Image quality is generally good, but with a few minor flaws. As I mentioned, exposure control is very good, and the camera coped with a number of high contrast subjects without difficulty, although it seemed to favour shadow detail at the expense of burned-out highlights. Colour rendition was very good, accurately reproducing even very bright colours without a problem.
As is usually the case with over-powered compacts, the actual level of detail in the shots is nowhere near what one might expect from a 10MP camera, as you’ll see if you compare the sample shots with those from the 10MP DSLRs that I’ve reviewed recently. Horizontal and diagonal details were especially blurred.
The camera’s small 7.4 mm – 22.2 mm (35 mm – 105 mm equivalent) lens produced very little wide-angle spherical distortion, but suffered from obvious blurring toward the edges of the frame. In fact in wide angle shots it was only really sharp in the middle. There was also noticeable chromatic aberration right across the frame, producing red and green fringes. There was also a major issue with blue fringes around high-contrast edges, an effect common to most small high-resolution sensors.
Image noise was also a problem, again something that is common to most high powered compacts. All ISO settings higher than 200 had visible noise, and 800 and higher were effectively useless.
At the highest resolution setting the mju 1000 produces JPEG files of around 4MB in size, which seems to be about average for a 10MP compact, and means that a 1GB xD-Picture card is enough for about 200 shots. Images do show some compression artefacts though, noticeably more so than, for example, the Samsung NV10.
Despite these few problems though, image quality is generally good, certainly good enough for snapshot prints up to A4 size, which is all most users will want out of it.
The Olympus mju 1000 is a camera with some very good points offset by some rather bad ones. It is about average for 10MP compacts in terms of picture quality, with good colour and exposure but poor noise control and some optical problems. Build quality, weatherproof durability, performance and ease of use are all good, but let down by poor low light focusing. The 6400 ISO setting is pretty much useless, but the Perfect Fix feature is very handy. It’s worth looking at if you need splash resistance, but there are better high-end compacts on the market.