Please watch this video first for a discussion on the pros and cons of the Olympus XA vs the LOMO LCA and LCA+. Please note that the video is of high quality and may take a few seconds to load depending on your connection speed.
General Info: All test images were shot at F 2.8 on Kodak TX, processed in Diafine Developer, scanned on an Imacon with no sharpening applied, natural light. Please be sure to click on the images to see them larger.
LCA: Notice the general soft focus/ appearance…I shot this image 10 times and this was the sharpest. I changed my lens to subject distance and I changed my zone focus setting but in the end this was the best. It is not real sharp but does have a nice soft visual quality with some subtle vignetting.
XA: Very sharp at the point of focus (glasses)… and this sharpness is at F 2.8! The XA achieves its best sharpness around F 5.6 – F 8. The OOF (out of focus) quality is nice in the background and general illumination is pretty good edge to edge.
XA+: This is the same negative as the XA sample image above with the addition of a bit of a vignette and a bit of a general surface blur applied in Photoshop…I feel this hits the mark perfectly for my visual needs.
A New Eden – Artworks by yours truly made on the LCA and XA (the new XA artworks can be found on the home page). This overlapping negative technique is possible with both the XA and the LCA and it the subject of a future post here on the Figital Revolution…stay tuned!
Notes: The Olympus XA came in other later versions such as the XA 1, XA 2, XA 3 and the XA 4 all of which are Zone Focus cameras. My favorite and the most collected and used is the original XA followed by the XA 4.
Final Thoughts: I will be posting additional articles regarding the XA with info on fill flash, long bulb exposures and additional tips and techniques in the coming weeks so again stay tuned!
Viva la Revolution- Stephen
UPDATE: I was wrong on the current price of the Lomo LCA+…it is not $199 US as I state in the video but rather $250 US…the XA is now a real bargain!
21 thoughts on “Olympus XA vs LOMO LCA and LCA Plus”
Nicely done, and a big plus for the XA. I’ve never tried a Lomo but I can see why artists love them. Now even more will become familiar with the XA. I was sitting next to the Olympus National Service Manager “Skippy” Uehara the day the XA prototype came in for unveiling at PMA. It didn’t even say “XA” on the top, Skippy had to hand paint the logo. Thank you very much for the plug mister!
John- the XA is a great camera in 1979 and in 2009! You did a great job on the service of my two XA’s…I am very happy indeed!
One feature I like about the Lomo LC-A and LC-a+ is that the cameras can he held flat against a window to eliminate reflections. It looks like the Olympus XA can do this, too.
Although I’ve never used an Olympus XA, my favorite point and shoot is the original Olympus Infinity (marketed outside the U.S.A. as the AF-1). It has absolutely no manual override, but does a great job determining when to use flash and generally picks a slow enough shutter speed to record a respectable amount of ambient light.
The Infinity lacks a flash-off switch, so I’ll occasionally cover the flash with gaffer’s tape.
Very useful, thank you. I will keep my eyes out for an XA. There are a lot of under appreciated 35mm camera’s out in the world. It’s amazing what web hype can do to the resale value when a particular model becomes the latest fashion accessory or lifestyle/status symbol, even if it’s only amoung trendy hipsters, quirky artists and eccentric weirdo’s… I’m still pretty stoked on my Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim that I picked up for about the price of a can of soda.
Funny thing is that I really love the LOMO LCA and the Diana and the Holga…just some of the hype drives me nuts as well. Currently I bounce between the LCA and the XA…both have their strengths.
1. I dont agree with this: “most of the lomo effect has nothing to do with the camera”
=> why don’t you try shooting with ISO100 negative film at first with LCA
2. they have different purpose. XA is for those who want perfect results while LCA is well known for its imperfection.
beside, why don’t you compare XA2, not XA, with LCA.
3. it is interesting to make a survey to know which will be chosen regardless of the price
4. it is better for you to be neutral, by giving pros and cons and let the readers choose
owner of XA2 and LCA
Hello Owner of XA2 and LCA:
I currently am using the LCA (I own 3) for almost all of my A New Eden artworks so I am very aware of the unique properties it has. I also shoot 100 speed film through the LCA for almost all of my artworks and I am again very aware of of the increased saturation that 100 speed film has over say 400 speed film (this is true in all cameras). My point is that much of the color and saturation and hype associated with LCA images is in fact a result of XPro or moving the saturation slider in Photoshop. That is not to say that there are not some wonderful aspects to the LCA (did I mention that I own 3?) that I love and use every day. Yes, each camera, the XA and the LCA are for different purposes and have different abilities as I point out in the video several times…but if you can only have one as I mention in the video the XA would be a “better” all around “camera.” Comparing the XA2 to the LCA is not the point of the article…it was a survey of the general strengths and followed by again “if you could only have one” as a consideration for photographers looking to move into a compact 35mm camera system. With regards to your 3rd statement the XA even with a full repair is less expensive than and LCA+ new and the extra features are hard to beat. I do mention that the LCA+ comes with a 2 year warranty which I point out as a plus. As to the neutral position you suggest…in the end of my review as in the end of all audio and video posts on the Figital Revolution I always end with ” these are just my thoughts and I would love to hear yours”… that means you decide….you can completely disagree with me on everything and that is just fine.
