Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

Sometimes I don't understand marketing strategies at all. I have, sitting in front of me, two digital cameras; the Olympus mju 1010 and mju 1020, which were both launched at the same time in January this year. Both models have 10.1-megapixel sensors, 7x zoom lenses equivalent to 37 - 260mm, 2.7-inch 230k TFT LCD monitors, optical image stabilisation and the usual mju series weatherproof bodies. They look almost identical, except that one has a semi-matt finish to its black bodywork, the other is gloss. Even a close examination can reveal no difference between the two models. Indeed, they even share the same manual.

In fact there is only one tiny difference in the specification; the mju 1010 has a "HyperCrystal LCD with a bright display even in brilliant sunlight", while the 1020 has a "HyperCrystal II LCD with extra bright display even in brilliant sunlight". Clearly that addition of the word "extra" makes all the difference, because the mju 1010 costs £180, while the 1020 is £196. That's just over £3 a letter.

Having tried both cameras in the closest equivalent to brilliant sunlight that we're likely to get here in England, I can say with confidence that there's absolutely nothing wrong with the HyperCrystal Mk I display on the mju 1010. Consequently this review is based on the less expensive mju 1010 model, since there seems little point in paying seven percent more for such a trivial advantage. I really don't see the point of producing two distinct models when the difference between them is so slight.

The Olympus mju series of luxury compact cameras is unique. No other series of cameras successfully combines high performance and elegant styling with weatherproof robustness. There are some other weatherproof cameras, such as the unfortunately-named Fujifilm Big Job, although that's really aimed at industrial applications. Pentax has its waterproof W-series, but there hasn't been a new model in that range for over a year, leaving Olympus as the sole purveyor of cameras for anyone who's taste in recreational activities includes a lot of splashes.

The mju 1010 is an impressive camera straight out of the box. It has a slim all-aluminium body with some nice styling touches to its chrome detailing. My review sample is an attractive matt black and grey two-tone finish, but it is also available in blue or silver. Ultra-compact lenses with longer zoom ranges are becoming more popular, and the mju 1010 is equipped with an impressive f/3.5 - 5.3 7x zoom lens that folds very flat, although not quite as flush to the body as the Ricoh R8. It is quite a compact camera, measuring 99 x 56.3 x 25.2 mm including the lens, and quite light too, weighing only 135g minus the battery. Incidentally, does anyone know why camera weights are always quoted minus the battery? It's not like you can use the camera without the battery, so why not include it? The mju 1010 uses a fairly chunky 925mAh Li-ion battery that weighs 20g, for a total of 155g.

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