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Olympus MJII Review

by Patrick Hudepohl, 2000


The specifications

The Olympus mju-II (called Stylus Epic in the USA) is a typical point-and-shoot camera, with a fixed 35 mm f/2.8 lens and an active AF system. It features auto film load, advance and rewind.

Flash functions include red-eye reduction and night-time flash. The camera also has a spot metering mode, self-timer and tripod mount. By default, the camera determines whether flash should be used or not. Remote control and any sort of protective casing are optional. The front cover not only protects the lens, but also the flash and all the sensors. In August 1998, I paid 299 Dutch guilders for it.

Working with the camera

I find the mju-II to be a great little gadget. It's small enough to take with you, especially when an SLR is too big or intrusive. Its operation is very simple: just slide open the cover, aim and fire. Press the shutter release half way to lock the AF, for more precise focussing.

Keep in mind that the camera resets every time you turn it off and on, so watch out for the flash, since by default it's set to automatic. Don't forget to turn it off, if needed. Furthermore, you often don't have a clue what it's doing. I'm used to my SLR giving information about shutter speed and aperture; not so with the mju-II. As with all P&S cameras, you look through a viewfinder, not through the lens: make sure your finger (or the camera cord!) isn't covering the lens, or one of the sensors.

The fixed lens of the camera is somewhat of a limitation, but not a severe one. I'd rather have a fast 35/2.8 lens than a slow zoom, especially on a compact where most of the shooting is hand-held. Keep the moderate wide angle of the lens in mind when composing a shot and you really can't go wrong.

I have noticed, however, that at wide apertures, the lens's corner sharpness is not very great and there seems to be some light fall-off as well. Just look at the adjacent picture (f159-16), which is as close to a full frame scan as I could get with my HP PhotoSmart . Using ISO 200 film, on an evening walk with rapidly fading light, the camera almost certainly can't have choosen a small aperture. In practice, I mostly use ISO 400 film, so the camera will often stop down the lens and since negatives are nearly always cropped during the printing stage, I find the printed results very acceptable.

Results

The results are very good indeed. The 35/2.8 lens, especially with ISO 400 film, allows for great shots, even in not-so-great light. The 10x15 cm prints and the 20x30 cm enlargement I've gotten back so far, are sharp and correctly exposed. I have yet to test it's performance with slides, but I'm convinced it won't let me down.

Conclusion

Well, what's more to say? It's a great camera, easier taken along than an SLR and produces excellent results. For 299 guilders, I can recommend it.

Editor's Note:

Where to Buy

The mjuII (stylus epic) is stocked by Adorama, a retailer that pays photo.net a referral fee for each customer, which helps keep this site in operation. For additional retailer information, see our recommended retailers page and the user recommendations section.

More information

Give the following sources a try for more information:

About the pictures

The picture of the mju-II itself was taken with my F601 camera, the other pictures are taken with the Olympus, shot on Kodak Gold 200 film and scanned with my HP scanner .

Repair history

Within a year, the AF system seemed to have developed a bug: sometimes, for no apparent reason, it would simply focus at the shortest possible distance, even if the subject was actually several meters away. A warranty-covered trip to Olympus fixed this.

After two years, I have somehow managed to damage the camera. It now always produces slightly out of focus images. Mind you, I have carried this camera with me virtually every day, so it's quite possible that I banged it against a doorpost or something else. Repair is possible at a fixed price of 200 guilders. A new one should still be available for 300. The nice, small digital camera, which I had hoped to buy in a year or so, still costs around 1500 guilders. I haven't decided what to do yet.

Please realise that the repairs my mju II needed may or may not be representative for the mju II in general!


Patrick Hudepohl ( email).

Article created 2000

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Robert Roaldi , October 16, 2000; 12:35 P.M.

I have owned a Styus Epic for 3 years. My SLR collection consists of 3 early to mid-80's manual focus Pentax'es that I use almost exclusively with primes. I also have a Olympus 35 RC rangefinder and had access to a Rollei 35 for a year.

My photo-taking is mostly opportunistic landscape or urban scenery done while hiking or on vacation or just driving around. There's also an occasional roll of family/friend snaps.

I have yet to take viewable photo of friends or family with my SLR's or rangefinder. All the nice ones were taken with the Epic. It is already there in my shirt pocket when things happen that are worth photographing. The other cameras aren't.

My walls are adorned with lots of landscape/urban enlargements and most of those are 8x12 full frame enlargements. About half are pictures of beautiful spots on the planet I visited and wanted to be reminded of. The other half have some intrinsic value as images, IMO. I took an inventory of them for fun one day trying to remember what they were shot with and was surprised to discover that about a third were taken with the Epic. My standards are perhaps not so critical as some pros, although I am no beginner either, but I cannot detect any major difference in appearance between the Epic-taken photos and those taken with more expensive equipment. Or at least, not enough to not make the enlargement in the first place. For the kind of picture for which it is suited, it exhibits more quality than most people can appreciate.

