Olympus MJU 1020
- Crisp pictures, great design, lots of features, 7x optical zoom
- Sluggish burst mode, some colour and exposure issues
Packing in a 7x optical zoom into a slim body Olympus' MJU 1020 is a fantastic all around point and shoot. It takes nice snaps, has a ton of features and looks sensational. Our only major concern is the slow burst mode, which may impact some users.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
Having looked at several models in Olympus' latest refresh of its compact range it has become obvious the improvements are fairly minor. However that is far from a bad thing. Building on the very successful MJU line of stylish, sophisticated point and shoot models, the MJU 1020 is billed as the world's slimmest camera with a 7x optical zoom. It offers the expected combination of good quality pictures, a great design and a ton of nice features to make an attractive overall package.
With a 10.1-megapixel sensor you'd expect some decent photos from the MJU 1020, and for the most part you'd be right. Pictures are fairly crisp with minimal blurring and great resolution. Olympus cameras tend to capture slightly softer shots, without the overly sharp edges produced by algorithms in other models, but that doesn't detract and actually works well for certain types of photography. There was a fair amount of chromatic aberration though, evident in high levels of purple fringing and haloing around areas of high contrast. This is most obvious in outdoor shots with strongly exposed backgrounds.
Colour balance was a little better than we've seen on past MJU models. Olympus has struggled a little with its white balance settings in recent times which is problematic when no custom mode is on offer. On this unit, outdoor shots were nicely balanced with natural hues and nice saturation levels. Indoor shots were still a little problematic but overall we were happy with the well controlled primary colours and accurate skin tones.
We encountered a few exposure issues, particularly with bright skies coming out very strong. There were also some issues taking pictures indoors that contained a window, as everything outside was strongly obscured and overexposed. One thing that helped a little here was the included shadow adjustment technology which brings out detail in shadowed areas and tries to balance multiple exposure levels. It does a decent job, particularly outdoors.
Image noise wasn't a problem at low sensitivities, with ISO 100 and 200 both capturing perfect prints. At ISO 400 the noise ramps up a little but this is totally standard and those shots are still fine for small print sizes. Any more above that we wouldn't recommend to use unless you're not too fussed about a little grain to your shots.
Speed is one area Olympus has made some improvements and the MJU 1020 is a good example of this. It exhibited 0.09 seconds of shutter lag, a very speedy 1.5 seconds startup time and 1.7 seconds between shots. The burst mode, however, is really slow at just one frame a second. It does allow you to shoot with the flash on, but that is far too slow to be truly useful. You can speed it up a ton by reducing the resolution, but this isn't necessarily a good solution.
The feature set is fairly standard for an Olympus compact, that is to say, it is impressive. Aside from the lack of manual white balance, most of the things you'd want are here including dual-image stabilisation (ISO and sensor-shift) and face detect. The simple MJU panorama mode makes a welcome return along with Olympus' guide mode.
Aesthetically, the MJU 1020 continues Olympus' trend of producing the best looking cameras on the market. This model is stunning with the trademark slim, wedge-shaped MJU build and a black and gunmetal colour scheme. It is solidly constructed and feels good in the hands.
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