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Focus problem with Olympus XA

One of the many things I like about shooting film is the anticipation and excitement that sets in the moment you drop your rolls off at the lab. Everything else seems to move so fast these days. If we can’t have it instantly, we get frustrated. I’m not convinced that our Amazon Prime lifestyle is a healthy one.

Unfortunately, that anticipation and excitement can turn into a costly fail. I dropped off a couple of rolls last week that I shot on my Olympus XA and my Hasselblad 500cm. There’s clearly something wrong with my XA or how I’m using it.

Group photo at Poetry Brunch. I really wish this had turned out. Corvus, Capitol Hill, Seattle.

Group photo at Poetry Brunch. I really wish this had turned out. Corvus, Capitol Hill, Seattle.

The Olympus XA is a rangefinder. I think it was made in the early 1980s. It’s a little finicky, especially in low light or when using the flash. The viewfinder isn’t all that bright, and it can be difficult to see if you’re properly focusing it and whether it’s exposed correctly.

The last roll I shot had 36 exposures. I think I got 3 photos that were close to being in focus. I think something’s wrong with it. Even if I were focusing it poorly, which is possible, I should have had a much higher percentage of shots that were just outside the correct focus. A month after I bought the camera the focusing lever was stuck. I applied some pressure and got it moving again, but I’m starting to suspect that I damaged it. I’ll shoot one more during the day and keep track of the settings, see how that goes.