The Outstanding Olympus XA2

Taken with an OMD + 35mm f1.4 Voigtlander Nokton

XA2 with optional A11 flash accessory

I first saw this camera sitting on the shelf in our “dead camera” section of the showroom. I couldn’t have taken it seriously as at a glance, it is a consumer grade point-and-shoot camera with no real manual controls.

Little did I know how capable (and fun) this camera would turn out to be in the real world.

Ektar 100 ASA film

Sydney Skyline – Olumpus XA2 + Ektar 100 film

On paper the camera seems pretty average. The lens is a Zuiko 35mm f 3.5, it has automatic metering and a shutter speed range of 2 seconds to 1/750 of a second. Pretty standard stuff for a leaf shutter compact RF. Yet for some reason I end up with more usable shots per roll than any other camera I own.

Arguably the best thing that this camera has going for it is its tiny size. Olympus managed to squeeze a tack-sharp 35mm / 3.5 into a black box that will fit in my back pocket. Not to mention that this thing has durability that belies it’s bubbly user friendly styling. The back door is a black matte finished metal that will stand up to years of daily use. The designers apparently wanted the camera to feel like a smooth pebble, they succeeded in this endeavour. Although the clam shell door is plastic, its a high quality finish that doesn’t scratch easy and provides ample protection for the bare lens underneath (I should mention that you cannot buy a lens filter for this as there are no screw threads to apply it to).

Cyclist in Redfern – Olympus XA2 + Ektar 100

The Zuiko lens that Olympus designed specifically for this camera excels at its job. It is sharp pretty much from wide open down to f 16 and sharp in the center and quite acceptable at the corners. The viewfinder is admittedly on the small side – the upshot of it being such a small camera- but I have no real trouble composing with it. Focus is done by choosing one of the three focus points on the front of the camera with a little lever; Far, Close and Closer. Simple.

The film advance lever is more of a circular cog that you twist with your thumb, like a disposable (it’s likely that this was to save space in the body of the camera). The red shutter release button is one of the lightest shutter buttons I’ve ever encountered, it really only needs a light press to fire the shutter, useful in any situation where speed is important.

I’ve found that this camera exceeds all expectations. Even three decades later it’s still going strong and showing no real signs of wear despite heavy use. I can essentially carry an equivalent of a medium to high megapixel count camera in my jacket wherever I go. Awesome!

Now the only real limitation is the amount of film I decide to take.

Taken with an OMD + 35mm f1.4 Voigtlander Nokton

http://www.mattsitas.com

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