One of my favorite 35mm cameras is my Olympus XA. Introduced in 1979, this camera is part of a series of cameras (along with the XA1, XA2, XA3 and XA4) but it is the only one of the series to use a rangefinder focus.
The Lens is a Zuiko 35mm f:2.8 lens and is completely covered by the clamshell when closed which makes this camera easy to slip into a pocket. Also, when the clamshell is closed, the camera is powered off which means the batteries last for a very long time.
With the clamshell open, you gain access to the focus lever which sits below the lens. Focusing is easy and fast since the lever has a very short throw and the rangefinder patch is still quite bright in my camera. Above the focus lever is the film speed setting with a range from 25ASA to 800ASA.
The camera uses aperture priority with the apertures being set by a lever beside the lens. Shutter speeds are rated from 1 second to 1/500 and the current shutter speed is shown using a needle that is visible in the viewfinder. (Note: I have seen other websites that quote 10 seconds as the max shutter speed but I have not tested this on my camera – the viewfinder scale only goes to 1 second).
The shutter is extremely sensitive requiring barely a touch to trigger. This means hand held slow shutter speeds are quite possible. Also, the shutter is practically silent lending itself well to being discrete in situations that warrant it.
These days you can pick up an XA for around $40 to $60 on eBay. If that is too expensive the zone focus XA2 is worth checking out. A lot of times the XA2 cameras go for less than $30.
To find out more about the XA and other cameras in the XA family, visit the best XA resource on the web, http://www.diaxa.com/
To see more of my XA shots, check out my Flickr stream with the tag Olympus XA.