Small, light, and cute.
That is the best three words to describe the Olympus Mju II. It is one of Olympus best selling compact film camera and it sports a rather decent Olympus Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 lens. This camera is probably one of the easiest to find as I saw some new unit being clear off from the local camera store.
I was on the lookout for a bargain compact film camera on the internet and I score this litle gem for less than RM150, complete with strap and remote control. Although the condition of the camera is not in a mint condition but the inside is clean and the light seal seems to be replaced as well. I download the manual online and I was ready to go.
I tested the camera with a few rolls of film and by few I mean more than 10. I tried the camera with some Fujifilm Superia and a Kodak Tri-X and so far, the metering is pretty accurate.
As I mention earlier, this camera is pretty-darn-small. I have a Leica Minilux before and the Olympus is basically half the size of the Minilux!. A small and lightweight camera is actually a sign of a good camera as it encourage you to pick the camera up instead of your bulky DSLR.
I bring the camera almost everywhere and I found that the lens is rather sharp and snappy while the entire camera design is not that threatening when you point the camera up into some stranger face, much less when you compare to the reaction that I usually get with my Nikon D60.
The design is unique as the lens front element is covered by a clam shape design which is similar to the Olympus XA series.
AFTER A COUPLE OF ROLL
I always bring the camera with me for day-to-day basis and while using it, I found some of the camera irritating drawback. The first three would be;
TURNING THE FLASH OFF
1) You need to manually turn off the camera flash everytime you have closed the camera, the Mju II doesn’t memorize your setting and once the clam design slide is close, it will automatically reset every setting on your camera into a default setting. A totally frustrating experience as I accidentally blinded a few people while taking a picture on the street, but once you get used to it, its not much of a nuisance.
NEVER SHOOT ON REFLECTIVE SURFACE
2) The autofocus is an Active multi beam infrared focusing system which work in a similar principal as a Sonar. I learn this in a hard way as I found that some of my picture is out of focus especially those taken thru a glass and mirror. Infrared can easily be reflected and this cause confusion to the autofocus sensor and shooting a self portrait inside a toilet is not a good idea though.
3) What you shoot is not exactly what you will get, and following the frameline inside the viewfinder would really help especially if you are taking picture close to the subject.
AFTER MORE THAN 8 ROLLS OF FILM
I admit it, I take more picture a week with this camera than with my Nikon D60. Its very easy to use and the camera is fully automatic. The only problem with this tiny camera apart from the first two problem that I mention earlier is that the film rewind sound is very noisy, people know that you are taking their picture once they heard the sound. Not a good idea for those who try to be invisible like Henri Cartier Bresson. I don’t have much of a problem while using the camera and I am confident enough to take some picture during my family holiday with the mju II.
The lens is sharp and the contrast is good as well. Those purist might turn this camera down for its triangular shape bokeh and yes, the bokeh is indeed in triangular shape due to its aperture design but it doesn’t bother me much though. The flash performance is rather good with an occasional overexpose scene but much of it is my fault as I get to close to the subject. Metering is pretty accurate as well and there is no manual override to adjust the exposure setting.
Autofocus is pretty much accurate and the good thing with the autofocus design is that it doesn’t affected by the lighting condition. My only advice is that don’t expect the camera autofocus to be in the same level as your DSLR, this camera need some time to get used to and once you are familiar with the camera, using it will be a breeze.
After going through 17 rolls on this camera, It is safe to say that the camera is well suited for most photographer who seek a reliable compact film camera to compliment their huge camera. I found the camera to be interesting and fun to use and suited well for street shooting due to its small size and non-threatening design.
The camera design is very girlish in my opinion and I suggest try to get a black colour Mju II instead of the Champagne gold color, just for the sake of looking manlier.
The camera could be easily found on E-bay and if you happen to destroy this camera, you can easily get another with probably at a lower price. Will I recommend this camera to other people?
YES, the price is not that expensive and it is a good camera for those who wanted to try a film camera without the hassle of manual focusing and manual exposure setting. Be warn though, the camera tend to use flash even in a normal shaded area so always remember to turn it off. (Unless your intention is to blind some random people on the street.)
SOME PICTURE SAMPLE