The Olympus Mju 9010 is a power-packed compact camera that is priced competitively as a compact zoom camera. But will all these powerful specs make the Mju 9010 an outstanding camera? Our point and shoot test will answer that soon enough.
Olympus Mju 9010: Features
The Olympus Mju 9010’s most attractive feature is its 10x wide angle lens (28mm-280mm). It boasts of built-in “DUAL IS” image stabilisation and a 14Mp CCD sensor with an aperture size ranging from f3.2 (W) - 5.9(T). Olympus’s own TruePic III processor takes care of the image processing. The Mju 9010 came with a 2.7-inch LCD screen and it has neither optical nor optical viewfinder. It can record 720p HD movie and also has a 1cm macro mode. Among the many features that it came with, the built-in 2GB of memory apart from support for SD/SDHC, USB-charging support and HDMI-out deserves mentioning. The camera also came with a handy built-in manual.
The camera has iAUTO mode, AF Tracking, 14 scene modes, Magic Filter (Pop, Pinhole, Fisheye, Sketch) for creative imaging, Beauty Mode, and In-Camera Panorama.
Olympus Mju 9010: Design and Usability
As in the previous Mju-series, the Olympus Mju 9010 has a stylish compact black metallic body with a plastic silver colour strip covering the edges on the top and at the bottom.
The dual colour version reviewed here wasn’t the most compact and sleek digital camera due to its 10x optical zoom lens but is still pocketable. The Olympus Mju 9010 has a good build quality and it also looks quite classy. The body with the battery weighs 171 grams which is still portable enough.
The lens protrudes the moment you switch on the Olympus Mju 9010 and the top has a raised shutter release button and a flushed power switch, which are well placed and easy to use. The back has a 2.7in LCD screen and all the controls stacked up on the right. The top right has a zoom rocker and a one-touch video recording button below. Below this is a playback button and one interesting feature is that this button can be configured to power on the device just to view the images without having the lens coming out. Olympus took a new turn for the Mju 9010 menu navigation and controls by employing a scroll dial instead of the usual mode dial and 4-way directional pad. This made changing from one shooting mode to another easy but it also moves way too freely which the sluggish menu couldn’t keep up with. This scroll dial also acts as the regular 4-way directional pad. Below the scroll dial is the menu button and a help/built-in manual shortcut key.
There is nothing that would cause concern when it comes to control placement but we’d have liked to see more dedicated shortcuts to make things easier. The camera feels good in the hands and the grip is satisfactory. However, the lack of dedicated shortcuts is a big problem. For example, we had to press the button at least five times to get to exposure setting and seven for ISO which was really annoying when we needed to quickly change those basic settings.
The interface is simple and for each feature and function, they are clearly labeled, but here again the lack of dedicated shortcuts hampered usability. The built-in help manual is very handy and we wished other manufacturers follow this step as well.
Olympus Mju 9010: Performance
The Olympus Mju 9010 took 1.8 seconds to boot up which is quick enough. However, the operational speed is a little slow. This was more noticeable while navigating using the scroll dial, there was a little delay between the time we pressed the scroll dial button and what change it showed on the screen. This made using the camera a bit annoying especially as shooting requires making frequent changes to the settings. Besides, the camera does not operate silently and the lens mechanism makes noise while switching on and when using the zoom function. Zooming in and out happened quickly as the lens mechanism is very sensitive to the rocker. So, you need to pay close attention to how long you hold the zoom rocker while zooming in and out. Shutter lag is average at 0.49 seconds, so the camera is not our first choice for moving subjects and is best suited for shooting still subjects. Shot to shot time without flash in good lighting took 5.5 seconds and 5.9 seconds with flash which is below average for a camera in this range. The high speed 2 shooting mode has a burst speed rate of 8.5 fps but only at 3Mp.
Focusing in good lighting happened fairly quick though in low light the Mju 9010 failed many times. The dual IS system worked efficiently though, even toward the end of the tele, it let us capture images at very reasonable sharpness. Images showed good sharpness at and around the centre whereas corner softness was visible. Chromatic aberrations were not a big issue as even in bright areas they were hardly visible. The slight barrel distortion was seen but not noticeable enough to ruin the image quality.
Colours taken from our outdoor shots were well balanced but the sharpness of the details was just average. Noise did creep in darker areas but at acceptable levels. ISO 64 to ISO 200 still produced acceptable result but images at ISO 400 lost great detail due to the noise reduction effect. In low light, the camera performed best in night mode where the shutter speed is fixed at 4 seconds and at low ISO setting. This at least let us to get some nice shots as compared to shooting in iAUTO mode. However, while comparing with the other compact zoom cameras we tested, images looked a little soft and noise presence was a little more than what we expected. Colors also did not show great dynamic range and they looked rather dull when compared to what we captured with the Panasonic ZR1 or even the Samsung ST550. Super macro mode worked fine and flash exposure was good and its red-eye reduction system worked fine.
The panorama mode is not as good as Sony’s Seep Panorama with the camera capturing at a rather quick speed which is hard to keep up with while sweeping. Videos were recorded in 720p at 24 fps. Clips looked okay with average sharpness and details and optical zoom is available only while filming with the sound disabled. In short, the Olympus Mju 9010 won’t impress much with its video capability.
The battery lasted us for 153 shots with 10 minutes of shooting in HD video which is average.
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