Olympus XA Adventures

I’ve been on the search for the perfect companion camera over the past months. Something that fits into my bag and, when necessary, in my pocket. I’ve tried the Canonet QL17, but even though it’s a nice camera, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. It’s supposed to be more like a point and shoot, but with the usual distinctiveness of a cute little film camera. Obviously that also meant warming up with 35mm again, because let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a compact medium format camera. Though I gotta say, the Plaubel Makina 67 is as close as it gets.

Holocaust Memorial

Anyway, enough of that blabber, you know what I mean. What I found was, among other things, the Olympus XA. It’s a very neat little camera, and if you consider the original XA (there’s also XA1-4) it has a true rangefinder and has aperture priority. It also has the best lens in the XA series. Awesome! Ebay to the rescue, not too long after I started lusting after one I actually held it in my hands. What’s unexpected compared to the other cameras I have that it uses batteries that are still available.

Yeah, another one
You never expect these things to happen
Chair envy
Not a family car

As with the Canonet I still have to get used to focusing and composing with a rangefinder, but either way, it’s pretty fun shooting with it. I’ve stuffed some Kodak Ektachrome 100GX (sweet slide film) in it and a roll of Lucky 200 color negative film, courtesy of Mr. J.R. Ball from Texas. Both came out pretty nice, but I still need to practice with it. But yeah, it’s a neat little camera. If you’re looking for something similar, the XA or the XA2 might just be for you. It’s no SLR and it definitely lacks real sharpness, but it just adds to the fun.


Unfortunately the light seals don’t work as they should anymore, but that’s a problem that can easily be fixed. Of course not too long after I got the XA I also found a Lomo LCA, so I guess these two will be my pocket companions from now on, each getting some photo action in turn.


Too Many Cameras?

Lately, I’ve been wondering, is there such a thing as having too many cameras? The obvious answer is: of course not! But think about it, all the excitement of buying new cameras all the time, the gleeful eyes when you unpack it, and try it out for the first time. Then it goes on your shelf to sit with the other cameras in your collection. From time to time you pick it up again, stuff a roll in it, and go out to shoot with it.


Notice a theme here? That’s not the first time that has happened, right? I know it’s like that for me and my cameras. I fancy a new one, find out it’s reasonably priced, and eventually I’ll hold one in my hands. There’s joy in that sure, but lately I’ve come to think about not buying any more cameras until I feel that I’m ready to buy a really nice one, say a Bessa or a Leica, or at least until I have the feeling I’ve played enough with the ones I have to really know their strengths and weaknesses.

I’ve even started to give some of my cameras away, mainly Polaroid cameras, because I simply didn’t use them anymore. So what’s the point of owning them? I’ve also refrained from buying new ones I kept an eye on to avoid having more cameras that will be used less and less. Of course I won’t just give away most of my cameras, I still like most of them, and they come to good use in their times.

But, and here’s the kicker, when you have so many cameras, spend so little time with each, how do you get comfortable with them, how can you really get to know the upsides and the quirks of each and every one of them? I sure as hell don’t have the time to shoot a dozen rolls of film every week whilst also keeping up the Polaroids spirit. Using a specific camera comes and goes like the seasons, so there’s always a time when I use a specific camera for a longer time. But still, I get the feeling, I could get more out of it, if I just played around with its features, restrictions or quirks a bit more.

So that’s what I’m gonna do. Ignore my recent purchases, of course, the Lomo LCA and the Olympus XA are my trusty companions from now on, every day cameras, I’ll take with me wherever I go. Their size is just right, and their features allow for just the right compromise between having some influence on the photo and just shooting as you go. But I do love my Holga, the Pentacon, and the Yashica, all of them. So each of them will get playtime, and I’ll try to play with them in good detail.

Also, see Amandas post on deciding what cameras to pack. Not exactly the same, but a similar situation, and posted just yesterday as chance has it.


We recently discovered a nice cafe right in the center of Berlin. Usually we tend to stay away from that area, because it’s full of insanely hip people and tourists. But this one is a keeper. It’s called Oliv, it has a very nice interior, and they serve excellent coffee. Obviously the light is perfect for Polaroids. What more could you wish for?

Obviously, they also serve flat white (picture below), the perfect combination of just enough milk to not ruin the taste of the coffee, and a double shot of espresso. I like seeing the Australian/New Zealand culture of the flat white on the rise in Berlin, it’s A Good Thing™.



If you’re in Berlin, like decent coffee in a nice atmosphere, the Oliv is highly recommended. J also took some Polaroids for your viewing pleasure.

Office Decoration

For our new office, we wanted to have something artsy on our wall, so the office doesn’t look too boring. Understandable, right? The others were keen to pick out some of my photos to go up on the wall, so we went through most of the shots from last year’s trip to Canada and NYC.

The results were in after a while, the clear winner was Coney Island, caught on Fuji Velvia 100F film, shot with the Holga. I love these shots a lot, and I don’t mind seeing them every day on our wall. They’re printed on canvas, and even though the conversion to CMYK reduced the saturation quite a bit, they still look pretty close to the original. If only digital printing wouldn’t turn the vignette into some magenta-to-black gradient. Oh well, can’t have everything. They still look nice.

Coney Island in our office

They also made me rethink if I should sell prints somewhere. Who knows? What we still need in the office is an inspiration wire, obviously.

Fuji Discontinues The Pro 800Z Film (Updated)

It’s sad news that the British Journal of Photography is bringing us. Apparently Fuji will cease production of the Pro 800Z film this September. Sure, it’s even more of a niche film then their other Pro line films, but it’s a really nice 800 speed film, with very little grain when exposed properly. It’s perfect for the Holga in winter, when the sun doesn’t come up too far, and obviously for shooting any other camera in low light, as The 10 cent designer proves.

My kind of house

It’s a shame really, but probably not very surprising. If it helps to keep the rest of the Fuji film Pro line on the shelves, so be it. Only thing left now is to buy a couple of boxes before it’ll vanish. Stocks should last till November, so get yours before it’s too late.

Update: Hot on the heels of me ordered three packs of 120 800Z film, the British Journal of Photography posts a news update informing us that Fuji Japan might not discontinue the film after all. Oh well. Now I have a stash of it, so that’s that. We’ll see what the final decision is going to be.