kaseycarroll asked: i just traded my friend a digital lens so that i could touch up on my actual knowledge for manual use of film and he gave me the olympus xa2! i was just wondering if you have any general tips on using the camera. i don't have a flash either and am just nervous on indoor shots (i have 800 film in and a few 400 rolls awaiting). i'm just very nervous to fuck up my pictures since it'll be my first roll! haha if you have ANY tips that would be amazing!
The XA2’s a great camera - sort of a high-quality, much more affordable alternative to the Lomo LC-A. A few things I’ve learned from mine:
When you’re taking photos, especially in low light and/or with slower film, keep your ears open for the sound of the shutter. It actually makes two sounds: a click when it opens, and a click when it closes. In bright light, this happens so fast it sounds like a single sound, but as it gets darker you can start to hear the individual clicks. Make sure to hold still and keep the camera stable until you hear the second click to keep blur to a minimum. Since the XA2 is all automatic, it’ll hold the shutter open as long as it thinks it needs to (up to a point) in dark settings, so there might be several seconds between the two clicks if it’s dark enough.
The XA2 uses zone focusing, the “guess the distance” sort of method. There are three focus settings, the middle of which is the default. It’s good for most medium-distance shooting in normal light. Then there’s a close-up setting and a distant setting. In daylight, you’ll normally be using the middle setting, since the camera will be using a small aperture and your depth of focus will be large as a result. In fact, every time you close and reopen the clamshell cover, the XA2 resets to the middle focus setting.
The manual gives a range of focus for each of the three notches, which is sort of a guide (especially in daylight). Specifically, the three notches focus at 4 feet, 8.9 feet, and 42 feet. In bright light, there will be a fairly wide range both closer and farther than those distances where everything will be acceptably sharp, due to the use of small apertures. In lower light, the depth of focus will get smaller as the aperture gets larger, so it gets a little trickier in darker settings. You’ll learn as you shoot with the XA2 how the focus range varies with the light.
Zone focusing isn’t super-precise, but the trade-off is that you can guess the distance and point & shoot very quickly, especially in bright light when the depth of focus will be large.
Don’t forget to set the ISO setting under the lens to match your film’s ISO rating.
To test the XA2’s battery, flip the little lever on the bottom to the first dot. If the battery’s good, it’ll sound a tone. Flip the lever all the way out to use the self-timer.
Those are some general tips. The XA2’s a fairly simple camera in terms of controls and settings, so it’s just a matter of learning the camera’s nature and how it changes depending on the amount of light and film speed. It’s a really fun shooter that’s capable of great, sharp results despite its size and simplicity. Most important thing is to have fun! :)