Yoshihisa Maitani’s last masterpiece The Olympus XA (1979 - 1985) The two overriding themes of all Maitani camera designs throughout his career were excellent optics and portability. From the revolutionary half frame Pen cameras of the 60’s, the rangefinders & OM series SLRs of the 70’s & 80’s on to his last breakthrough design the Olympus XA. Again he stuck to his core values designing a whole new lens and shutter system that would fit into a smaller lighter package without sacrificing image quality. Nothing was overlooked, hundreds of hours were spent just working out how to avoid having a detachable lens cover! The result was the first ever “clamshell” camera. While the XA was another revolutionary rethink & design, in some ways it also set the groundwork for the thousands of less than stellar compact & increasingly plastic cameras models of the late 80’s & 90’s.

The XA was also the first camera that Maitani designed with women in mind. In a 2005 seminar he talked about how all previous cameras had been designed for men with lots of dials and buttons! With the XA he tried to come up with a design that both men & women would find appealing. Looking like a camera when open but not like a camera when closed. Four versions of the XA followed the original but in my opinion none could match the original in quality or capability.

The photos that follow are not good examples of what this camera can do. I used this 2002 Kirkland Signature 200 film which is Agfa film. Time had not been kind to it though which was a bit surprising as most old Agfa film I’ve used has held up much better than this did.