Olympus XA2, Getting Started With

Olympus XA2, Getting Started With

Film Camera Review:

Olympus XA2, Getting Started With

'A quick look review at the Olympus XA2 35mm capsule camera, a sharpshooter with a 3-zone focusing lens'

Introduction and Overview

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 XA1 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 XA4 Macro, which is more recent, gives me the opportunity to go street shooting with a 28mm lens. And now, the Olympus XA2.

Olympus XA2, Kit with A11 flash, instruction, box, and case

The Olympus XA2, 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 XA2 was offered as an economical alternative.

Shoot film: Olympus XA2

Thanks to Fran Meneses (Frannerd) for helping me out and filming this video! As always, the drums are by the amazing Rodrigo Recabarren... and if you want to, you can DOWNLOAD THE MUSIC (and use it!): http://rodrigorecabarren.com/music-for-videos/ AND NOW, SOME TECHNICAL DETAILS All my videos are recorded with a Canon EOS M.

Nothing to slouch here either, the XA2 is said to have a wonderfully sharp lens, almost on par with that of the XA. Both models offer a near-complete smooth and silent operation and are small and compact that you can carry it around in the front pocket of your jeans.

Basic Camera Features

Introduced in 1980, the XA2 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. The programmed shutter range is from 2 seconds at f/3.5 to 1/750th at f/14. The film speed range is from ASA 25 to ASA 800.

Olympus XA2, A11 Flash, Front
Olympus XA2, A11 Flash, Front

Olympus XA2, A11 Flash, Top
Olympus XA2, A11 Flash, Top

Olympus XA2, A11 Flash, Back
Olympus XA2, A11 Flash, Back

Olympus XA2, A11 Flash, Bottom
Olympus XA2, A11 Flash, Bottom

Olympus XA2, Film box
Olympus XA2, Film box

The XA2 is available in four body colors - urban white, heart red, blue, and a special commemorative pink, which is very rare, and 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 XA2 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 put the camera into focus. Focusing distances are 1.5-meters, 3-meters, and infinity.

Olympus XA2, A11 Flash

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.

Film ISO Range

The camera will accept films with 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 XA2 can only be fitted with the proprietary XA series camera flash units. The XA2 was sold with the A11 flash unit as a package but will also work with the A16.

Viewfinder Readout

Olympus XA 2, Viewfinder readout

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, signaling 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.


The Olympus XA2 uses a pair of the standard LR44 1.5V. batteries to operate. The clamshell cover powers off the camera completely when it is closed, save 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 XA3 and XA4.

Early Images

My first outing with the Olympus XA2 was on a very bright and sunny morning, and again, as I have done with the XA4, 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.

#CameraReview Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With 01
#CameraReview Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With 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.

#CameraReview Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With 03
#CameraReview Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With 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.

#CameraReview Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With 01
#CameraReview Olympus XA 2, Getting Started With 02

Though not as 'Grab-and-Go' as the Olympus XA1, which I liked very much as a hipster shooter, the XA2 is very much a camera to be considered if you are more serious about getting a camera which should suit you well with the basic genres of film photography.

Olympus XA2 Instructions: Click here to download from www.buktus.org

Film Camera Sale, Malaysia:

35mm Olympus Compact Film Cameras

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