Olympus XA3 Review


As much as I love my DSLR, perfect for special occasions and blogging, ideally if I had the time, money and patience, everything would be film processed. I’ve got quite a collection of film cameras now and should use them more often. I’d read good reviews of the Olympus XA3 online, so when I swooped in with a winning bid of £10 on eBay, I was pretty chuffed. The camera came with a screw on flash pack (Electronic Flash A11) which is essential if you want to take photos at night or indoors.

I wanted a new point and shoot film camera that wasn’t totally limited but wasn’t going to have me puzzling over each individual setting. There’s nothing worse than pouring everything into your photos only to find a collection of grey/black smudgey images appear when developed. Film is exciting. Exciting to see your camera’s take on your image – some you may have completely forgotten even existed. Digital is great, but I’d rather have one, maybe slightly darker lopsided image, than twenty clones.

The Olympus XA3 takes a standard 35mm roll of film. I picked up a 36 exp, 200 ISO roll from Poundland that seemed to do just fine. Unscrew the the flash pack and insert the film as usual. 

What makes this camera different to a standard point and shoot film camera is that you have some control over the focus point and power of the flash. You can adjust the settings on the flash and below the lens to state what ISO you are using. To the right of my thumb is where you adjust the focus. You can choose between three settings – head and shoulders, standing up, or landscape (infinity), in which the camera will focus on either the foreground or background. As you can see in some of my examples (and after a glass of wine or two on New Year’s Eve), I forgot to change this and as my friend got nice and up-close, I was too late to yell ‘CHANGE THE SETTING!’

I took photos both inside and outside to see how the camera reacted to the change in light. The first batch of photos were taken on a late afternoon bike ride and you can see the light become less strong. I didn’t use the flash to see how the camera would cope with the low lighting and it seemed to do pretty well. Inside however it’s best to use a flash. In the photo of myself with friend Josh (second from last), the flash was forgotten. It does leave quite a soft effect, but for sharpness and reliability, flash is definitely recommended. 

This camera is great for those wanting to experiment a little with film but not fully commit to the time and patience of a manual film camera. A step up from a standard point and shoot, and at £10 – a bit of a bargain!

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