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  • Writer's pictureMadeleine Muzdakis

An Olympus XA in Brooklyn

This fall I moved to Brooklyn to start my law school experience. Law school and my work as a writer have kept me busy, but my resolution for the new year (and new semester) is to get back to shooting film. I did, however, get the chance to run a roll of Arista Edu 400 through my Olympus XA and take a camera walk around my neighborhood.

The Olympus XA was long on my list of wanted cameras. Such an ingenious, compact rangefinder with excellent exposure control. I specifically wanted the XA, versus the XA 2 and other models with zone focusing. However, an XA in good condition runs over $100 on eBay. My dedication to stalking the far corners of camera listings paid off in the spring of 2021.

While searching camera lots, I found one small lot of four cameras where no one else had bid. The lot and description did not list the included cameras, so no one else seemed to have noticed the pristine XA in the lot. Nothing else was worth noting, a Polaroid Spectra and two 1980s chunky plastic point and shoots. The lot was sold as-is, condition unknown. I took the chance for 25$ and 10$ shipping.

The XA arrived in perfect condition, the other cameras were disheveled. Even the battery compartment was clean. I quickly purchased a battery and anxiously tested the camera. Success! It works flawlessly. Despite some disintegration of the light seals, no light leaks so far over multiple rolls. The A11 flash did not work, however, I kept it to see if I could get it running some time. It's possible I tested it with a bad battery I had lying around.

The Olympus XA is such a sleek and stylish camera that it feels very "New York." It also fits so perfectly in my school bag, my purse, or my jacket pocket. I've shot several rolls around the city, and my only complaint is that with wide apertures I tend to get some blur. This is not the camera, but rather a combination of bad eyesight and a dim square in the rangefinder. However, from sipping wine on a rooftop in Williamsburg, to capturing the clouds, to waiting for the train, this camera can do it all.

I hope to use it for some street portraits with friends this spring. While I generally prefer an SLR, this camera was definitely a great find! Scroll down for a few more images from this roll and others shot on the Olympus XA with Kodak Pro Image 100 and Kodak Portra 400.

Wine over Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Prospect Park

Adirondack Mountains in March 2021

My Brother in the Adirondacks

Mom at home in Rochester, NY

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