There are many occasions when it cannot fill the bill. When I want control over dof or shutter speed or have a non-simple exposure problem then there is no replacing equipement over which you have manual control. It is an automatic camera and has all the deficiencies of that kind of product. But the images it produces are outstanding.

One issue I have with it is the focal length of 35 mm. I love to shoot with "normal" lens. The shorter 35 mm is OK for lansdscape scenes but not usually what I prefer in other situations. For that I prefer the 40 mm view of the 35 RC or Rollei but what I think would be a fabulous product would be a point & shoot with a "normal" focal length, say 45-50 mm or so. If it came in a compact size like the Epic, there would be many situations where carrying 2 Epic's (1 in each focal length) would be easier than carrying one SLR and 2 lenses.

Another minor issue, from which there is no escape in a small camera, is the size of the buttons. I have chubby fingers and live in Canada where in winter you must wear gloves which make the problem worse. But like I said, if you want a small camera you can't have large buttons and so you learn to live with it.

Let me add that I have owned 2 or 3 zoom P&S's and did not like any of them. They're OK for the occasional snapshot but I would not want them on a vacation where I want all the quality I can carry with me.

If I had to live with only small camera I would likely choose the Rollei over any of the others, including the Epic, but they don't make those anymore and I suspect most people would find them awkward to use. Luckily I can own more than one and so I'll keep the Epic.

(BTW, I would be interested in back to back comparisons of the Yashica T4 with the Epic. Same photos with the 2 cameras kind of thing.)

Michael Katz , October 16, 2000; 01:58 P.M.

I also own this camera and like it very much. However, I have noticed a distortion that shows up on a certain type of shot. If I take a vertical picture of a person close enough to include the person's head down to about their waist and the person is off-center, there is a very noticeable distortion of the person's face. Other than this, I have been very happy with the camera.

Patrick Hudepohl , October 17, 2000; 07:32 A.M.

About the T4 versus mju II. A friend of mine was interested in buying a Yashica T5 (is that a T4 Super in the USA? I'm not sure) and found it rather plain, plastic looking. He liked the design of the mju II better. He hasn't bought either one (yet), though.

Antonio Quinones , October 18, 2000; 12:35 A.M.

I have owned an Olympus Epic since Feb 2000. I usually carry it in my pocket and have been very satisfied with the results I obtain with this camera.

After only 6 months of use the camera stopped working. I sent the camera back to Olympus for repair under warranty (the problem was a shutter malfunction). The work was done quickly (a few weeks) and the experience was hassle-free.

Things break and good warranties and the service to back them up are important. Kudos to Olympus customer and repair services.

Dave Ciskowski , October 18, 2000; 10:39 A.M.

I've owned a Stylus Epic for about 18 months, and it is a great alternative to carrying my full SLR gear. I'm comfortable using it with slide film; the spotmeter gives just enough exposure control to make it work. For me, the best indicators of its quality are the comments I get from non-photographer friends. Photos are much more vibrant and contrasty than anything from a standard P&S.

Like other posters, I chose it over the Yashica T5 based on price and the faster lens. I would however like to have the waist-level finder of the T5. One of the best ways to use this camera is to turn off the flash and use the self-timer; the waist-level finder would help this immensely. Otherwise I'm very happy with the choice, especially at 60% of the cost.

I had to look for a while to find the plain Stylus Epic. Most stores around here carry the Stylus Epic DLX. It's only about $10 more but I really didn't want the date imprinting. Besides, the "champagne" color is not nearly as cool as plain black.

Best of all, it's weather-resistant (and only $90!), so you can take it anywhere without fear...

Cheers, Dave

Alan Little , October 19, 2000; 04:03 A.M.

I have both an Olympus Mju II and a Yashica T4. I use the Olympus a lot more as my carry-everywhere camera for general snapshooting - the autofocus, and flash and spot metering are excellent, whereas I find the focus and metering crude on the Yashica.

I did intend to sell the Yashica when I bought the Olympus, but in the end I kept it for the one area (for me) where its superb lens wins out, which is for landscape pictures when I'm travelling. In those circumstances I'll take the T4, either on its own if 'm travelling very light or instead of a second SLR body.

CC -- , October 20, 2000; 09:05 A.M.

