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|Olympus Mju Mini Digital - Digital Camera Review|
The camera offers good value for money for an ultra compact digital camera, currently one of the most stylish ultra compact digital cameras available. The camera was announced on the 3rd of September 2004.
Olympus have this to say about the camera:
"Ultra-Compact, Vibrant Styling - A new super smooth streamlined aluminium body and all-weather* design makes the compact µ-mini DIGITAL a must-have! Available in 6 eye-catching colours, this 4 million pixel camera comes with 13 scene programs to make sure you get the best shot in all situations, whether it's a night out at a fireworks display or an unmissable sunset. Keep it with you always and enjoy it."
The Camera: It's very compact and made out of aluminium.
Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic, this camera is a lot smaller
than the Pentax.
Specifications / Features:
Full Specifications can be found on the Olympus site.
Average box contents - A case, and a larger memory card would have been nice. You also get a 2 year warranty! Which is excellent, it's the first time I've seen this on a digital camera, as it is normally only a 12month warranty!
Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the rotating dial on the top of the camera - this switches between Photo, Video and Playback mode.
Photo mode: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown below:
The options are: (top) Exposure compensation, (left) Image size/quality, (bottom) White balance (Auto, Sun, Cloud, Lightbulb, Flourescent), (right) Mode menu. Mode menu has 3 screens: Camera, Card and Setup. In the camera menu the options are: ESP, Drive, ISO, Digital zoom, AF mode, Microphone, Panorama, 2 in 1. The card option is: Format. The photo setup options are: All reset (on/off), Language, PW on setup, Colour (lets you change the menu colours), Speaker, Shutter sound, Rec view, Filename (default is reset!, change to auto so that all pictures have a unique name), Pixel mapping, LCD brightness, Date time, video out.
By pressing the up arrow on the 4-way controller on the back, you get access to the following scene modes: Portrait, Landscape, Landscape and Portrait, Night Scene, Cuisine, Beach and Snow, Self Portrait and Self Timer, Behind Glass, Self Portrait, Indoor, Candle, Sunset, Fireworks.
Video mode: The video mode has the following options: Exposure compensation, Quality, White balance, and mode menu. Mode menu has the following options: Camera, Card and Setup. Camera options are: ESP, ISO and Digital zoom. Card option is Format. Setup options are almost identical to the photo setup options.
Playback mode: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown below:
In playback mode the
options are: (top) Slideshow, (left) Info (changes the amount of information
shown on screen), (bottom) Erase, (right) Mode menu. Mode menu has 4 screens:
Play, Edit, Card, Setup. Play menu options are: Protect, Rotate, Print,
Microphone. Edit options are: Soft focus, Fisheye, Black and White, Sepia,
Resize (these are all applied to the photos after they have been taken).
Card options are: All erase, and Format. The playback setup options are:
All reset (on/off), Language, PW on setup, Screen setup, Colour (lets
you change the menu colours), Volume, Speaker, LCD brightness, Date/Time,
Video out, Thumbnails (number displayed in playback mode).
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures / and the following number of images will fit on the 16mb memory card: (an extra memory card is recommended)
You can't fit very many images on the provided 16mb memory card - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower megapixel settings and higher compression levels. There is a good choice of image size and compression levels available, although no RAW or TIFF mode. If you just wanted to make 6x4 prints, or share your photos with people over the internet then the 2mp setting would be fine.
Speed, ease of use: The camera is easy to use, very quick to switch on and quick to take photos, the controls on the back of the camera are easy to use. The screen updates are quick and smooth. The camera speed in use seems quick when taking a photo, and shot to shot time is quite good, even when using flash. The camera is very compact, and very easily fits into pockets. The menus are easy to pick up and use, and the modes are easy to access (due to there only being photo/video/playback), the menus seem very quick. The continuous shooting mode is quick as well.
Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are easy to use when you get used to them, and they are in a good position, because the camera is so small it may take some time to get used to the design. There seems to be the right amount of buttons - although the zoom control is very small. The swivel mode control is very easy to use, and very stylish. The buttons feel good, they are also labelled very well. The quick view button is very nice, something which all new Olympus cameras should now have.
