Santa Cruz on my Olympus XA 1

I inherited an Olympus XA 1 from my grandfather after he passed away. He was really into hiking, exploring the foothills surrounding the Bay Area and the Sierras.

So when I first got this camera I knew I wanted to respect his legacy and capture moments of my life that are spent outdoors. So earlier this year we took a week long trip down to Santa Cruz and I decided it would be a good time to give the XA 1 a try.


I knew nothing about this camera but all my friends that shoot said it was one of their favorite.

“The Olympus XA was a 35 mm rangefinder camera built by Olympus of Japan. It was one of the smallest rangefinder cameras ever made, together with the Contax T.

It was designed by Yoshihisa Maitani who had joined Olympus Optical Co Ltd in 1956. He was the chief camera designer and managing director of Olympus Optical Co Ltd., having developed a number of legendary cameras during his career. These included the Pen series, the OM series, the XA series, the IS series and the [mju:] series of cameras.

The original model, the XA, was sold from 1979 to 1985. The original XA features true rangefinder focusing, a fast 35mm f/2.8 lens, and aperture priority metering. The lens was protected by a sliding dust cover. Film wind is by thumb-wheel, aperture is set on the body using a small lever, focus is set by a small lever below the lens, film speed (ISO) is set on a dial below the lens, the viewfinder is optical direct-view with the rangefinder frame embedded in it and a display of the shutter speed at the side. The XA1 used a fixed-focus lens.” - Wiki

I didn’t expect any of these shots in the dark woods of Santa Cruz to come out. But damn, I am stoked on this one. The motion, the ghosted image, the freshly shaped berm, it’s perfect.


After a long day of riding I met up with some buddies who showed me an old freeride trail that was being resurrected. Cobb was absolutely destroying this hip.


As the days get shorter I am learning to appreciate my time in the woods that much more. The beauty of Santa Cruz is you have great riding all year long. It takes moving to a place like the PNW to truly understand this.


After shooting this first roll I get why people are so hooked on film.

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