One of my favourite cameras, Olympus XA
So why did I end up years ago changing to the Olympus XA instead of a more capable Olympus OMC-2, or another SLR. The reason is simple; the best camera is the camera you have with you. I’m sure you have heard this before, but it is true!
Over the years I realised that there is no point in having a camera which I don’t take with me where ever I go and Olympus XA was small enough to fit into my pocket. To help you to understand how small it is, I’ve attached a picture showing the size compared to Leica Q. That’s why it so easily came with me on every holiday trip, business trip, skiing, fishing, practically everywhere. I didn’t take pictures all the time, but when I wanted to do so, I had a camera which was also very simple to use.
So how simple? Olympus XA has a 35 mm 1:2,8 Zuiko lens, which worked great on most of the situations both outdoors and indoors. XA is so called aperture priority camera, where you just select the ISO (based on the film), then the aperture (depending on your need), you focus and the camera decides the shutter speed. There is also an indicator in the optical viewfinder showing if the exposure is correct or out of range so you can check that before pressing the shutter. If you wanted it to be very simple, you just put the aperture on 5.6 and focus on 3 meters after which you got sharp pictures from close to far. The only risk was under or over exposure if you didn’t check the meter. It has some additional features too; overexposure by +1,5 stops, battery check and a self timer. These modes you select with a lever at the bottom of the camera (see the pic).
I’m still amazed how clever little camera it was and is, and because of that I have boxes and albums full of pictures, out of which many would have never been taken without my XA. Thinking about it in today’s standards, there is nothing special in XA as nearly everyone has a camera with them in the mobile phone. I think it is great and that’s why any one of us can be a photographer, anytime, anywhere and you can see it in the overflow of pictures and selfies in the social media. The wonderful thing in it is that there are so many emerging photographers producing really beautiful and imaginary pictures just with a mobile phone camera.
Coming to the end, I hope you agree that the best camera is the camera you have with you. The same “truth” happens to be one of the main reasons why I fell in love with Leica M later on, but I’ll write about it another time.
So have a camera with you, any camera, and capture the moments you want to save like I did with my XA and the three pictures I have on my bedside table ;-)
P.s. This was written on a flight to London to a Leica Masterclass with Fulvio Bulgani.