One consideration on this camera is the lack of control for DOF. With a zoom lenses starting at 3.5, you can use the zoom feature to force the camera to close down the aperture, but you still have a fairly fast lens at the wide setting. I've heard reports that the mjuII tends to bias toward shutter speed's that allow for safe handholding. So, If you want your P&S to act a little more seriously, to sometimes sit on a tripod and take something other than a snapshot, a zoom lens may provide you with extra control of the DOF. I'm talking about using fine grained slow slide film. like Provia 100F. The camera is enticing with it's crisp 2.8 lens, and I think it is well-suited for snap shots, and perfect for fast print film shooters who are willing to rely on film speed alone to help control of the shot. However, consider that with a zoom lens starting at 3.5 you can probably still do the candid snapping with fast film, yet it gives you more options which you might find handy, say on a trip. As cheap as these little cameras run, you can probably have the best of both worlds. Best wishes. C. C.

Brien M , October 20, 2000; 04:05 P.M.

I bought both the Epic and T4 and compared them. The differences were minor. I like the small size of the Epic and its remote control capability over the T4. The Epic pictures were very sharp. I returned the Epic though, because the T4 was just as sharp and everyone who saw the pictures side by side liked the color saturation (fabrication?) of the T4. The differences were minor though and if you saw the pictures from the Epic alone, you would say they were pretty good shots. But I like picture of landscapes and the T4 made the scenes look more "engaging". Flash shots with the T4 also came out noticeably better (better exposure, less red-eye). Even though the Epic has a hard-core red-eye reduction strobe, the flash is too close to the lense. If the flash was off set to the side like the zoom models, this may not have been an issue. But guessing from all the information I've seen, had I compared two different samples of the same cameras, I may have liked the Epic pictures better (although the flash issue would likely have remained the same). Both cameras are pretty cheap, and most stores will let you buy both and return the one you don't like.

Patrick Umlauf , October 20, 2000; 04:56 P.M.

My mju-II was bought 4 years ago. It was dropped on the floor, often exposed to the hot sun and always carried in my jeans pocket. It accompanied me during a river rafting tour and even on canyoning tours. I wrapped it in a plastic bag, jumped several times in the canyon river from about 20 feet with it and got wonderfully balanced fill flash shots in the dark canyon. Ok, I had it to dry afterwards for 3 days until the electronics worked properly again. It is a wonderful little friend. Much smaller than the T4, much easier to focus than the Minox 35 and much lighter than my Nikons. I use a little tripod with flexible legs just as small as a pencil. The optical quality equals the tessar design, maybe the coating is not up to the T* standard. Using the little tripod the shots are wonderfully sharp. The mechanics are a possible point of failure. I'm sure that after heavy use the film transport gears (all cheap plastic) will jam. But it is easy to repair (I've done it on a mju-I).

Laurie Young , October 21, 2000; 05:43 A.M.

To answer the question above about a comparison between the Opympus and the Yashica T4 Super. I can't compare the photos of the two - but I stood in B&H and compared the two directly before I got the Opympus. The reason I got it was it is smaller, lighter, takes a photo slightly faster then the T4, easier to switch the flash off (2 button presses instead of 3) and it has a faster lens 2.8 instead of 3.5.

The most desisive factor was that despite the fact the T4 is only slighly larger, the Olympus felt comfortable in my pocket, the T4 felt bulky (at least in comparison)

Peter Lacus , October 21, 2000; 04:44 P.M.

While I like my mju:II altogether, I wish Olympus should improve it in these areas:

1. allow to defeat autofocus, i.e. set focus to infinity (and perhaps set aperture to some 'safe' F-stop, like 8 or 11 for extended DOF). It will enable mju:II to take pictures through the glass etc.
2. use high performance coating such as Pentax SMC or Zeiss T* on all optical surfaces. The lens is very flare prone in the present state (at least when compared with my SMC Pentax primes).
3. add waist-level type viewfinder. This one is not so important for me, but it'll be nice to have such a thing.

That's all, folks, now I'm waiting for Olympus mju:III, the best P&S camera in the world
(hope Olympus engineers will read these pages ;-))

Jeff Smith , October 24, 2000; 11:30 P.M.

I have enjoy my Olympus Stylus Epic and also found that I ended up using it more than my SLR. I sent it to college with my daughter, and it now broken after a hard drop. I wish I could find a similar camera that allowed an external flash like my new Olympus 2020 digital camera. The Stylus is very subject to red-eye as was the Olympus 2020 with the internal flash. What a revelation to use a Vivitar flash on a bracket with bounce flash. I would love to have a small film camera that could be used similarly. Anything like that out there at a reasonable price?

William Nicholls , November 06, 2000; 11:36 P.M.

Sure, and add interchangeble lenses, too.

Olympus could really improve these great little cameras by allowing the flash settings (especially the defeat setting) to be retained when the camera is shut down. One more button to separate the spot meter function would be nice as well but, short of that, an icon as a reminder for accessing the spot mode would be helpful. This camera has the stuff of a classic...add too much and you'd ruin it.

