World´s Best Camera


Caveat: there´s no such thing like the world´s best chunk of cheese. Mainly male humans tend to claim that their car / smartphone / beer / <insert your favourite toy here> is the very best of the universe. Enter that race if you like to, but please take this page with a grain of salt. It doesn´t make any sense at all to proclaim the world´s best camera, I believe. There´s a zillion photographic situations which may favor a zillion different types of cameras. The best camera usually is the one that´s at hand when something amazing happens in front of your eyes.

 

 

Surprise, surprise! Yes, the Olympus XA 2 may well be my choice if I was asked about which is the world´s best camera. This tiny black box was my friend for years and years, and to be honest, I didn´t really notice it. It simply was there, everywhere, anytime. And it worked. It simply worked. Slide the cover open, choose one of a hulking three distance zones, aim at the subject, shoot. Got it.

This little marvel was so cleverly designed that it delivers a usable image in 99% of all situations. Heck, it´s smaller than a cigarette pack, and doesn´t cause cancer. It even has a tripod socket and a self timer. The shutter is so silent that nobody will notice. Its electronic trigger needs the slightest bit of pressure you can imagine. And if you are absolutely demanding, you can compensate for tricky lighting with the ISO adjustment lever. It works!

My father introduced me to photography and darkroom work, so I learned about the secrets of aperture and shutter speed as a kid. But during my university years I didn´t care too much about photography. I only wanted to document interesting moments from time to time, and that´s what the XA 2 did perfectly. Only when our first son was born, my wife thought we needed a "real" camera. So we went to the city and and bought what the trustworthy vendor recommended (those were the days when the internet was young). It was a Nikon F50 (N50 in the US). That´s what started the whole mess for me again, but that´s another story.

Here´s a wonderful site about the Olympus XA cameras.

 

 

REAL photographers preferred its smarter brother, the Olympus XA. This is a true rangefinder camera. You must adjust the correct distance to get a sharp image. This is done by aligning two tiny square spots in the (not too big either) viewfinder. And you must choose an appropiate aperture. The camera´s light meter joins in with the adequate shutter speed, so this clever box runs in "A" mode if you insist. The lens is a unique optical masterpiece. Today the smartphones laugh at it, but back in those days the lens was unbelieveably small yet very sharp and contrasty.

I have tried this "micro two-thirds" camera with a couple of films, but much to my regret I still prefer the XA 2. A camera like this must do everything on its own, I think. If you want to take control of everything the logical consequence looks more like this:

 

 

Some people believe that this may as well be the world´s best camera. Here´s a bref review:

 

Click on thumbnail to download a legible version.