In terms of overall performance the Mju 9000 is mostly very good. It takes just under three seconds to start up, which is a little slow but not enough to be a problem, and takes a little over two seconds to shut down again. In single-shot mode it can take a picture approximately once every two seconds, which is reasonably brisk for a 12MP camera, while in standard continuous mode it can maintain one frame a second with the faster H-type card, which is nice and quick. It is slightly slower when using the M-type cards, but only because the buffer fills up after seven shots, faster than it can write to the card.
The autofocus system is quick and reliable in good light at all zoom settings. In lower light it does slow down quite noticeably, especially when zoomed in, but even in very low light it will usually focus on the second try. Unfortunately the Mju 9000 has no AF assist lamp, so once light levels drop too far it cannot focus at all.
Of course you want your holiday photos to look nice, so it’s nice to know that the image quality is mostly very good. The lens is excellent, with good centre and corner sharpness and producing very little distortion or chromatic aberration at any focal length. The level of fine detail is very good, as one should expect from a 12MP camera. Colour reproduction is superb, with plenty of detail even on bright saturated colours, and there is no bleed-over around colour edges. Dynamic range is a bit limited, and the exposure meter does tend to burn out highlights, but the Shadow Adjustment feature does help to preserve some shadow detail. Even noise is reasonably well handled, with good picture quality at 200 ISO, and slightly noisy but still usable images at 400 ISO. Colour saturation looks a bit faded at 800 ISO, and 1600 ISO is distinctly ropey, but this is to be expected from a small over-crowded sensor.
The Olympus Mju 9000 is a sensibly designed and well made camera with a very useful zoom range. It is easy to use, performs well and produces good results in most situations. However the lack of some important features such as an AF assist lamp or any colour adjustments limit its appeal somewhat, especially considering the relatively high price.
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