John McCormack , November 29, 2000; 09:18 A.M.

I haven't decided whether I love or hate the Epic/mjuII. The flash produces the worst "red eye" imaginable and the flash wants to fire even in fairly bright conditions; I try not to use the flash at all if possible. Unlike most P&S cameras I think the Epic/mjuII works well with slow (ISO 100 or 160) film. Using fast (400) film in low light tends to produce washed out or partially out-of-focus images if you're within four feet of the subject; this may be caused by the fast lens and intense flash output or failure of the AF as some have noted. I think the camera shoots wide open most of the time to retain a fast shutter speed. It is a "fun" camera and the image quality is very high most of the time.

Richard Mansell , December 27, 2000; 03:04 P.M.

I own a mju II as an alternative to carrying around my Nikon. Things I love about it: 1) Size and convenience 2) Weatherproofing 3) Ease of use 4) Price 5) Sharpness of lens and accuracy of exposure. I bought it primarily as a snap-shots camera, and for those who want something that delivers a better image quality than a standard (read crappy) P&S for snapshots and family/group pics, the Olympus is absolutely terrific. Although I have only had images blown up to 5x7, the sharpness and colour are noticeably better than, say, my father's Pentax zoom P&S. Does it give as sharp an image as my Nikon 50mm 1.8? No. Do I get to take more pictures with it because it is easy to carry? Yes. Is it intended for the same use as my Nikon? No. Would I recommend one? Wholeheartedly. For the price, it's a terrific, easy-to-use camera with a remarkably nice lens. Incidentally, I use it with Fuji Superia 400, and get very satisfactory results.

Remi Lemarchand , January 15, 2001; 04:35 P.M.

I also bought this camera after seeing the excellent reviews in Chasseur d'Images where it got 5 stars like the Yashica T-5.

I really agree with the reviewer, the Stylus Epic is very small, and extremely easy to use.

I have just finished a roll of Velvia and the results are very nice, I am amazed at how sharp the lens is! It looks just as good as the 50 mm 1.8 from my Canon - Just amazing!

The exposure with flash is excellent as well, a lot better than my Elan IIe + 540EZ - My slides are really nice!

The only problem that I have encountered is the fact that the dual zone measuring system is a bit primitive (kinda like an older SLR), for example, my pictures of mountains were greatly underexposed (I should have aimed at the mountains and then re-framed).

Excellent camera - always in my pocket!

Oliver S. , March 19, 2001; 05:55 A.M.

I got a mjuII a few weeks ago. Results from running a few rolls of Fuji Neopan 400 through it:

It wants to use flash in situations when it's really not necessary. The first thing I came to do after opening the front cover was to switch off the flash.

The second thing was to activate spot metering. Looking at the negatives, I realised the ones taken with "standard" metering in tricky situations weren't ill-exposed. Hmmm...

The camera tends to overexpose.

It's almost too small for average-sized hands.

Enlarging up to 20x30cm (8x12) is no problem at all.

Summary: I never thought I'd really like this tool, but I do.

Jack Kratoville , April 21, 2001; 12:52 P.M.

Last year I wrote about the Stylus Epic with only a month or two's use under my belt. Now 15 months and miles of film later, I think I've figured out a bit more of its personality.

First, it's much more user friendly with 400 speed film. The camera prefers an open aperature, and this will help with focus and DOF. Plus, 400 speed film allows better advantage of the 2.8 lens. Always focus and recompose - don't trust the edges of those crosshairs. In daylight, either keep it on auto flash or turn the flash on. At night, keep it off. Some of this camera's true beauty is that fast 2.8 lens. Try and avoid using the flash on people's faces in dark rooms, but if you must - ALWAYS use red eye reduction. Make note it says "reduction" and not "elimination." Better to bring the people over towards more light. And you won't need much. If you want to properly expose someone's face and it takes up less than 35% of the frame, use spot metering. Otherwise the camera will take the whole scene into account, leaving facial features under or over exposed. Same with focus. Night sync works great - again, red-eye reduction is a must.

This camera will take awesome pictures, but because it doesn't "tell" you what it's doing, you have to keep a mental note of its preferences within the exposure you're trying to make. Many times the no-brainers I've shot come out disappointing, whereas the difficult shots have been truly amazing. I find that's because this camera is not a simple point and shoot experience - you have options and you have to keep them in mind when you're trying to achieve a desired effect. As with any camera, you have to use it and get to know it. The biggest thing I've had to get used to is because the camera can take such incredible pictures, I'm more critical of it when a photo is disappointing. Usually it's not the camera's fault. After all, I can't think of any camera that you can fire at anything and have great pictures everytime. You have to think it through first.