The buttons on the back of the camera quickly give you access to: Quick View, Wide/Telephoto zoom, Scene, Macro, Flash, Self-timer, and the Menu.
Battery usage: Battery life seems acceptable considering the size of the battery (tiny!), but due to the size of the battery a backup battery is recommended; alternatively you will have to take the charger with you everywhere you go.
LCD Display (Photo mode / Playback mode):
LCD display in photo mode: The screen is very clear, and updates smoothly - the colours appear very accurate. The screen shows how many remaining photos you can take with the available memory, as well as current mode etc, although unfortunately the camera does not show aperture / shutter speed and there is no live histogram. The LCD is also very good viewed from different angles.
Playback mode: The camera can display the full information as shown above, or alternatively a quick summary of the information; this is displayed for about a second or two then dissapears so that you can see the full picture. Scrolling through the photos is very quick. The zoom can be used up to 4x. The playback zoom is very quick. Playback menu options are discussed above.
Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Full size (and medium size) versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!
Inside: The camera has quite a powerful flash, and copes well with group photos. Red eye was noticable on some photos of people. Good colours and details. Some of the images are slightly soft - but this isn't a major issue on this camera. The camera did really really well focusing in dark conditions, even though the camera doesn't have an Auto-Focus assist lamp.
Noise: Noise generally is a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise.
The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and a choice of 4 ISO modes: ISO64, ISO100, ISO200, ISO400. When set to Auto mode, there are additional ISO modes that the camera automatically uses. The camera does a good job of using the lower ISO levels even when using the flash inside.
Noise levels at ISO64, and ISO100 are low - which means you get smooth images. ISO200 can be quite noisy, and ISO400 is where noise starts to become a real problem.
Outside the camera has very good colour, they are accurate, well saturated colours with low noise, I didn't notice jpeg artifacts in the images. This is where I would normally complain about image softness, but images seem quite sharp (not too sharp, and not too soft).
Zoom: This camera has a 2x Optical zoom and a built in 4x Digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below simply to show what these features do.
The digital zoom shows you on screen how much magnification you are using with a yellow bar. It is quite quick. When using the optical zoom, it's quite quiet, and fairly quick, it has about 14 steps between wide and telephoto. The amount of optical zoom isn't displayed on screen numerically, the amount is simply displayed with a bar. The digital zoom can be switched on and off.
Other Image Quality issues: Chromatic Aberrations / Purple Fringing was not noticable in photos.
Macro: When this camera is in macro mode, the lens starts at full wide angle, and you can zoom in - you can also use the flash. The camera also has a super macro mode - whereby the lens is zoomed in fully and you can't use the flash, this allows you to get even closer to the subject than simply using normal macro mode and zooming in. This camera can focus down to roughly 10cm from the subject in macro mode, and roughly 6/7cm in super macro mode.
The macro mode is very good. The camera does a good job of toning down the flash. Colour and detail is very good.
Movie: 320x240 / 160x120 - 15fps with sound - you can use the digital zoom whilst recording a video; you can also zoom in using the optical / digital zoom before you start recording. The movie is recorded as a .MOV file. Length is limited only by the size of the memory card.
The quality of the movie(s) is good - 320 x 240/15fps is fairly average and VGA resolution at 30fps would be ideal.
Summary: The Olympus
Mju Mini Digital / Olympus Stylus Verve is an ultra compact weatherproof
4mp, 2x optical zoom digital camera with a great 1.8" colour screen.
If you want an ultra compact, extremely cool and stylish, weatherproof
digital camera, with a quick response time and want high quality photos
outside, inside, or for macro photos, then this camera is excellent. The
camera can also record unlimited videos with sound. For around £169
(US) from Amazon this camera offers very good value for money. The camera
is available in 6 different colours, so you get to have the camera in
a colour that suits you. I love this camera and HIGHLY recommend it -
I expect it will be VERY popular, and would make a brilliant Christmas
If you would like to save £50, and don't mind a slightly larger camera, then take a look at the Olympus C-470, which has a 3x optical zoom - available for £149 from amazon.co.uk.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Remember to have
a look at the full size (and medium size) versions of these photos in
gallery, or have a look at some more informal photos in the other gallery!