I've been looking around for a small pocketable film camera for those days when I'm scooting about the back roads on my motorcycle and I don't want to be burdened with a camera bag over my shoulder. A few weeks back I stumbled on a little Olympus XA 2. The form factor is just what I wanted and I liked that it has a sliding lens cover instead of a cap. Without knowing a whole lot about this little camera I snapped it up.
This style of camera is really different for me. I tend to use my cameras primarily in full manual mode. That's not even possible on the XA 2. The only exposure control it has is the ASA (ISO) setting. The aperture and shutter speed are determined by the meter. There is no precise focus control - only a 3 position switch with icons for portrait, group, and landscape. The viewfinder is a simple window with a frame line. No through-the-lens composition here. I'm giving up a lot of control and that's outside my comfort zone. This will be an interesting and challenging camera!
The shutter button is kind of unusual on this little camera. It isn't a button so much as a pressure sensitive area. I thought it felt odd at first. The nice thing is that I had no trouble activating it even with motorcycle gloves on. One thing that is kind of annoying about the camera's operation is that when the sliding lens cover is closed the focus distance resets to the middle "group portrait" setting. That behavior got me more than once!
My XA 2 came with a flash and the original case. The flash is neat in how it attaches to the side and blends right in. I don't intend to use it so I removed it right off the bat. I intend to use this camera mostly during the day as a snapshot tool on my little motorcycle journeys and I won't need the flash for that sort of stuff. While it is all lightweight plastic, the XA 2 doesn't feel cheap. I've already had it out for a test run and the results are impressive. Photos taken with this little gem will be coming up in the next post.