It is certainly not a replacement for a good SLR system, but it is truly a remarkable little camera to have to pull out of your pocket at any time.

J L , May 01, 2001; 03:12 P.M.

My SLR system is great, but it's an intrusive piece of technology and it stays home enough to consider selling the whole mess. My Stylus Epic DLX gets far more use in practice.

My criteria were: small size, fast lens, reasonable price. I went to the camera store in search of a Yashica T4 Super, came home with the Olympus.

It's durable, as well. It's with me most of the time, in a pocket, in my car, or rattling around in my daypack. I've had it camping, hiking, traveling, etc. No problems in spite of the abuse.

It takes fine photos. I've posted some examples here in my portfolio, have a look-

http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=114987

or try clicking here

It does tend to be rather zealous with the flash. And the flash too often turns people ghost-white. I usually control the flash myself - I turn it off whenever possible, or force it on for fill or other specific situations. Red-eye can be a real problem sometimes, too.

If I use the default auto mode I get a mix of good and bad shots, like any other camera I've owned. But by using the simple focus/exposure lock feature and flash controls, one can get very good photos out of this camera.

As others have already said it's not the absolute perfect camera. But it's a great solution if you value spontenaity and simplicity.

Recently I did some side-by-side tests of the Stylus Epic, T-4, and an $8 Jazz cheapo from K-Mart. The Stylus and T-4 are in the same ballpark - to my eye contrast and sharpness are a draw at 4x6. Exposure levels were equivalent. The T-4 focused more intelligently in several cases. I only had 100 film handy - I definitely agree with those who recommend 400 speed film for these cameras. The shallow depth of field is obvious in these tests. The T-4 might have a slight edge, but the Epic is small enough to come everywhere with me and the T-4 is chunky enough in my pocket to bother me, so the Epic wins. There are other great small 35mm cameras, but so far I've only found these two choices in a durable weatherproof package.

Sandy Ramirez , July 19, 2001; 07:33 P.M.

I have been using this small wonder for about three years now. It really is a wonder with that lens. I usually either shoot PanF+ or either Kodak TMAX 3200 (past) or Delta 3200 (now). I almost never use the flash and use the spot meter heavily on this unit. If Olympus added one feature only to make this camera great, I would probably want shutter and aperture control (maybe a small dial on the underside or back). One amazing thing is how unobtrusive this unit is. A project I'm presently working on requires a very small camera that can shoot very well in low light. After trying out the T4 and a Minox, the Stylus won out. I feel the AF is ok, but a little slow. Here is picture I took on PanF+.

Image Attachment: nordstom.jpg

John Clark , July 27, 2001; 04:14 A.M.

Sandy, looks like you've got a fair deal of distortion with that lens, however. I thought about getting a small compact, but got swayed into the Contax G camp...

Dave Baldo , September 14, 2001; 03:46 P.M.


Chicago Water Tower

I've experienced most of what the others have described. The exceptional experience was when my Stylus Epic decided to wind out half-a-roll of film during a visit to Sea World in San Diego. It did this twice, so I figured that its water-resistance had failed. When I returned home, I compared it with another OSE. No physical differences in the film compartment, so I unloaded and reloaded the battery. Surprise -- it's worked ever since, and travels everywhere with me.

The DOF is sharper with 400-speed film. Here's a shot from Chicago.

Robert Roaldi , September 18, 2001; 12:21 P.M.

A short comment after 3 years of use, to supplement the original review I put in. The camera has had problems advancing film in the last several months. It seems to occasionally advance the film just a 1/2 frame or so too much, leaving a blank spot. At first it did this on the occasional roll but more recently started doing so on every roll, and very lately twice on the same roll. Whatever the problem is, it's getting worse. Might be time for a cleaning.

Zapata Espinoza , November 14, 2001; 08:56 A.M.

I only wish Olympus would give more information on how the spot mode and the meter really work - a better understanding of the functions would help to make better use of the camera.

John Bleau , December 07, 2001; 09:38 P.M.

I am not a photographer, not even an amateur one.

So, I had to acquire a friendly piece of equipment to carry with me for 4½ months in India. I now have a strong affection for the Stylus Epic that followed me through thick and thin and allowing me to take surprisingly satisfying photos. A feature that served me well was the squarish end on one side and round end on the other: easy to slip into my pocket, but a little tougher on potential pickpockets. So easy to use that my best photo ever, of a leper (in my portfolio), requiring me to slip the camera out of my pocket and instantly snap the photo, resulting in the most heartwrenching photo I'm likely to ever take, was made possible by its excellent ergonomics. I never wanted a zoom lens, since scanning and cropping is so easy. Never wanted another camera.

René Scratch , December 19, 2001; 08:18 P.M.

