On a rare negative note for an Olympus camera, I have some questions about battery life that are as yet unanswered. I fully charged the battery last week when the camera arrived, and took it out over a couple of days doing test shots. I only took maybe 50-60 shots in total, some with flash and all with a short review on the LCD screen, but a few days later when I came to write this review the battery indicator was on red, indicating that it was nearly drained. The other Olympus mju cameras have excellent battery duration, so this is surprising. The battery in question is a hefty 3.7V 1230mAh lithium-ion cell, almost twice the capacity of some rival cameras, so it may be that it wasn’t fully charged the first time.
One of the things that impressed me the most about the mju 500 was its outstanding image quality, so it’s no surprise that the 800 is just as good. One of the main selling points of the camera is its “Bright Capture” technology, which improves low light performance and also increases the brightness and contrast of the monitor to aid low light composition. Both work extremely well. I was able to take good photographs in almost total darkness, despite the fact that the 800 doesn’t have an AF illuminator.
In normal light, image quality is superb in every respect, although there is a very noticeable difference in the degree of visible JPEG compression artefacts between the high quality and super-high quality setting, not surprising since the former squeezes an 8 megapixel image into around 1.6MB. Nonetheless, the huge images produced by the mju 800 are enormously impressive.
It may be questionable whether anyone really needs an 8MP compact, but there’s no denying that the Olympus mju 800 is an extremely good camera. Build quality, ease of use and performance are as good as ever. The Bright Capture technology makes low-light photography much easier, and the image quality in SHQ mode is superb. If you simply must have A3-size holiday snaps then it’s ideal.