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Olympus mju 780 - Olympus mju 780
The 780 is a relatively long camera for its height, and the extra length provides plenty of room on the back for the excellent 2.5-in 230k wide-view monitor, and for the eye-catching control layout. The large rectangular buttons and D-pad have illuminated lettering, making the camera easy to operate in the dark. I particularly like this little feature, and I don't think I've seen it before on a compact camera. The controls are very simple and easy to operate, with the four directions on the D-pad operating exposure compensation, flash mode, macro focusing and self timer, and separate buttons for the anti-shake mode and the Shadow Adjustment mode. This feature brightens shadows in high-contrast or backlit situations, but I found that in low-light situations it did so at the cost of vastly increased image noise in the shadow areas. Extra control is provided by a simple on-screen function menu, with white balance, ISO setting, drive mode and metering mode quickly adjustable with just a couple of button presses.
The main mode dial doubles as a thumbgrip, which is a good thing because it doesn't have much else to do. It only carries five choices, including normal auto shooting, movie mode, playback mode, a "My Favourites" playback setting for your best shots, a scene mode with a useful list of 22 scene programs, and the "Guide" mode, which is a built-in tutorial to help you set up the camera for difficult shots. The mju 780 is a simple point-and-shoot camera, so its list of options is naturally somewhat limited. Metering modes are spot or ESP and the AF system is limited to centre spot focusing or the iESP wide-area setting.
In terms of overall performance the mju 780 is very good. It starts up in a little over 1.5 seconds, which is exceptionally quick, and in single shot mode it can take a picture roughly once every 2.5 seconds, which is also above average. In full-resolution continuous mode it can shoot at approximately one frame a second with or without the flash, and in the 3-megapixel high-speed mode it shoots at approximately four frames a second, with no flash available in this mode. In both modes the number of shots is limited only by the capacity of the memory card. The AF system is also very fast, and in iESP mode it is also reasonably effective in low light, which at least means those illuminated buttons aren't a waste of time. It has no AF assist lamp, but I found that it was perfectly capable of focusing quickly and reliably in dim lighting, which combined with its robust construction, pocket-friendly proportions and moisture resistance make it an excellent choice as a social snapshot camera, or to give it its more common name, taking photos of your mates down the pub.