- Review Price: £202.00
The mju 9010 is going to have a lot of competition in what is probably the most hotly contested sector of the digital camera market. All of the main manufacturers has a product in this category, with a wide variety of prices and specifications. The benchmark for long-zoom compacts is of course the Panasonic Lumix TZ10 (£220), but other major rivals include the high-tech Casio EX-FH100 (£245), the superb Samsung WB650 (£200), the feature-packed Sony HX5 (£235), the Canon SX210 IS (£200), the Nikon S8000 (£180), the Ricoh CX4 (£230) and the new Pentax RZ10 (£180). In terms of both price and specification the £202 mju 9010 sits close to the middle of the pack, not a comfortable position if Olympus wants its new camera to make an impression.
What does make a good impression is the mju 9010’s appearance. The camera’s body has been re-designed, transforming the rather ugly shape of the mju 9000 into a very handsome new style. The body is fractionally thicker at 31.1mm, but smaller in other dimensions, measuring 94 x 57.6mm. It is also quite a bit lighter, weighing 171g including battery and memory card. Although it doesn’t share the rugged adventure-proof credentials of its mju-Tough siblings the build quality is very good, with an aluminium shell front and back. It is available in two colours, an anodised black and the metallic champagne finish shown here.
The control layout has also been completely revised, and it is a significant improvement over the mju 9000. The formerly very fiddly zoom control has been replaced by a larger rocker switch on the rear panel, and the square D-pad has given way to a round pad with a rotary bezel. A new addition is a dedicated button to start video recording, while the display mode button has been removed altogether, and the layout leaves a small amount of space for the thumb. The main controls are internally illuminated, lighting up blue when any button is pressed. The overall handling is fairly good, although the front panel lacks any sort of grip and the finish is a little slippery.
The mju 9010 is the latest camera to benefit from Olympus’ excellent new menu system. The old multi-page graphic menu has been replaced by a permanent sidebar menu which is used to control most commonly-used camera functions. It is very similar to the system that Casio has been using successfully on its Exilim compacts for many years. Other camera settings are adjusted from a well laid-out tabbed main menu, and the camera includes a comprehensive and well-designed built-in manual with tutorial tips, a very useful feature for novice users. Menu choices can be selected by rotating the D-pad bezel or by clicking right and left as normal.
Although it is only 2.7 inches with a resolution of 230,000 pixels, the monitor is very good, with excellent brightness and contrast and a very wide angle of view, approaching 180 degrees in all directions. It is slightly recessed, so it avoids scratches, and has a good anti-glare coating, so it works well in bright sunlight.
One unusual feature of the mju 9010 is its 2 gigabytes of internal memory. Some of this is used for the built-in manual, and also contains the camera’s supplied PC software, which can be installed via the USB connection. 1.8GB of the internal memory is available for photo storage, enough for approximately 245 shots in the highest quality setting, so it is possible to use the camera without having to spring for a high capacity SD card. The internal memory The battery can also be charged via the USB connection, although a main adapter is also supplied.
The mju 9010 has a better video recording mode than the mju 9000, although by the standards of some of its competitors it still is a bit pedestrian. It can shoot at a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels at 30fps, with mono audio. Optical zoom cannot be used while filming, and neither can autofocus. Video quality is pretty indifferent, although sound quality is surprisingly good. Video is recorded in MPEG-4 format.
The mju 9010’s overall performance is a bit on the sluggish side. It takes around four and a half seconds to start up and take a picture, while in the highest quality setting the shot-to-shot time is approximately 4.3 seconds, which is very slow by any standard. The camera has several continuous shooting modes, but none of them are particularly impressive. The standard continuous mode doesn’t really deserve the name, since it takes only two sequential shots approximately two seconds apart. There are two high-speed modes which can shoot at 5.9fps and 10fps, but only at 3MP and 2MP respectively.
The autofocus system is accurate and reliable and also reasonably quick in good light. As usual it offers the choice of spot, tracking and face detection/iESP focus modes, all of which work well. The AF system continues to work reliably even in quite low light levels, although it does slow down noticeably in dim twilight conditions. Unfortunately the mju 9010 doesn’t have an AF assist lamp, so focusing in nightclub conditions is out of the question.
