Olympus XA
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Olympus XA

History: The Olympus XA is one of the smallest 35mm rangefinder cameras ever made. Sold from 1979 to 1985, this camera manages to tuck a very sharp Zuiko 35mm F2.8 lens (with a 4-blade aperture) behind a protective sliding door. The camera is aperture priority-only, however there is a +1.5 Exp. comp. lever on the bottom of the body. The camera itself is built mostly of plastic, but still feels dense in hand.

Why we like it: There's a lot to like about this tiny rangefinder: It's incredibly quiet, the lens is sharp and the metering is good. It also represents one of the most unusual camera designs of its time. The focusing lever is admittedly a bit small and fiddly, but the focus depth scale makes things a bit easier.

'The Olympus XA is one of the smallest 35mm rangefinder cameras ever made.'

Buy one: It's pretty easy to find this camera sold alongside its original accessory flash (which mounts on the side of the body). Expect to pay between $50-150 for one in working order, with or without the flash. A note of caution: sometimes these turn up in seemingly working order, but with a dead light meter (bad news for an aperture priority-only camera).

Also consider: The Olympus XA2. It is essentially a simplified version of the XA, but with a 35mm F3.5 lens and zone focusing. Some people find the XA2 easier for casual pointing and shooting.