I just found this camera in a box of old camera stuff. I saw something else online about the series of cameras Olympus made back in the early 80’s, so I put some batteries in and thought I’d test it out. The model I have, the XA2, is a lower end model, without precise focusing.

It comes with a 35mm f3.5 D-Zuiko lens, made in Japan. The XA has a 35mm f2.8, rangefinder focusing, and aperture priority auto exposure. So the XA2 is basically the 1981 version of a point and shoot.

ISO (called ASA at the time) is set by a small lever below the lens on the front of the camera. The XA3 added DX automatic film speed sensing.

To the left of the lens, you see a small knob that slides up and down to set, what I will call, proximity focus. It has 3 distinct settings, or zones. So, you can use the close-up (presumably for head shots – say, between 1.2 and 1.8 meters), or normal (for anything that’s not close or far, beyond 1.2 meters, up to 6.3 meters), or distance for near infinity shots (mountains, scenery beyond 6.3 meters). The instruction book, undoubtedly gave more ideas of what these settings mean, but it’s generally pretty forgiving since the 35mm lens has a large depth of field. We’ll see how well it works in my sample photos.

There’s a small yellowish light, inside the viewfinder, that blinks if a good exposure is not possible – however, nothing prevents you from taking the shot.

Below are a few of my shots with this camera – mostly city shots around Austin. Focus is extremely good, and exposure is generally good – if anything, some seem a bit overexposed, but they look very nice for a camera I dug out of my “old stuff” box after almost 40 years!

So, if you have a chance to shoot with one of these miniature Olympus XA cameras, this is what you can expect. One more camera on my list of film cameras tested in the 21st century.

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