The controls are pretty straightforward. It has a small mode dial bearing six settings, including the normal program auto, an easier Intelligent Auto (abbreviated iAuto, which might draw some curious glances from Panasonic’s legal department), a scene mode with 14 scene programs including pre-capture movie, and a Beauty mode, which softens skin tones in portrait shots. The dial itself is just stiff enough to prevent it being turned accidentally.
The large square D-pad and the other rear panel buttons light up when pressed, which makes it a lot easier to change settings in the dark, and the simple on-screen function menu provides quick access to white balance, ISO, drive mode, metering mode and image size/quality. These settings are duplicated in the main menu along with a couple of others, but in fact the Mju 9000 is surprisingly limited in terms of options. It has no colour options or picture adjustments, and even common things like a two-second self timer are absent.
The zoom control is a small slider-type switch on the top panel, and is rather small and fiddly. The zoom action is stepped, with 12 positions between wide and telephoto, and although it can get from minimum to maximum very quickly it is rather jerky for fine adjustments. The only other control on the back is a button labelled OR, which offers a choice between panorama assist, shadow adjustment or a strange four-panel multi view option that previews the effects of zoom, white balance, exposure compensation or spot metering.
The camera’s LCD monitor is particularly good. It is of a fairly standard size and resolution (2.7-inch, 230k), but it is very clear and bright with an exceptionally good viewing angle, both vertically and horizontally. It also has a good anti-glare finish and is slightly recessed, so it avoids some scratches and finger marks.
As I mentioned previously the Mju 9000 lacks the increasingly popular HD movie capability, and is instead limited to 640 x 480 VGA resolution and mono audio. The optical zoom cannot be used while shooting, and if you have the cheaper but slower M-type xD cards then movie clips are limited to just 10 seconds. The camera does come with an adapter allowing the use of the popular micro SD cards used in many mobile phones. Is this a tacit admission by Olympus that the days of the unpopular and expensive xD-Picture card are numbered?