On a future note that may be of interest to you…I am currently putting together a video on the creative strengths of the LCA and WHY despite the “photographic advantages” contained in the XA, WHY I choose to use the LCA for my new artworks. This video (s) will include tips, techniques and creative solutions ONLY possible on the LCA and not on the XA.
I can forgive much of the Lomographic Society’s hype because they’re doing such a bang-up job of promoting film photography. For a newcomer to analog photography, looking at the lists of films they have for sale is like browsing in an enchanted produce department.
As for the cameras themselves, I own an LC-A and LC-A+ and appreciate these cameras’ quirkiness — but they’re obviously not the right tools for every job.
By the way, when using ISO 100 film with my Lomos, I often achieve a highly vignetted, almost x-pro look when processing normally in C-41. This doesn’t happen every time, however, and seems to require a large portion of continuous monocolor background — such as a blue sky.
I predict the next hipster photo trend will be half-frame 35mm.
That’s an interesting note Leigh…the new Diana mini fulfills what you just stated. Lomography.com is really hyping that up now.
I also try to look past the LSI Hype and Hipster talk because anything that supports film and helps keep it alive is OK in my book! Your point about the LCA quirkiness is spot on and I also agree that they are not perfect for every job but they are a fantastic creative tool…99% of my A New Eden artworks are made with the LCA.
The vignetted look is something that varies depending on focus setting, film speed and available light…or a quick action in Photoshop (joke)…in all seriousness I like a bit of vignetting in my artworks and it is this quality married with edge softness of the LCA lens that I really love.
i had LCA+, LCA XA2 and XA and guses what? i sold of all and only have the XA with me now for the very same reasons.
Lomo is an advertising gimmick. but i got to say they done a great job at it for how successful it is now. good marketing efforts. ;D
Someone mentioned the original Infinity AF camera. I suggest also the Olympus Stylus EPIC (with non-zoom 35mm f2.8 lens). This little camera produces the sharpest pictures I have ever seen from an AF P&S camera. Of course, will not do what the XA and Lomo do, but is another camera to consider for another purpose.
Loved the video and this was push to realy want a xa, luckily the camera shop mailed the same day i saw this video that he had 2 xa’s complete with flash. I like the way that you can choose to cross process or have the original photo with the same negative and use photoshop/lightroom for that.
You can do this with a digital picture as well, but i like the film look more then the digital one. Maybe a full frame dslr will give me that feeling also.
Thanks and keep up the good stuff!
Glad the video provided information for your photography… the look of scanned film is always different that digital capture, even a DSLR which is why I love it so much- the look of scanned film in my opinion has depth that digital captures just does not… Happy shooting with your new XA!!
Viva la Revolution!
The XA is a real bargain – I picked one up at goodwill today and I’m really excited to use it. I agree that scanned film has wonderful depth that can’t be duplicated with digital (although I love digital too.) Thanks for the info!
Thanks for this. Found your video via Google and it answered all of my questions about the LCA.
I saw your link in the Olympus XA Users Collective on Flickr and decided to check out the video. A really well done piece and should hopefully help people decide on a camera. One thing I do have to give LSI credit for is their warranty. I was experiencing some issues with my LC-A+. I sent it in for repairs on Friday and they are sending me a brand new camera this afternoon. That’s is impressive customer service in my book. Don’t get me wrong, I love my XA, XA2 and XA3. I always take an XA or XA2 as a backup camera on vacation and they have always served me well. The only issue I have with any of them is the focus area in the rangefinder window has faded on my XA and I have a heck of a time focusing (I have tried the black electrical tape trick, but with mixed results). I will check out Camtech as my XA and XA3 could use a little bit of servicing.
One problem with the Lomo is its poor sealing, in particular the gap near the switch that opens the guard over the lens. Dust and debris can easily collect on the inside of the camera causing problems.
In fact, the Lomo LCA is very prone to mechanical failure, especially shutter problems. Any LCA forum is full with queries regarding breakdowns and shutter failure which makes its ridiculously high price even less understandable.
However, it does give lovely colour rendering in natural light (i.e. without xprocessing), which is why I love it. I’m guessing it’s the lens coating but the LCA gives me photos like no other camera. I’m rather fond of its soft focus too.
Did you mention in the video that the XA is a rangefinder?
Hello- yes the lomo LCA does have some very nice qualities and it also has its fair share of issues… I did mention that the XA is a rangefinder. I also REALLY love the Rollei 35, the S is nice but the first has a great lens that is softer on the edges and produces great color… I will be posting an article in a few weeks on the different systems.
Nice, but… you got the XA for $70-75 on eBay?!
I got an XA2 because I heard that it was a great alternative to the LC-A, for a beginner photographer (something to experiment with) and it was alot cheaper (I wasnt ready to dish out $250 on an LC-A if I ‘went off’ photography).
Point being, I got my XA2 for $10 on eBay.. I think you paid too much! Mine works a charm and I’m currently saving for a LC-A+ 🙂
But thanks for the vid, it was a factor that convinced me to buy the XA2 before going in for the LC-A and I couldn’t be happier! I love it.
Glad the XA2 is working out fine for you… the XA is a very different beast from the XA2 as the XA has a coupled rangefinder instead of zone focus like the XA2 and LCA…. I think my price paid for the XA was a bargain as it is in mint condition but in the end they all have the potential of making great photographs. Happy shooting.