The mju 9010 uses the same f/3.2 – 5.9 10x zoom lens, equivalent to 28-280mm, as was used the mju 9000. It’s a decent lens, and although it does produce significant barrel distortion at the wide end, centre sharpness is good and corner blurring and chromatic aberration are almost non-existent. The overall level of detail is about average for a 14MP small-sensor compact, and as expected dynamic range is very limited, with poor shadow detail even when using the Shadow Adjust contrast booster function. Colour rendition is good though, with nice natural tones and plenty of detail even in saturated areas.
The mju 9010’s only major weakness is image noise, which is visible even at the 64 ISO minimum sensitivity setting. It gets progressively worse at higher settings, although to be fair it’s not too bad at 400 ISO and doesn’t become a major problem until 800 ISO. Image quality at the 1600 ISO maximum setting is pretty terrible, but that’s par for the course for 14MP 1/2.3 sensors.
The Olympus mju 9010 is a good looking and well made camera, with a well designed easy-to-use interface, with a price and feature set that put it in the middle of the long-zoom pack. The massive internal memory, built-in manual and downloadable software are useful innovations, but the sluggish performance, lack of AF assist lamp and image quality issues will limit its appeal.
”Over the next few pages we show a range of test shots. On this page the full size image at the minimum and maximum ISO settings have been reduced to let you see the full image, and a series of full resolution crops have taken from original images at a range of ISO settings to show the overall image quality. These pictures were taken indoors using reflected natural light ”
This is the full frame at 64 ISO.
Even at 64 ISO there is visible noise.
Noise is slightly worse at 100 ISO.
Slightly worse noise still at 200 ISO.
Noise is starting to become a problem at 400 ISO.
A lot of detail has been lost to noise at 800 ISO.
Image quality at 1600 ISO is about average for a 14MP small sensor camera.
This is the full frame at 1600 ISO.
”A range of general test shots are shown over the next two pages. In some cases, the full size image has been reduced for bandwidth purposes, and a crop taken from the original full resolution image has been placed below it to show the overall image quality. Some other pictures may be clicked to view the original full-size image. ”
Here’s the usual detail test shot of the West Window of Exeter Cathedral, for you to compare with other cameras. See below for a full res crop, or click to see the whole picture. File size 5.9MB
The level of detail is reasonable for a 14MP compact, and the compression rate is low, but the noise reduces the overall quality.
The lens produces quite a bit of barrel distortion at wide angle.
Centre sharpness is pretty good.
There’s no chromatic aberration and little corner blurring.
”Here are some general test shots to help evaluate the camera’s overall image quality, including dynamic range, colour rendition and the zoom range of the lens. Some pictures may be clicked to download the full size original image. ”
The wide angle end is equivalent to 28mm.
The telephoto end is equivalent to 280mm.
At normal settings the dynamic range is pretty poor, typical for a 14MP small-sensor camera.
Even with Shadow Adjust switched on there’s not much shadow detail.
Colour rendition is nice and natural.
Score in detail
Design & Features 7
Image Quality 6
Build Quality 8
|Camera type||Super Zoom|
|Megapixels (Megapixel)||14 Megapixel|
|Optical Zoom (Times)||10x|
|Image Sensor||1/2.33-inch in CCD|
|Optical focal length||5-50mm|
|Shutter speed||4-1/2000 sec|
|Auto focus||TTL, iESP auto focus with contrast detection|
|Max output resolution||4288x3216|
|Other resolutions||4288x2416, 3264x2448, 2560x1920, 2048x1536, 1920x1080, 1600x1200, 1280x960, 640x480|
|Exposure control||i-Auto, Program Automatic, 14 Scene Modes, Magic Filter, Panorama, Beauty, Movie|
|Exposure metering||ESP, Spot|
|Exposure compensation||+ 2EV in 1/3 EV steps|
|Image Stabilisation||Sensor shift|
|ISO settings||Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|Flash range||0.1-5.3m (Wide), 0.6-2.9m (Tele) at ISO1000|
|Flash modes||Auto, Red-eye, fill-in, off|
|White balance modes||Auto, sunlight, overcast, tungsten, Fluor. 1/2/3|
|Image formats||JPEG, EXIF|
|Video (max res/format)||1280x720, 30fps, mono, audio|
|Movie length||Card capacity|
|Self timer||2/10 secs|
|Memory card slot||SD/SDHC|
|Supplied memory||2GB internal memory (1.8 available for shooting)|
|Batteries supplied||925mAh Li-on|
|A/V output||PAL and NTSC|
|Dimensions Width (Millimeter)||94mm|
|Weight (body only) (Kilogram)||171g with card and batterykg|