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Olympus XA: first results

A few weeks ago I was in Portland, which invariably means a trip to Blue Moon Camera in the St. Johns neighborhood. I bought some film, and then made the “mistake” of asking about their point and shoot film cameras. I walked out of there with an Olympus XA rangefinder.

I stopped in Kalama, Washington, to check out the Burger Bar. It’s a roadside mom and pop burger joint that I have been meaning to visit for a while now. Unfortunately, it’s one of those exits on I-5 that is easy to miss, even when you’re looking for it. I-5 is usually a huge mess, so when I’ve blown right by the Burger Bar I’ve just kept going. That day I spotted the exit and turned off. I ordered a couple of their burgers and loaded some Acros 100 (I think) film while I ate.

Olympus XA.

Olympus XA.

Burger Bar, Kalama, Washington. Fujifilm XT2.

Burger Bar, Kalama, Washington. Fujifilm XT2.

Here are a few of the photos from the first role that I liked, even if they’re a bit blurry or dark. I have a lot of practicing to do. Most of the shots were really out of focus (not included), which is concerning because I thought I got most right. Or at least closer than I did. I have some ideas about what I’m doing wrong (see after the photos).

Burger Bar, Kalama, Washington, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Burger Bar, Kalama, Washington, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Columbia Inn Restaurant, Kalama, Washington, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Columbia Inn Restaurant, Kalama, Washington, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Dick’s Drive-In, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Dick’s Drive-In, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Ben and friends, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Ben and friends, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Kenna, Anjali, Edyn, Corvus, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Kenna, Anjali, Edyn, Corvus, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Kurt and Kenna, Corvus, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Kurt and Kenna, Corvus, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Winston, Corvus, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Winston, Corvus, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Kurt, Corvus, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Kurt, Corvus, Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Serene and Nile. These two are responsible for some incredible food on Capitol Hill. Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

Serene and Nile. These two are responsible for some incredible food on Capitol Hill. Seattle, December 2018. Olympus XA, Acros 100.

  • Not paying attention to the shutter speed and camera shake. Since the camera is aperture priority, the meter will use the aperture and the ISO to choose the appropriate shutter speed. I’ve probably had it drop too low for hand held shooting. (Film camera experts - if I get any of this wrong, please weigh in. No ego here.)

  • Recomposing like I would with a digital camera or just flat out not lining up the rangefinder focus correctly. I’ll need to be better about keeping notes to be sure.

  • Wrong film. There’s not a lot that can be done about that one. I’m not the first to say it - digital spoils us. If you’ve got Acros 100 loaded and you’re trying to shoot in low light, you better hope that flash does the trick.