Another belter from the highly regarded mju range
Olympus Mju Digital series cameras have always maintained good design, weatherproofing and ease of use. The mju 700 is one of the latest additions to the line-up.
The mju’s weatherproofing means that, though not suitable to take in the water, it is ideal for the beach, skiing, or other such activities. This model has a 3in 7.1MP CCD coupled with Olympus’s True Pic Turbo processor. Images are fed from there to an xD card, and I recommend the Hi-speed (coded H) version. The 2.5in LCD features BrightCapture technology for better viewing in low light, and there’s a nice wide ISO range. Olympus also claims a digital image stabilisation mode, but this merely ups the camera sensitivity to allow the faster shutter speeds needed in low light.
With a metal front plate, the camera is let down somewhat by the plastic shell around the back. Nevertheless the camera feels solid and robust. The sleek design is enhanced by a wedge-shaped profile. Most of the buttons are well placed; I like the cross-shaped control pad especially. Unfortunately, the main control dial at the back keeps changing mode whenever the camera is taken out of the pocket.
There is a performance hike when high-speed cards are used – the 7MP sensor produces quite large files and can cause a bottleneck in the buffer, especially in high-speed mode. Otherwise, the camera isn’t a bad performer, with a reasonably quick AF and minimal shutter lag. However, beware extreme low light because the camera might have a high ISO but the autofocus struggles in near darkness.
Exposures are very good, with vibrant colours. Even high-contrast scenes such as the beach proved no problem to the ESP metering. The camera has 23 scene modes including a beach mode for example, but I never resorted to it. I attended a firework display, allowing me to use that scene mode, and I came back with some pleasing handheld shots. The high ISO is useful, though noise is very obvious. At least the technology is improving, but I’m sceptical about the terminology – ‘digital image stabilisation’ is heading into murky territory.
Value For Money
Olympus’s 35mm mju cameras were the bestselling compacts. The mju name commands a premium but offers better build quality, and in this case, good results and useful features and technology. It may be more expensive than similar models, but not overly so. Shop around and it’s even better value.
Though not without its faults, the mju 700 is at the better end of the 7MP market. Images are good and the extended sensitivity is useful. In other ways the features are average, but the camera is stylish and portable and has weatherproofing, making it a good choice for your summer hols.