The bottom line? Just get one! I've been using camera's for about 15 years now and took (mostly Olympus and Nikon SLR's) to almost any place in the world. And altough I'll never stop using these camera's (FE-2, FM-2, F4) there are places where you simply want something that is not going to let you down no matter what you throw at it. So I took mine on a trip through the jungle of French Gyana, which is not a very pleasant trip for a human (ask Papillon) let alone on anything with a battery in it. The Olympus Epic (what's in a name) took to that trip without letting me down once and I came back with some beautiful shots. Now I now that my FM-2 would have performed just as well but when you have to consider everything that you put into you rucksack, the Epic is the natural choice (unless someone else volunteers to carry your equipment!) So like I said when I started, just get yourself one and for about $100 you can't go wrong!

Paul Worthington , March 05, 2002; 06:31 P.M.

I wanted another little P/S for a first trip to New York recently. I scrutinized all the comments on this site and narrowed my choice to a Minolta Freedom 115 and an Olympus 35-80. I thought I wanted a zoom and ended up with the Minolta. As soon as I emerged in Times Square and started taking pictures I realized wide angle was more important than zoom. Plus it was cold and starting to snow and the stainless cover on the minolta that I thought was so great was slippery and had no good hand holds. Also you have to keep cutting camera off (with very small button) to keep lens covered. After about an hour I started looking in the numerous camera store windows for something smaller and easier. I saw the plain black stylus epic with fixed 35. After handling the superbly designed Epic I wanted it but that was the last one. I got "very good deal" on the display. Camera , battery, and film for 70.00. After a week in NY and about 15 rolls of film, I could not believe the results. This camera is awesome. The clamshell cover is a lens cover and on/off in one. Its tapered on one end for ease into a pocket and the open clamshell is a perfect handle. Easy to open cover and take a picture with one hand. I took pictures @ night with tripod, in the snow, bright sunshine, overcast. 90% were excellent. You do need to push shutter release 1/2 way down to focus. It was pretty covert on the subway too. Just remember to cut off flash, act like you are adjusting and snap away. Lots of neat people pics. I have a minolta and nikon SLR that are excellent but for the ease of use, compactness and picture quality, this olympus is great. (I would have rather had my SLR on the Brooklyn bridge at night for longer time exposures but thats all). When I returned and showed my friends the pics, I know of 3 of them who bought the exact camera. Also the developing is a big part. I have used Eckerds for years but their quality has been iffy. I took my pictures to a Ritz camera where they say they adjust to each negative. It must be true because the quality was great. I have been singing the praises of Olympus and Ritz. The quality of the Minolta 115 was good also but the epics size and design is much better. Yes you can do more with an SLR but you have to have the camera with you to get good pics and the epic is small enough to take anywhere. Also get the black, its less obtrusive and they are water resistant. Almost idiot proof with exceptional quality and small.

Stefan Hadjistoytchev , June 06, 2002; 01:41 A.M.

Concerning OLYMPUS MJU-II (Epic Stylus) P&S camera Multi-beam (3-point) autofocus system I found an easy way to check how MJU-II determines distances.

Test was done by using 'green blinking led' feature - when an object is too close (less then 35 cm/ 14 inches ) and the shooting button is half-pressed the green led start blinking.

Using a pencil and pointing at different parts of it through the viewfinder while it is in short distance I easily determined that:

1. In all normal modes there are 3 AF points - 1 exactly in the middle of the viewfinder between the 4 aiming focus lines and 2 AF points in addition. The 1-st additional focus point is exactly where the left horizontal aiming focus line starts (its left edge) and the 2-nd one is exactly where the right horizontal aiming focus line ends (its right edge).

2. In spot mode there is only one AF point and it is placed exactly in the middle of the viewfinder between the 4 aiming focus lines.

When the camera is in one of the normal modes (not in spot mode) it determines the distance using the closest of 3 AF points, i.e. the closest object is focused.

Please, keep in mind that AF points are very thin and if any of them is pointed not exactly at the center of an object (passing next to it) or at the oval part of an object, focus is not determined and I think it is set to infinity.

I just wonder why OLYMPUS does not publish this information?

Nicolas Perrault , July 01, 2002; 03:14 P.M.

Let us face it. The best of cameras is the one that is going to be used. This is because the best pictures are more often then not the work of opportunism. You may justly criticize this little marvel for this or that. In turn I will fault all the bulky SLRS I own for the missed pictures and laziness they have inspired me over the years. The results with Velvia 50 are truly good. It is hard to believe that such an inexpensive camera can consistently perform that well.

Wee Keng_Hor , July 02, 2002; 11:44 A.M.

Flower
This camera is cheap, small and weighs to nothing. And it takes pretty good and sharp picture. I've the Ricoh GR1s, Leica Minilux Zoom and T5 too and can say that the Stylus is the lightest and the most convenient to carry around.

