Experience & Review: Olympus Mju

The Olympus MJU, Stylus, µ or whatever you want to call it, is the older brother of the much fapped over MJUii. It’s a fully automatic compact that was introduced in 1991. It is an obvious evolution of the Olympus XA series of cameras, with its clamshell design and small form factor. It is in keeping with Maitani’s creation, showing off a tasty lens inside of a pocketable design. The lens is a fixed 35mm f/3.5, with 3 elements in 3 groups, and to my eye, it makes lovely images. The auto-focus I found to be spot on, and in my opinion (it probably isn’t) it was much faster to use than the MJUii. This might be down to the easily depressed shutter button, which allows you to lock the active multi-beam autofocus with ease. It has a huge range of over 100-steps, and It didn’t slip down any of them!

I bought this camera during an eBay binge, while I was waiting to travel back to my hometown. When I got there, all of my eBay goodies arrived at once, and I threw open the parcels like it was Christmas in the middle of July. I was looking forward to reviewing this camera, as I had a lot of fun playing with it back at home. I bought quite a few compacts, with the intention of reviewing them, before selling them on to fund future projects (I actually bought two of these cameras for the price of half of one on Taobao). The version shot in this video is the gold trimmed ‘PANORAMA’ version, which was released in 1992.

Although slightly bigger than an MJUii, this camera slipped in and out of my pocket with ease, and I actually found it much more ergonomically satisfying to shoot. It has a large shutter button, that locks focus with a half press, and thumb groove in just the right place for my gangly fingers. Some form of textured grip is the only way to improve this, and that’s only if you are a sweaty beast like myself.

The MJU is DX coded from 50-3200 and lacks any user controls besides a self-timer and flash modes. So, if you are going to shoot anything expired, or over expose rolls, you’re going to need to hack the coding. The shutter runs from 1/15 to 1/500 of a second, and I found it more than suitable for capturing images in various lighting conditions on a roll of ISO200 film.

My main gripe with the camera, as with the MJUii, is the over active flash. This needs to be turned off every time that shell slides open. It fires at rather odd times, and unless set to fill-in, can be a little overbearing. The view finder was also easily steamed by my monster brows, which made it seem smaller than it is. The panorama lines are actually really great for framing a shot, but to be honest the Panorama mode itself seems a little redundant given you can easily crop an image to fit the aspect ratio that it creates.

To summarise, I am not sure why the MJUii commands such a high price tag in comparison. Out of the cameras I am going to sell once reviewed, at the moment, this is not one of them. I really do have that much fun with it. It’s quick, easy and in the hands of someone less sweaty, a fantastic compact point and shoot.


Olympus Mju + Kodak Gold 200:

*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 (unless, as in this case, I move to a new apartment and have no time to get some), 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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