© Party Ewoud Nysingh

Olympus XA2 a review

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A little story about how I came to love the XA2. Almost a review, more of a love story.

As some of you might already know, I love everything about point and shoot style cameras. The ease of use, pocketability and rough image quality are just a few things I really like about the cameras. It’s a no-nonsense device that will help you capture memories without having to lug a huge ass camera with you. There are three different types of XA cameras. There is the XA where the operator chooses the film speed, aperture and manually focuses the lens. The second version is the XA2 where the photographer gets to set the film speed and choose the range of focus. The final version is the XA3 This version is similar to the XA2 however has a backlight exposure setting. So, how did I come to love the point and shoot? 

This might be a little bit unfair, but I have an emotional reason to be in love with the Olympus XA2. A tiny point and shoot camera with a cute little mountable flash module. My late grandmother always had this camera on her when she went out the door. Although my grandmother was not a photographer, she loved saving her memories on film. Taking pictures of her trips when she was still capable of travel, and later when she was confined to the city where she lived pictures of her friends’ dinner parties and flowers she liked. 

perfect imperfection

When she passed the camera was there, not being used, sat in its original box waiting to see the light of day again. It was given to me, and I have carried it and used it just like my grandmother used to. I have taken it to parties, taken pictures of my friends and took images of things that caught my eye. Nothing special but the memories it created are worth more than anything I own. So, my bias is real and there is no way anyone can tell me point and shoots are not worth the money. 

The thing that makes the Olympus XA2 such a delight is not insane image quality or amazing features. It is a no-nonsense camera made for daily use. And this is what it does best, the images are never going to be tack sharp due to the lens and the crude zone focus system. However, the quality of the images make it feel as if you were there when the photo was taken even if you weren’t there at all. Alongside the texture of film this camera gives a democratic feel to the images it produces. 

This interchangeability of memories makes every image pop out in his or her way. There is almost no way to ruin an image on this camera. The only defect images can have is that they are boring. Even when photos are over- or underexposed, have motion blur or aren’t sharp they still provoke a feeling of nostalgia and inclusiveness. During get-togethers with friends and family is where this camera shines for me. Capturing my father dropping five roasted hens straight out of the oven is a memory I do not only cherish but also have proof of now. 

I might not take the same images as my grandmother did, however the spirit is the same. All the people and things I hold dear will eventually be captured on film through the lens of this camera. The size makes the XA2 easy to carry and a reason to take with you. It is quite small but does pack a punch with the flash attached. This makes it easy to use in low light situations and gives a cool hard light effect thanks to the small direct light source. 

It’s time to conclude this story. The XA2 is a small package that captures memories in the crudest form possible. I love it. The feeling this little lens puts on celluloid makes me smile every time I look at the images. A XA2 is still fairly inexpensive (for now) so get your hands on one now that they are still available. If you don’t like an XA type camera but do want a different point and shoot fair play. The only reason I love the XA2 so much is because of the emotional baggage it has for me. Any other point and shoot will do, about, the same as my little Olympus. So go out get your hands on a memory machine (camera) and capture moments to keep them in your life forever. 

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