Posted January 2017

Kayaking with the Olympus XA


– Think we’ll get caught in it?
– Not sure… looks to be headed west don’t you think?
– Probably. Let’s keep heading north and we should be good.

Heading up and down narrow dirt roads along the outer coast of the island we finally find a spot to get in to the water. A tiny bay by some dilapidated boathouses, overgrown with reed, just wide and deep enough to drop the kayaks in. Slipping through the inlet we find passage to the open sea.

The air is dense and warm. A thunder storm is drawing closer and a drizzle cools us down. Turning our back to the clouds the July sun is making rainbows.

I brought the little Olympus XA. Even in hindsight it feels like the perfect camera for the outing. Small enough to fit in a pocket on my life-preserver means it’s easily accessed whenever a potential shot appears. It’s also cheap enough for me not to worry much about ruining it. I preset the aperture to f/11 and scale focus. It’s only my second time in a kayak and I still feel the hull rolling precariously beneath me. Not having to fiddle with settings feels like a huge advantage.

A dense archipelago dots the coast and we paddle along island after island. After a while we stretch our legs on a small holm.

Heading farther out we spot some rare fauna. Heron is a common sight here, but not in the quantities we encounter. Swans take a skeptical interest in us, following along but keeps their distance. Having a white-tailed eagle take off just in front of us, joining two others in flight is awe-inspiring and results in goosebumps.

The slowly setting sun gets closer to the horizon as we make our way back to the little bay. We get out of the water, load the kayaks back on the roof of the car and head home. A day to remember is coming to an end.

I’m very happy with how the XA performed during this outing. The handling was incredibly transparent and the quality of the resulting images is high overall. I’ve even made a few fairly large prints that I’m very happy with – very little give away that they were made with something as simple as the XA. The only reasonable alternative I see is probably the mju II that I've been giving a go lately.

As I finally compile this entry it’s midwinter. The warm July breeze couldn’t be more distant. Still these images bring me back. They stand out as some of my favourite from the past year and make me long for new outings.


Further reading

Olympus XA – The Pocket Marvel
Olympus mju II – First roll impressions



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All photos in this post were taken using the Olympus XA using Fuji Superia 400. Developed by Team Framkallning and scanned using the Plustek 8200i. Exif-data is intact. Open any image in a new window for a closer look.