Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With

Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With

Talk about the superlatives of the Olympus XA series of 35mm clamshell design film cameras, one of my regrets at the moment is not having the Olympus XA as one of my collectibles. I have an XA 1 which I reviewed previously, and contrary to many adverse comments about it, I found the camera to be a real delight with its point-and-shoot simplicity. Reviewing the XA 4 Macro, which is more recent, give me the opportunity to go street shooting with a 28mm lens. And now, the Olympus XA 2.

Olympus XA2 (experience + review)
Olympus XA 2, Front Cutout
Olympus XA 2
The Olympus XA 2, the second model of the XA series, is a simplified version of the highly acknowledged Olympus XA. This model comes with a 3-zone focusing lens and a programmed exposure system powered by a selenium meter. Sold alongside the more costly XA, the XA 2 was offered as an economical alternative. Nothing to slouch here either, the XA 2 is said to have a wonderfully sharp lens, almost on par to that of the XA. Both models offer a near complete smooth and silent operation, and is small and compact that you can carry it around in the front pocket of your jeans.

Basic Camera Features
Olympus XA 2, Front

Introduced in 1980, the XA 2 has high-grade four elements in four groups F.Zuiko f/3.5 35mm lens. Closest focusing distance is 1 meter (3.3 feet), and the other zone focus distances are 3 meters (10 feet), and infinity. Exposure is handled by a CdS exposure sensor fitted just above the lens. Programmed shutter range is from 2 seconds at f/3.5 to 1/750th at f/14. Film speed range is from ASA 25 to ASA 800.

Olympus XA 2, Top

Made available in four body colors - urban white, heart red, blue, and a special commemorative pink, which is very rare - the XA 2 was the first camera to win a Good Design Mark Competition (1981) sponsored by the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Association.

Zone Focusing
Olympus XA 2, Zone Focusing

The Olympus XA 2 focuses manually with a simple three-position zone-focus system. The distance setting slider switch, with the distance setting displayed in graphic form, is located on the front body panel. The slider can be easily adjusted with your finger as you puts the camera info focus. Focusing distances are 1.5-meters, 3-meters, and infinity.

The zone focus range defaults back to the group photo 3-meter mark when the slide cover is closed and stays put at the same distance zone when the cover is slid open again, a reminder here that you should always check the distance setting for every shot you are taking.

Olympus XA 2, Bottom

Film ISO
The camera will accept films with an ISO speeds of 25 to 800. ISO speed setting is set on a partial dial located on the lower part of the lens housing.

Flash Compatibility
For flash photography, and like the rest of the XA camera series, the XA 2 can only be fitted with the proprietary XA series camera flash units. The XA 2 was sold with the A11 flash unit as a package but will also work with the A16.

Exposure Info
Olympus XA 2, Exposure Info

The viewfinder is plain, bright, and clear, displaying only the bright line frame and a green diode, down on the bottom right corner of the viewfinder window, which lights up when the shutter speed is at 1/30 second or slower, signalling that you should turn the flash unit on or place the camera on a tripod. A zig-zag arrow flash icon is displayed on the left side of the bright line frame when the flash unit is switched on.

Battery
The Olympus XA 2 uses a pair of the standard LR44 1.5V. batteries to operate. The clamshell cover powers off the camera completely when it is closed, saves battery drain, making the battery last, probably, the lifetime of the camera.

Using The Camera
Olympus XA 2, Using The Camera

A small lever on the base of the camera, which doubles as a stabilizer when extended for self-timer shooting, provides a battery check and self-timer function. Self-timer delay is about 12 seconds, its operation is indicated by a red LED on the front panel of the camera which blinks and beeps the timing delay.

The Shutter Tab
On a good working unit, the electronic membrane shutter system is light to the touch, needing only a tab with your finger to release the shutter. No exposure lock trick here, and no +1.5EV exposure compensation lever for backlight either, as can be found on the original XA, and later XA models, namely the XA 3 and XA 4.

First Images
My first outing with the Olympus XA 2 was on a very bright and sunny morning, and again, as I have done with the XA 4, went on a shooting spree without regard to the zone focus setting. It probably works out just as well with these sample images I am posting.

Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With, Image 01
Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With, Image 02

Set the film ISO setting a notch lower than its real rating, your shots will be slightly under-exposed, and the images will come up with a slightly deeper color concentration.

Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With, Image 03
Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With, Image 04

There was also the element of fun with the diminutively small camera, especially this guy who was very curious about the camera I was carrying and decided to demo me his version of 'Dance of the Bubble Fish' when asked to pose for a couple of shots.

Olympus XA 2, Dance of the Bubble Fish 01
Olympus XA 2, Dance of the Bubble Fish 02

Though not as 'Grab-and-Go' as the Olympus XA 1, which I liked very much as a hipster shooter, the XA 2 is very much a camera to be considered if you are a more serious about getting a camera which should suit you well with the basic genres of film photography.

Olympus XA 2 Instructions: Click here to download from www.buktus.org


Resource Links:
Olympus XA2 or why I learned to love a camera - Guest post by Frank Lehnen - 35mmc
Lomography - Olympus XA2 - The Grab and Go Camera!
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