Olympus µ [mju] Digital 800 Review - Olympus mju 800 Review

The big 2.5in LCD monitor is an impressive item. With 215,000 pixels it is extremely sharp, and the BrightCapture technology means that unusually for a compact snapshot camera, as well as the usual program auto exposure mode, the mju 800 has aperture priority and shutter priority modes. The range of apertures (F2.8 – F8.0 in 1/3EV steps) and shutter speeds (4 – 1/1000th sec also in 1/3EV steps) on offer are genuinely useful and allow a lot of creative control, ideal for keen amateurs who are looking primarily for a snapshot camera but would like something with a bit of versatility.

As well as these semi-manual modes, the 800 has a scene mode with a selection of 19 camera programs for shooting the usual list of special situations, including portraits, landscapes, indoors, sports and action, beach and snow, sunsets and more.

The mju 800 also features an anti-shake system, but it’s not as sophisticated as the electro-mechanical systems found on some rival cameras. It is an electronic system and counteracts camera shake at the CCD by detecting and compensating for vibrations in the sensor image. It works reasonably well, providing a couple of extra stops of low-light shooting, but in this mode image size is restricted to 2,048 x 1,536 pixels.

The mju 800 has the familiar Olympus menu system that has been a feature of its cameras for several years. I have to admit that I’ve overcome my dislike of it, mainly because I’ve seen many that are worse. Everyone else seems to be happy with it, so maybe it’s just me. Exposure compensation, image quality and white balance are very quick and easy to find on the top level of the menu, while less frequently used options such as metering mode, drive mode, ISO and AF mode are in the next layer down.

Mentioning the drive mode segues neatly into camera performance, which has always been a mju strong suit. The 800 doesn’t let the side down, recording a start up time of a healthy two seconds, although the shot-to-shot time of around four seconds at maximum image quality is rather slow, thanks mainly to the write time of the big 3.5MB 8 megapixel files. Help is at hand though, in the shape of a high-speed drive mode that reduces the resolution to 2,048 x 1,536 but can shoot 10 frames in under two seconds.

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