Review Price £155.99
In terms of overall performance the mju-7010 has both good points and bad. It starts up in less than 1.5 seconds, which is faster than most, but in single-shot mode, even when using a high-speed H-class memory card, the shot-to-shot time is over three seconds which is pretty slow by current standards. Continuous shooting mode is even worse; in the so-called sequential mode, when using the highest image quality setting it will only take two shots in just under two seconds before stopping to empty the image buffer. This performance can be improved by reducing the image quality, but the higher compression Normal mode only increases the limit to six frames.
More worrying is the battery performance. Although the specification table in the PDF manual claims 300 shots on a charge, I found that the relatively puny 740mAh battery was exhausted after just 120 shots and two short movies, with minimal flash use or playback. Admittedly this was a brand new battery, and Li-ion rechargeables do usually take a couple of charge cycles to reach peak performance, but even taking this into consideration 120 shots is still a very low figure.
The mju-7010 has an illuminated control panel so you can see the buttons in the dark, but it might have been a better idea to put that light on the front of the camera; there's not much point being able to see the controls if the camera isn't capable of taking a picture. The AF system works well enough in daylight, but it gets into difficulty in dim lighting, such as a bar or restaurant., focusing very slowly if at all. Like the mju 9000 the 7010 has no AF assist lamp, so it's pretty much useless in lower light conditions.
Like most 12MP small-sensor compacts the mju-7010 has somewhat limited dynamic range, with poor shadow detail even when using the Shadow Adjustment feature, and it also lacks colour depth and saturation. Another problem I encountered was very inconsistent auto white balance, especially under artificial lighting. It coped reasonably well with tungsten lighting but other types of lighting, including energy-saving bulbs, produced very variable results, with sequential shots of the same scene showing widely varying colour casts.
Despite these performance problems the mju-7010 is capable of producing good quality results under most normal circumstances. Noise control at higher ISO settings is especially good, in fact the noise reduction system seems to have been tuned to produce better results at 400 ISO than at 200. In good light the camera focuses quickly and accurately and exposure metering is up to Olympus's traditionally high standard. The lens also performs well, with excellent centre sharpness and virtually no wide-angle distortion, and the level of recorded detail is excellent.
The mju-7010 is an interesting looking camera with a decent specification. Build quality and finish are of a high standard, it is versatile and easy to use, and it is capable of producing good results in most normal situations. However its poor low light performance, limited battery duration, lack of advanced features and relatively high price make it less appealing in comparison to some very capable rivals.
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