I picked up and Olympus XA2 compact camera whilst buying a collection of other cameras, it’s a camera I’ve always wanted to try being a street photographer.

The first thing the strikes you when you pick it up is its size, it’s tiny. The second thing is its weight, it’s surprisingly heavy for its size. It is of good quality solid metal construction with a plastic sliding clamshell covering and protecting the lens. It feels comfortable in your hands and it really does fit into your pocket.

Here are its statistics:

Lens: 35mm f/3.5, four element Zuiko, front element focus lens. Focus: three zone manual. Resets to mid-distance when clamshell is closed. Metering: Center weighted, program auto. ISO: 25 to 800. Shutter: 1/500 – 2 seconds. Aperture integrated with the two shutter blades. Power: 2 S76 cells. Size: 2.598″ x 4.102″ x 1.605″ HWD Weight: 7.480 oz., (212.1g) with two S76 cells.

I’ve been meaning to visit Hull, the city of culture 2017, for quite a while not having been for around about 15 years, I wanted to see how it had changed. So off I went with the little Olympus XA2 to put it through its paces. I loaded a roll of Ilford Delta 400 and rated it at 320 ASA/ISO in the camera.

There are 3 focus positions to choose from, mountain which will focus at infinity, full body (self explanatory)  and head and shoulders… you get it. When you slid the lens cover (clamshell) open its default focus position is always full body and exposure is always automatic, so choosing which focus you want to use is all you have to worry about.

The shutter is virtually silent which is great for working on the streets. You wind on to the next frame manually using a wheel just like you do on disposable cameras. This was not the best experience for me but it did feel solid.

The Olympus XA2 metering system is center weighted. Program auto with an ASA / ISO range from 25 to 800. It works really well in fact I would say it’s fantastic and could put some other metering systems on the market to shame, it never missed a beat.

For me it’s all about the image quality in other words the quality of the lens and I have to say it’s a little beauty. The Zuiko lens is sharp with great contrast capturing detail with superb tone. Its performance is fantastic and is a gem to use. I will definitely be using this little beauty a lot more from now on.

Film was developed in ID11 at 400 asa /ISO 1+1 at 20 c for 13 minutes. I scanned the negs with a Plustek Opticfilm 120 scanner.

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