Olympus mju 1060 (Olympus Stylus 1060) is strong, simple and stylish, but is the price too high?
The Olympus mju series of premium compacts includes a number of models that are weatherproof, and some that are fully waterproof and shockproof, but not all the cameras in the range have these benefits. The new Olympus mju 1060 (Olympus Stylus 1060 in the US) is a very well made camera with a strong all-metal body, but it is no more weatherproof than any other normal digital camera.
The mju 1060 is quite expensive, but it does have an impressive specification. It features a 10-megapixel sensor with mechanical sensor-shift image stabilisation, a 3in 230k dot LCD monitor with a wide angle of view and automatic brightness adjustment, and a 7x optical zoom lens with a focal length range equivalent to 37 – 260mm. It is available in black, silver or teal, a sort of dark blue/green.
The body design is very slim and sleek. It has a wedge shape, thinner on the left end, and slips easily into a pocket or handbag. That big monitor screen does mean that the controls are a little cramped, but the buttons are quite large and are internally illuminated, making it much easier to operate the camera in dark conditions. The main mode dial doubles as a thumbgrip, and the camera feels solid and secure in the hand.
The 1060 is a point-and-shoot ultra-compact designed for social snapshot photography, and so it is mostly very simple and easy to use. It has a very limited range of options, with some common features notable by their absence, such as a two-second self-timer or any sort of colour control. The quick function menu only offers white balance, ISO, drive mode, metering mode and picture size/quality, and the main menu doesn’t offer much more.
Speaking of menus, although it was previously thought to be impossible, Olympus has actually managed to make its already unwieldy and over-complicated main menu system even worse, by adding some slow and jerky animations, ugly 3D icons in a choice of three colours, and a selection of very dull backgrounds, while missing the one obvious possible improvement. There is no option to use your own picture as a background.
The mju 1060 starts up in a little under two seconds, which is nice and fast, and powers down just as quickly. The autofocus system is both fast and accurate in good light, but it slows down considerably in lower light conditions. It has problems focusing even in a room fairly well lit by a 60W lamp. It also lacks an AF assist lamp, so it can’t focus at all in darker conditions.
This is odd, since Olympus does advertise the camera’s low-light abilities, especially its 6400 ISO maximum sensitivity. In practice the 1060 has major problems in most social situations such as pubs and clubs, and is much better suited to outdoor snapshots, where its 7x zoom lens and 260mm-equivalent telephoto become much more useful.
In terms of picture quality, the mju 1060 acquits itself well. White balance, exposure metering and colour reproduction are all excellent, and even dynamic range is better than some rival compacts. The lens records a high level of detail, without much barrel distortion, although corner sharpness could be better. Image noise too is well handled, with good image quality at ISO 400 and accurate colour balance at all ISO settings, although the 3MP only 3200 and 6400 ISO settings leave a lot to be desired.
Although it is quite expensive, the Mju 1060 offers superior build quality, stylish appearance and simplicity of use, combined with very good image quality.