Simon Evans , August 22, 2002; 05:42 A.M.

I've used my mju-II for over a year, and find it an excellent alternative to my SLRs when I want to travel really light. Observations/criticisms:

1. it usually overexposes a little (perfect for negative film)
2. occasionally does not focus - pressing the shutter halfway twice seems to cure this.
3. red-eye is a real problem when using colour film.
4. focussing is a little too slow for true 'grab' shots.

However, within its limitations, it's a truly great camera. I have some images in this folder

tOM Trottier , August 30, 2002; 06:30 P.M.

I like mine a lot & almost always have it with me.

Now if only it would wind it all in to start, then let it out 1 pic by 1 pic. Then I wouldn't have embarrassing rewind sounds in quiet places!

tOM

Terran Melconian , September 06, 2002; 01:25 A.M.

Well, everybody wants a manual... and of course Olympus doesn't have one online, although they have the original Olympus Stylus and some of the zoom models. Here's a distillation of what I consider most of the useful information from a manual. If this seems short, it's becase the actual manual consists primarily of page after page of useful information like "do not put finger over lens", "do not stare into sun", and "camera may be harmful or fatal if shoved up your ass."

Camera Front

Open the camera, and look at the front. The opening directly above the lens is the viewfinder. The bulge to the left of that is the light meter. The red dot in the upper-left is an LED which blinks in self-timer mode. Now put the camera in bright light or shine your flashlight on it; you'll see three IR AF openings. The upper-right one (as you look AT the camera) is the transmitter.

LCD Indicators

Battery
Full and Solid battery good
Partial and Blinking battery going
Partial and Blinking, Other Indicators Off battery gone
Frame Counter
EError/Empty (film not loaded)
numbercurrent frame number
Flash
NoneAuto Flash
Eye SymbolAnti-Redeye Flash
Crossed Out LightningFlash Off
LightningFlash On
Moon and StarsNight Flash
Timer
NoneTimer Off
Clock and RemoteTimer/Remote Mode On
Spot Meter
NoneSpot Meter Off
Rectangle with DotSpot Meter On

Film

When loading the film, the red line on the left side of the case indicates where the leader should end.

The camera senses DX coded film, but it has only four sensors instead of the full six. It assumes that the rightmost two squares are "silver black", so the following possibilities can be sensed:

ISO/ASASquaresOther Speeds Which Will Be Read As This
25SilvBlkBlkBlk32, 40
50SilvSilvBlkBlk64, 80
100SilvBlkSilvBlk125, 160
200SilvSilvSilvBlk250, 320
400SilvBlkBlkSilv500, 640
800SilvSilvBlkSilv1000, 1250
1600SilvBlkSilvSilv2000, 2500
3200SilvSilvSilvSilv4000, 5000

Non-coded film is assumed to be 100 speed. The only way to manually change the film speed is to put stickers on it.

Viewfinder

The marks in the upper corners are parallax correction marks. They indicate the frame at 35 cm/1.1 ft, the closest distance the camera can focus.

There are two LEDs to the right side of the viewfinder. The upper one is orange, and the lower one is green. The LEDs light only once the shutter button has been depressed half way. Their meanings are as follows:

Orange OffNo Flash
Orange OnFlash Will Be Used
Orange BlinkingFlash Recharging
Green OffDoes Not Occur
Green OnAutofocused
Green BlinkingCan't Focus - Too Close

Flash Modes

Pressing the left button on the back cycles flash modes. The modes are:
  1. Auto
  2. Redeye
  3. Off
  4. Fill (On)
  5. Night
  6. Night Redeye
The flash strength is reduced based on the focus distance. The working distances are given as follows, for print film:
Film SpeedMax Distance
1004.1 m / 13.5 ft
2005.8 m / 19.1 ft
4008.2 m / 26.9 ft

The manual suggests that you will get approximately 70% of this distance with color reversal film.

The preservation of flash modes through power off is confusing and infuriating. If the camera is in redeye mode when turned off, it will be in redeye mode when turned back on. If it is in night redeye mode when turned off, it will turn back on in normal (non-night) redeye mode. In any other mode, it turns back on in Auto.

Other Controls

The right button turns the timer on and off. Pushing left and right together turns spot mode on and off.

In timer mode, the light on the front is solid for 10 seconds and blinks for 2, giving a total of 12 seconds delay. Focus and exposure are locked when the shutter is depressed, not when the picture is taken.

Date (only some models)

Hold mode button for 2 seconds. Year will blink. Press set to advance year. Press mode to move to the month, and set it as above. Repeat for day, hour, and minutes.

