An often overlooked camera

An often overlooked camera

The Olympus XA was a compact rangefinder camera that has become a cult classic amongst street photographers. But this camera isn't the focus of this blog, I am here to talk about its successor the Olympus XA2.

It was designed to be even more user-friendly with less need to adjust settings before you press the shutter button. This camera is known for its minimalist design, compact design, and exceptional image quality.

As with all the Olympus XA cameras it features a clamshell cover that slides across to cover the lens and act as an on/off switch. This makes it a great pocket companion as you don't need to stress about scratching your lens. 


The Olympus XA2 features a 35mm f/3.5 Zuiko lens and a zone focusing system. Focusing the camera is very similar to the ever famous Olympus Trip 35. It has 3 symbols to choose from for near, mid-range, and infinity focus. 

It also has a built-in light meter powered by two LR44 batteries that ensures accurate exposure in almost all lighting conditions. 

So why could the Olympus XA2 be a great choice over something like the Olympus Trip 35? 

Well there are 3 main benefits. Firstly it's small size makes it perfect for travel, being so compact genuinely means you can fit it in your pocket. The second benefit is the fact that it has a built in self timer, something the Olympus Trip 35 is missing.

Finally and most importantly is the ability to easily attach and use a flash. The standard flash unit was the Olympus A11 which screwed on to the side of the camera. A small switch on the front would turn the flash on and then you can choose between 100 ASA (2.5 meters) or 400 ASA (5 meters). The camera will then take care of everything else!  


The Olympus XA2 was one of the very first cameras I used when I started my film photography journey! Here a few of my favourite photos:

An honourable mentioned

Olympus XA3 

It is worth noting that Olympus released the Olympus XA3 five years after the success launch of the XA2. It is almost identical but it does feature a few upgrades! 

On the base of the camera you will find a switch labelled +1.5, this is for backlight compensation. You would use this if the subject you're photographing has the sun or a light behind them and will help prevent under exposure. 

The other main difference is the addition of DX coding. This means the camera will recognise the roll of film you are using so you don't need to worry about setting the ISO. 

I took an Olympus XA3 to a Christmas market in Nottingham to test how it worked in low light conditions: 

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