Experience & Review: Olympus Mju II

Having just reviewed a Contax T2, the camera that most people find themselves uncontrollably dribbling over, I was really interested to shoot one of the other cameras that often gets brought up when talking about quality compact cameras – The Olympus MJUii/Stylus epic. It doesn’t have the feature set to claim to be an ‘advanced compact’, but it certainly finds itself edging closer and closer to join them at that end of the table, trying to laugh along with all of their jokes relating to inflated pricing, and hype beasts.

Produced in 1997, it’s a few years younger than the T2. On paper; it’s incredibly small, and considering its plastic, feels pretty well-built. The lens is a 35mm f2.8 and it has 4 elements, in 4 groups. It’s pretty fast and has some outstanding reviews on the internet. The automatic exposure and autofocus are both quick, and reliable. It’s easy to use, weather resistant, and when it was released it won itself a bucket full of awards. In short, it’s a devilishly handsome, well-equipped camera, that can fit into the front pocket of your trousers. The only thing it lacks is the ability to alter the way you expose your images. This camera is going to cook the food, serve it, chew it and swallow it for you.

So, my thoughts on shooting this camera – First, the design is great, it slips in and out of the pocket with ease. It’s discreet (if you get yourself a black one) and is fairly quiet when shooting. The autofocus locks on a half press of the shutter, and this is a proper half press, I was never in fear of wasting frames. The viewfinder is small… like really small. This means that I ended up with a little more than I bargained for in frame when the pictures were developed. I personally don’t see this as a problem (How hard is it to crop in a little?). Inside that little looking glass, there are just two circular lights that tell you all that you need to know. A green dot for go; flashing for a no-no. The orange light will tell you if the flash will fire. It also shows you some parallax lines. That’s it. That’s all you get.

The camera has many flash modes; auto (you’ll get to know this one oh, so well), red-eye reduction, suppressed (great for fill) and a slow-synch up to 4 seconds. The flash needs to be set every time you power on, and this is a little annoying for a forgetful person like me. The flash reminds me of my gimpy three-legged dog. Whenever I stroke one of my cats, or the other dog, she’s there. There at the faintest inkling, she’ll get some attention (in a flash, you could say). That is exactly like the flash on the Olympus MJUii. It cannot wait to ‘help’, and will often have you scratching your head as to why it decided it would be a good idea to fire.

Basically, this is another camera I enjoyed shooting, and I like the look of the images I managed to make. There were millions of these cameras produced, and there was a time when you could buy one for next to nothing. It has all of the elements that encourage many people to make bold claims that this camera is the champ. The world’s greatest. The real mac-daddy of point and shoot cameras. They’ll tell you to forget about a T2, ‘this is the best value for money out there’. But is this really the case? Or Is this just another great camera with an ever-increasing price tag? A quick search on google has brought up many ‘good’ examples of this camera, ranging from 80-200 pounds. 200 POUNDS! So, personally, I’d suggest saving yourself some money. Find one for a steal, steal one or buy one of the much cheaper, similarly featured cameras.

Olympus Mju2 + Fuji C200

*China Camera Style is dedicated to giving an honest, open review of all the cameras that are currently sat on your eBay watch list, or in your Taobao cart right now. Each camera is loaded with a roll of Fujifilm c200, rain or shine. It is always shot in one day, by the same nerd. It’s taken to the same lab, scanned with the same scanner and posted onto the site, as is received (via. Email).

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