Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Olympus MJU 700
- Great burst mode, Sharp pictures, Low noise
- Colours not spot on
If you need a powerful sensor in a small body, or take a lot of photography in fast moving situations, the MJU 700 is probably for you.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
Olympus' latest range of cameras has generated mixed results for us. We loved the 720SW for its tough design and rugged features, but the MJU 810 did not perform as strongly. The MJU 700 - which sports similar design and functionality to its more robust brother - offers improved performance on the MJU 810.
By seven megapixel standards the MJU 700's pictures are fairly good. It's biggest strength, and the area most Olympus cameras excel, is sharpness. The 1429 score in our Imatest benchmarks indicates extremely clear, crisp pictures, which are suitable for blowing up to A4 and beyond. This was reflected in our test shots, which all bear clean edges with no noticeable blurring. Whilst the chromatic aberration score of .070% has a little impact on this, it really isn't high enough to be a huge problem, and is only barely visible in very specific areas.
Olympus has also managed to complement sharp pictures with a fairly noise free sensor. With a score of 0.48% in our noise test the MJU 700 generally produced smooth, speckle-free shots. At higher ISO levels noise became more prominent, but even at ISO1600 it only scored 1.77% which compares very favourably with some models that score over 1% even at low ISO settings.
Unfortunately, whilst Olympus cameras excel in sharpness, colour representation has been letting us down a little lately. The MJU 700 continues this trend. Nevertheless, with a score of 13.1 on Imatest's Colourcheck, it performed adequately although we'd really prefer the test result to be below 10. We found a visible result of the higher score was an overabundance of yellow which drove all the colours towards the lighter side of the spectrum. It had the biggest impact on reds and greens, but was felt fairly evenly across the entire range of colours.
Features and Performance
The MJU 700's features compare quite favourably to competitors. The camera does not have a full array of manual features but the settings it does have are well fleshed out. ISO level can be taken from 64 all the way to 1600 which is a big step up from the 400 we are used to seeing on this level of camera. The continuous shot mode however was what really blew us away, operating at a massive five frames per second and complementing the high ISO options perfectly. This makes it an ideal model for fast moving photography - capturing every moment of your child's winning football goal is going to be very simple with the MJU 700. The feature-set is rounded out by 23 scene modes, including everything from 'Document' through to 'Auction', a variety of white balance options, and Olympus' wonderful Guide mode, which offers a simple, intuitive way to tweak your pictures without having to navigate complex camera settings.
We found the MJU 700 performed fairly well in our speed tests. It exhibited a shutter operation time of roughly .09 of a second which is a little above average, and startup time was just over two seconds. It was quite quick to write to the memory however, with a shot-to-shot time of about 1.2 seconds on our regular xD memory card.
Battery life was of a similar standard. We managed just over 200 shots on the provided Lithium-Ion battery, which is enough for day-to-day use but certainly isn't a big selling point. We do like the fact that it has a rechargeable battery however, as this should save you money in the long run.
Sporting the same wedge shaped design exhibited by the MJU 810, the MJU 700 is a slightly lighter, thinner model. Our unit came with a jet black face and silver back panel, which coupled with the design, makes the unit look extremely suave. Very few other seven megapixel models come in such a compact and attractive design, so those who want a powerful sensor yet still need the convenience of portability, this camera should definitely be on your shortlist.
With a largely metal body, we had few durability concerns, although the battery cover does feel like a point of weakness. It is important to note this model falls into Olympus' All-Weather lineup of cameras, which means it is suitable for use in stormy, rainy conditions. Whilst it doesn't have the shock and water proof capabilities of the 720SW, it is a happy middle ground for those who regularly shoot outdoors and don't want to panic every time their camera cops a few drops of rain.
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