About a Camera… again!

Yes, this is again about one of my three remaining cameras. About the smallest of them and the one I took most of my preferred photos with.

The glorious Olympus XA2151208 - Ilford HP5 - Olympus XA2 - 008

Of course I could go on about it’s great, sharp lens. About it’s very accurate exposure system.

But the XA2 is not about that. The Olympus XA2 is about one thing: It’s (for me) the perfect, invisible camera!

And it is invisible in two ways.

First, people hardly notice it. It’s small, unobtrusive, it’s nearly noiseless and it’s fast to take a snap. If you pre-set the focusing distance, that is.170927 - Olympus XA2 - Kodak T-max 400 (28)

For me it’s the ideal street photography camera. And more so as it’s incredibly tiny and fits in virtually any pocket… even my tight jeans in a pinch.

But as I said, it’s main advantage is that people do not notice it! Even at close quarters, they barely can hear the shutter click. Just don’t make hasty movements when lifting it to your eye and you’re good to go.

I usually carry it in my right hand, the strap wound around my wrist, at chest height, just under my chin. This allows me to get it up to working altitude in no time at all with a minimum of movements that could alert my ‘victims’. When I expect slow exposure times, I support the XA2 with my left hand but I try to avoid that.170901 - Olympus XA2 - Lomo Lady Grey (36)-2

The second way this camera is invisible is that it functions in an entirely transparent way to me. Setting the focus distance to one of the 3 settings is done by reflex. I tend to flip the slider well in advance, according to the shots I expect to take. A tight street, people moving about… set it to 3m. Open space, wide vistas, it clicks to the upper, infinity setting. One the rare occasions when I expect to be closer, down it goes to the 1,2m setting.161014 - Fomapan 100 - Olympus XA2 - 004

This happens well before I take a shot, so all I have to do is to raise the camera and touch the shutter button.170901 - Olympus XA2 - Lomo Lady Grey (4).jpg

Of course it’s not a perfect camera. It’s got a maximum shutter speed of 1/750 second, it has this dismal close focusing distance of 1,2m…. But those are things I easily forgive it.170901 - Olympus XA2 - Lomo Lady Grey (2)

Because it just works for me. It’s a really trouble free experience to go out with this camera and just get in the mood. To enter that twilight zone where there’s just you, the camera and potential subjects…. 75

And if you don’t have the time to raise the camera to your eye or if you don’t dare…. there’s always the shot from the hip.

The Olympus XA2, the small camera that can!

Thanks for reading!

14 thoughts on “About a Camera… again!

  1. It admit it is indeed a nicely designed and cute little camera. I have one myself and of course wouldn’t sell it ;). However, it was designed as a consumer camera for the non-technical minded market. As such its design means that it has its limitations for use in street photography where things tend to be moving a little faster than they used to in the past. Having said that, it depends very much on how you take pictures, what you take pictures of, at what distance and what you’re happy with.

    It’s main problem is its lack of manual control over exposure. As it’s an aperture priority camera, exposure is controlled by available light. But then you can’t change the aperture setting either because it is programmed exposure. The only control over exposure you have is the ISO setting and the zone setting. The 1/750 shutter speed is at the far end of its capability and, in the absence of manual control over shutter speed, will only work when the aperture is fully stopped down at f/14 which (lacking manual controls again) will only take place in very bright sunlight. In practise this means that exposures made in the street especially in northern winter light may not be sufficient to freeze movement without blur, especially at close quarters. That leaves you with push processing.

    As the meter circuits are always live when the door is open the electrics are designed to shut down after a while to conserve batteries, so you have to close and open the door again. When you close the door it resets the camera to default zone so if you want anything else you have to change it. This can slow you down. The shutter release button is also a little too recessed and in a busy street where you can’t hear the click, in my experience you’ve no reassurance that you got the shot at all.

    It’s a nice camera though, hang on to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sure there’s a definite lack of exposure control, but I usually rely on the film’s capacity to manage quite some over, and a bit of underexposure. Then again I found that the XA2 handles most situations very well. I even got some shots into the sun that still show nice detail in the foreground.

      I find I can trust it more often than not.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Frank I really love reading about photographers who have found a camera that just works for them, and use their experience with it (and with photography in general) to get around the few shortcomings that any camera inevitably has. Invisible is the way forward!

    Liked by 3 people

      • The trick I think is the balance – finding a total number of cameras you’re comfortable owning and using, and each of then being invisible enough that you’re not encumbered out in the field trying to use it.

        In a way I think if we look for one perfect camera I think it can make us buy more and more because we can find some flaw or other in every one we try.

        But maybe if we allow ourselves say six cameras total, that gives is a bit space to find six that are equally enjoyable (and invisible) to use, but across the range of them collectively offer a bit of variety and reach.

        I think this is what I’m drifting towards.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I do not think that there exists such a number. You can have exactly as many cameras you can reasonable justify to have.

        Unless you are of course a collector. Then there is no upper limit.

        I met few months ago with a guy who was selling off the collection of his deceased friend. He had around 2500 cameras.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have an XA and an XA2 and during Operation Thin the Herd I’ve already decided to keep the XA. I really don’t also need the XA2 then! But then I read your post and daggone it you’re right about this camera, right down the line, and now I’m thinking maybe there’s room here for both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Or Jim you just set your XA up at the point and shoot settings Olympus helped us out with by colouring them orange (I think it’s 3m on the focus scale and f/5.6) and use it like the XA2 but with the benefit of the superior lens… 🙂

      I always think of the XA2 like this, Olympus just used the optimum settings of the XA as the default settings for the XA2 that followed.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve had two XA2s, and one XA. The XA2s have a great lens. But the XA was certainly noticeably superior – when everything else fell into place. But, a sharp lens isn’t everything… 🙂 I found the XA2 easier to get on with, and more “invisible”. The focusing alone of the XA I found difficult – hence using it pretty much fixed at 3m like I suggested to Jim.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Use both, love both. Just to add to confusion and to satisfy my
    G. A. S? I also love my XA3. Very similar to the XA2. Now I need an XA4 to complete the set. (maybe an XA1 for Completeness). I also have a 35 rc and trip, but these see less use than the XA’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Forget the XA1…. silly thing! The XA4 does focus much closer but it’s hard to hit the right setting.

      And then you’ll have to consider the different colors the XA series came in, black, white, red and blue…. but all very rare except the black ones.

      Like

  5. I was looking for a long time for a take anywhere, easy to carry MF film cam, and last year I got the Fuji GF670W. Love this camera and it is in whatever bag I have with me everyday.

    Liked by 2 people

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