In my bag this week No. 16: Denver Comic Con and the Olympus XA2

Olympus XA2 in my bag
Some of the contents of my little Domke F5X-B camera bag for Denver Comic Con 2015: Olympus XA2, expired Kodak 200-speed film, Instax Mini photos and a new leather patch on my bag from Steam Crow. (Daniel J. Schneider)

Okay, so Denver Comic Con isn’t exactly in my bag. But that’s where I took my bag this weekend, and the Olympus XA2 was inside it along with the previously-mentioned Polaroid Mio.

Denver Comic Con has been an annual event for Kate and I since it started four years ago. This year’s installment took place a bit earlier than the first three, on Memorial Day weekend instead of closer to Father’s Day.

I went to all three days of the con — usually I skip the opening ceremonies on Friday night, but with the new schedule I still had three days to attend — Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Saturday I helped with our daily coverage at The Denver Post which limited the time I could spend shooting, so I took my Nikon bag with a couple FM2s and lenses, and my MD-12 motor drive.

Sunday I was around for help with coverage, too, but didn’t wind up being needed. I took my Pentax 6×7 and made some portraits and tried several types of expired film.

After two days on my feet with heavy camera bags, my back hurt — though the Pentax bag was actually lighter than the Nikon bag, being absent the two dozen AA batteries between the MD-12, a flash and a set of spares for each. So Monday morning I went with the goal of finishing off the film I’d already planned and started — a roll of 35mm in my recently-acquired Olympus XA2, and a couple of film packs in my Polaroid Mio. Kate was sick so I didn’t stay very long.

Front close-up of Olympus XA2
A tight front view of the front of the Olympus XA2; the Zuiko lens is well-regarded and the zone focus slide-switch is right at your fingertip. (Daniel J. Schneider)

I actually took the XA2 all three days — it’s so slim you can slip it in the pocket of your jeans, or find a niche to squeeze it into in just about any bag. I loaded it with some expired Kodak Funtime Film 200.

The XA2 came from the Rocky Mountain Regional Camera & Collectibles Show swap meet, and so did the film. So much film. At $1 a roll for expired film at one of the booths, I stocked up a bunch. My expectations aren’t high, but there was a lot of good stuff in the bins.

I poked around and picked up a couple other things, too — an AS-1 flash coupler for my Nikon F2, a hood for my Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI lens and so on.

Among the other things I checked out was an Olympus XA — a tiny rangefinder camera masquerading as a point-and-shoot. I felt the prices asked for XAs at the show were too high for the condition they were in — $75-200 for cameras that, while apparently functional, were in pretty rough shape.

As we were preparing to leave, though, I got chatty with one vendor and noticed he had an XA2. He said to make him an offer, and I only had a twenty left in my wallet (and my budget for the day), so I offered it. He took it.

The XA2 swaps the true rangefinder for zone focusing, which has me wishing a little bit that I’d held out for an XA. Probably I’ll just have to try both eventually. This one came to me with a flash attachment and good battery. It’s scuffed a bit, but seems otherwise in excellent shape.

Comic Con Harley Quinn
A steampunk-influenced Harley Quinn cosplayer at Denver Comic Con, Monday, May 25, 2015. Shot on Fujifilm Instax Mini film with my Polaroid Mio. (Daniel J. Schneider)

I had a good time shooting the Polaroid Mio at Denver Comic Con — and it was a hit. At least half a dozen people hung around to see how their photo came out, and several other photographers gawked, too. The Pentax 6×7 did get one very chatty fellow talking and asking questions on Sunday, but he was a bit of a nuisance — not giving the kind of fun attention you want your camera to be getting.

No results yet from any of the traditional films, but I’ve attached one quick snap from the Polaroid Mio. While I’m still pretty sure I won’t be a long-term Polaroid/instant guy, it was fun for a day at comic con. Half a day. Well, about two hours, really.

Also note the spiffy leather “Reliable Robot Repair” patch I’ve added to my little Camera bag. I snagged the patch from the Steam Crow booth to match the shirt of the same design that Kate got me for Xmas last year. Actually — Kate bought me the patch when I was debating whether to buy it for myself and called it an early birthday present. Thanks, Kate!

Stopping at the Steam Crow booth is becoming a tradition for us, too. We’ve watched their setup get bigger each year and haven’t gotten away yet without buying something. Kate and I both like their design style, and they’re such friendly folks that we’ve greatly enjoyed seeing their business blossom.

Caught a bit of the old Con Crud (Kate got an even worse case) but feeling better now. I spent a bit of my couple recovery days stitching the patch onto my bag and scanning Instax film from the Mio. I also read a lot of comics and did a lot of nothing. Looking forward to whatever my next adventure will be.

Oh — I almost forget. Check out this awesome Space Marine costume. I’m pretty sure it’s the best costume I’ve ever seen in person. It’s been years and years since I played 40K with my friends in high school, but I’m surprised how much I remembered about the Adeptus Astartes and the amazingly detailed future history of the Warhammer universe. We march for Macragge!

Space Marine cosplay at DCC
Guido Kimble in his Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine costume at Denver Comic Con, Sunday, May 24, 2015. The markings on his power armor indicate he is a Company Captain of the Ultramarines chapter. (Daniel J. Schneider)