 2007

“The Local,” 2007

Food Not Bombs,  2007

Cosmic Bowling at Bill Hardwick’s All Star Lanes, 2008

Cris, my friend Daniel’s pug, 2008

(The above three, I kind of forced the camera to do slow sync flash, which is flash plus a long exposure)

An Olympus XA skeptic, 2008


Kelsey, 2009

Mom in my Memphis apartment, 2009

“Sputnik” Memphis, 2009

Water gun fight with my niece, 2009

The Orpheum Theatre, 2011

November 2011

Kat Gordon, Owner of Muddy’s Bake Shop, during a product shoot in her home, 2012

I only let #2 go because I got a sweet, sweet deal on a “minty” one at a thrift shop in Memphis. Like #2 did in 2006, #3 went along with my to England in 2012.

Easter weekend, 2012

The Cenotaph after Remembrance Day, London 2012 

Big Ben and Parliament, London 2012

At the River Thames, London 2012

Natural History Museum, London 2012

Natural History Museum, London 2012

I basically love everything about the Olympus XA. It’s a beautiful little thing to hold in your hand and use. The only thing I don’t like is the flash system. I wish it had a hot shoe! I wish it focused closer, too.  But no one’s perfect, eh?

To be honest, I’ve been so in love with my Ricoh FF-1 that I’ve not used Olympus XA #3 nearly enough, but I’m committing to change that ASAP!


*I’ve explained a bit about rangefinder cameras in the Favorite Faves post about my Yashica GSN/GT

My Favorite Faves: Kelsey’s 17th Birthday

My continuing series featuring photo-related things I love but which pre-dated this blog, therefore have never properly been shared on SWP.

This was in 2009, just after I’d moved into a little apartment in the Cooper-Young neighborhood in Memphis. Eli and Kelsey sometimes came for visits in those early days, and I always took advantage of their “photogenicness” whenever they popped in. I love these photos for two reasons 1. I am really happy with how they turned out. 2. They bring back such good memories of that day.

Photos taken with Nikon FE and Olympus XA

P.S. It’s four years later, and these two wonderful people are now engaged to be married! I always knew they were destined to be husband and wife!!! They’re made for each other! 

Waiting Room

Olympus XA • Expired Fuji Super HQ 200 film

Waiting room chairs outside my dad’s doctor’s office in Coldwater, MS. One of those oddities I run across and have no choice but to pull out a camera and document it. File this under “what is THIS all about??”

{Official} Favorite Place in Memphis

A few weeks ago, I came to a stunning realization: I OFFICIALLY  have a favorite place in Memphis!

“Why is this a stunning realization?”, you may ask. Because I hadn’t really thought about having a favorite place in Memphis, or not having one for that matter, up until this point. But on the night in question, I found myself at this particular locale in my hometown, and it dawned on me that there was no other place the city where I’d rather be.

And that place is:  Orpheum Theatre, located in downtown Memphis. So I’ll round up some of the shots I have on hand from various visits I’ve made to the theatre over the years, along with some I snapped on my most recent visit, and I’ll tell you a little about my experiences there.

Circa 2006

Allow me set the scene for you (that is to say, the circumstances surrounding the aforementioned realization):

My birthday came around a couple of weekends ago. I like to do small, meaningful things for my birthday rather than asking for a huge birthday bash (though those ain’t so bad from time to time!) The ONLY request I had for celebrating the anniversary of my birth this year was that someone accompany me to a movie showing in the Summer Movie Series at the Orpheum. In my opinion, the Summer Movie Series is the coolest thing to do in Memphis during the summer, hands down.

Much to my delight, I discovered that the movie playing on my birthday weekend was going to be Walk the Line. It was part of a series of Memphis-made films they were showing during the Summer Movie Series this year. I immediately knew who had to go see it with me: Mallory!  And – yay! –  she was available to help fulfill my one birthday wish!

Circa 2010

There is just something so special about walking down Beale Street while wearing a pretty dress, on a breezy summer evening, making your way to the resplendent [oh yeah, I just busted out that vocab word!] Orpheum Theatre. When I arrived at the theatre and stood out front waiting for Mallory’s arrival, I took in the atmosphere around me. The iconic theatre marquee, studded underneath with a zillion lights.  The people standing around, chattering before the show begins. The view down Beale Street, with its flashing neon signs. Classic Memphis sights and sounds.

Circa 2006

Stepping  into the lobby of The Orpheum is like a gateway to another era. Everything is plush! Extravagant furnishings, art deco touches, rich fabrics, chandeliers, gilded surfaces everywhere you look. I can just imagine women in mink stoles and men in their best tuxedos, sipping champagne before seeing a performance in the 1930s.

They often have special activities for the audience before the movies plays. Like this trivia contest about Johnny Cash before Walk the Line. Mallory contributed the final tie-breaker question for the contest!

But back to the night a few weeks ago – my “realization” night. Mallory and I made our way into the theatre itself. No matter how many times I walk into the Orpheum, I still get this sense of “oooh!” and “ahhh!” at the grand scale of it all. It’s just…they don’t make ’em like this anymore.

After the trivia contest, Walk the Line started rolling and goodness did Mallory and I have a wonderful time seeing this film! The atmosphere surrounding us added so much to our experience. Not to mention, we were sitting next to this really great German family who seemed to be tourists – they were LOVING the movie and LOVING being at the Orpheum. It was both entertaining and endearing to witness their experience (though I did really wonder how people for whom English is a second language could possibly understand all those “country” accents in Walk the Line! I think I’d have needed subtitles had I been them!) Both we and the German woman I was sitting next to were freaking out when we realized that a crucial scene was actually filmed at The Orpheum. How did we not notice that when we’d seen the movie before?! It was so surreal to watch the scene on the big screen and be able to look around the room we were sitting in, recognizing that it was filmed right here.

Mallory and I left the film feeling like we were on top of the world – that feeling you get when you have the perfect night. We lingered outside, looking at the 1955 Cadillac they had sitting in front of the Orepheum in conjunction with the showing Walk the Line. Such a great feeling of “atmosphere”! I think we both would rank it as one of the best nights we’ve ever had in Memphis. It was a good night to be Memphians.