Olympus mju 1010 & 1020 Review - Olympus mju 1010 & 1020 Review

The mju series has been around for a while now, so the 1010 is a design that has evolved over time and consequently fits its intended use very well. The long thin wedge shape of the body is nice and easy to hold, and the detail on front gives it a bit of extra finger grip. The layout of the controls on the rear panel leaves plenty of room to grip the camera, with the small mode dial providing a thumb rest. The control layout is concise and straightforward, and the buttons and D-pad are internally illuminated, making them much easier to operate in the dark. I really don’t know why more manufacturers don’t do this. The zoom control is a rocker switch, but it least it is a quick and responsive one.

Like the rest of the mju series the 1010 is basically a point-and-shoot snapshot camera, and its limited list features reflects this, for example there is no manual white balance option. The main shooting modes are Auto, in which all but the most basic menu functions are disabled, Program mode which at least offers manual selection of some functions such as white balance, ISO setting, metering mode, autofocus mode and continuous shooting, and Scene mode which has 22 programs for particular shooting situations.

The main menu is as awful as ever, with various options scattered pointlessly around numerous sub-menus, making things like changing the metering mode needlessly complicated. Fortunately there is also a sidebar function menu which provides quick access to white balance, ISO, drive mode, picture quality and metering mode. It’s just a pity that it doesn’t include AF mode since this is another often-used option.

One noteworthy feature is the Shadow Adjustment function, which brightens darker areas of the image, simulating increased dynamic range. It increases the sensor gain by about 2EV in the darkest areas, which does cause some problems with image noise, especially at higher ISO settings. This feature can be applied while shooting, or afterwards in playback mode.

The mju 1010 also includes optical image stabilisation, a useful feature on a camera with a longer-than-average zoom range. It is quite an effective system, providing around two stops of extra shooting stability, but as is often the case with optical systems it’s better at compensating for longer focal lengths than it is at very low shutter speeds.

The movie mode is surprisingly limited, with the maximum quality 640 x 480, 30fps mode being restricted to 10-second clips. Longer 29-minute recordings can be made, but only in the rather poor 320 x 240 15fps mode.

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