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As the inevitable and largely pointless megapixel race continues, the latest to join the front runners is Olympus with the launch of the mju 1000, a stylish and weatherproof 3x zoom compact featuring a 10-megapixel sensor.
The mju series, which currently consists of eleven models, has proven to be very popular, particularly with more adventurous users for whom the ability to withstand rain, dust, snow, spray and in some cases even full immersion in water are major selling points.
The mju 1000, while not fully immersion waterproof, offers protection “equivalent to the IEC standard publication 529 IPX4”, which in plain English means it’s resistant to water splashed from any direction, so it’s ok to use it in the rain or at a particularly sweaty rave (ugh!), but it’s probably not a good idea to use it in the bath.
It has a very strong stainless steel body, so while it’s not specifically claimed to be shockproof (as a couple of other cameras in the mju range are) it can certainly survive a few more knocks than most compact cameras. The lens retracts fully into the camera body, and the overall shape is very smooth and sleek, like a thin wedge with rounded-off corners, so when switched off it presents a very slim and pocket-friendly profile. It measures 97 x 56.2 x 22.7mm and weighs only 140g (minus the battery) so you’ll hardly know you’re carrying it.
It’s certainly a very pretty camera. The brushed steel and chrome finish will stay looking good for a long time, and it does feel nice in the hand. The control layout is simple and uncluttered. The controls are sensibly positioned leaving room to grip and operate the camera securely in one hand, useful if you’re using the other to hang on to a ski lift. The controls are quite small however, so operating them while wearing gloves could be a problem. I found that the slightly protruding position of the mode dial, while providing a handy rear thumb grip, did make it quite easy to accidentally jog the camera into a different mode.
The LCD monitor is 2.5in with a resolution of 230,000 pixels, which seems to be fast becoming the standard for top-end compacts. It’s certainly nice and sharp, although its highly reflective finish makes it difficult to see in bright sunlight.
The build quality is excellent, comparable with the best of Canon’s IXUS range. It is priced at £260 on the high street, but shopping around online you can find it for a little under £220, which compares well with other 10MP compacts such as the Pentax Optio A20 (£194), Casio EX-Z1000 (£225), Samsung NV10 (£226), Sony Cybershot DSC-N2 (£263) and Canon IXUS 900 Ti (£267).