Olympus is arguably the most versatile of all the camera manufacturers. The 32 models that currently comprise its ever-changing range covers everything from cheap compacts to professional-quality digital SLRs, and includes powerful super-zoom models, rugged waterproof cameras and expensive premium compacts. As one of the original Big Five camera companies Olympus has a long pedigree, and over the years it has developed a reputation for innovation and style.
In its compact camera range that style is embodied in the mju series. The first mju cameras were innovative and extremely popular weatherproof premium compacts, and some of the range still embody this spirit with impressive waterproof, shockproof and freeze-proof capabilities, but these days the mju series is also home to a number of less rugged models, such as this mju 1040, a slim 10-megapixel ultra-compact with a sliding front cover and an internal 3x zoom lens. Even a cursory glance will tell you that this is a camera designed for environments no more rigorous than a shirt pocket or fashionable handbag.
The camera body is mostly metal, although the sliding lens cover, which also doubles as the power switch, is made of plastic. It is an extremely compact and lightweight camera, measuring just 89 x 55.5 x 20.3 mm and weighing 108g minus battery or memory card. The most interesting exterior feature is the unique control panel; instead of the usual buttons and D-pad, the mju 1040 has a metal panel with flexible cut-outs, much like the keypad of a Motorola Razr mobile phone. The panel is internally illuminated, but the light only comes on when a button is pressed. Although it certainly looks very slick and operates smoothly it lacks the tactile feedback of conventional controls, and when not illuminated the labels are hard to read in low light.