To decide which mode will be used, press the mode button. The LCD display changes to match the mode, and the modes are as follows:

  1. None
  2. Year-Month-Day
  3. Month-Day-Year
  4. Day-Month-Year
  5. Day-Hour-Minute

Shutter Speeds

The manual doesn't give a curve from light and film speed to aperture and shutter speeds. There is simply a comment that with flash disabled, shutter speeds up to 2 seconds will be used, and in night mode, shutter speeds up to 4 seconds will be used. Useful, huh? Why couldn't they have given proper information?

Specifications

Identical information to what's in the manual can be found at the Olympus Web Site

Miscallenous Notes

The closest focus distance is sometimes called 1.1 feet, and sometimes 1.2 feet in other places in the manual. The 35 cm figure remains constant, so that's probably the one to believe.

A battery supposedly lasts for 20 rolls of 24 exposures. Infrared film is not usable (presumably because the IR film advance counter would interfere?) Camera can be used in rain, but cannot be submerged. "This camera is not suitable for professional use".

Terran Melconian , October 17, 2002; 06:55 P.M.

I agree with Alan's comment about the blue tint; I have noticed it. I shoot negative film and finish digitally anyway, so it doesn't affect me much, but it's something to keep in mind.

You can kluge around the lack of infinity lock by putting your finger or some tape in the correct place. It's annoying, but possible.

Davide M. , October 26, 2002; 12:15 P.M.

I do not know how to use the spot mode. Could anyone please help me?

Simon Storey , November 12, 2002; 06:59 A.M.

Doug Whitman's Kite Aerial Photography page includes the graph below

comparing the 'program' of the Mju II and T4/5. Not having seen the original information I'm not sure what 'derived' means in this instance, but it does agree with the collected experience.

Corey McSween , December 15, 2002; 09:06 A.M.

I would like to add a link to an Olympus Stylus Epic gallery that I created.

Image Attachment: TRACKS102.JPG

William Eric McFadden , January 09, 2003; 08:21 P.M.

I have an on-line manual for the non-DLX version of the Stylus Epic here.

kwan cheung , January 30, 2003; 04:45 P.M.

My mju-II suddently died without a reason. I bought it when it just came to the market. The bottom is marked that the camera was made in Japan. It doesn't seem to be the hardware problem. For example, the lens motor works, shutter works, the flash works, even the motor works. But every shot is stuck to the same shutter speed and aperture wide opened. Somehow the software fails.

Anyway, I purchased a limited edition on ebay for $66. Beautifully made and came with a leather case. I just ran a roll through it. Here is what I found interesting, this newer one will wind the film all the way to the end before rewinding. My first mju-II always rewind after the film counter reaches the specified limit of the film, such as 24 or 26. My newer one gives me 27 shots on a 24-roll.

Alisa Nicole , July 04, 2003; 12:57 P.M.

After reading all the positive comments on this camera I went out and bought one. Just got back my film and I am shocked at how lousy this camera takes photos. How is it possible that so many photos can come out blurry? I was using Royal 400 so speed should not have been an issue. There is terrible red eye. People who were posed in the center of the frame came out blurry while all the background was in focus. And having to turn on the center spot each time you turn the camera on is annoying. The Epic is a waste of money, it's ruined a lot of great shots and I can't wait to take it back to the store. It's worth it to lug my Canon A2 around if I know that all my photos are going to come out great. Way to go Olympus!

chris becker , August 04, 2003; 10:42 A.M.

After seing the program chart of the Mju, I understand why the XA was lot better.

Eileesh Buckley , August 20, 2003; 12:10 P.M.

once upon a time I had an Olympus Mju II, it was the wide zoom 80 model.. 28-80mm zoom lense. Excellent camera, even got shots of F1 cars that weren't blurs of colour !! Definitely weather-proof .. it is even beer proof ! Unfortunately it isn't "annoying cousins making you hit it off a pillar"-proof .. i have yet to get around to getting it repaired, but I have since invested in an SLR as I needed something with a much bigger zoom.

The MjuII survived 2 years of parties, surf comp's, travelling half-way round the world, and produced excellent shots of every type. sports shots - F1 & Surfing, portraits - weddings, wildlife - safari (but a bit loud, had to switch to a digital for any animals that were close). I have to admit I was stunned at how well the Formula 1 pictures came out. My father had attempted to get pictures through a fence at a race with an SLR and every shot came out a blur of colour! My tiny little P&S produced lovely clear shots of every car on track while they were moving!! And I'm pretty sure I was only using iso200 film.

Chris Melikian , January 10, 2004; 08:29 A.M.


Taken in Vietnam...

My experiences with the Mju-II have been almost all positive. I've owned the camera for 4 months to take with me on a round the world trip. The Mju-II is pretty solid and has withstanded several drops on the floor as well as day to day shocks and a little moisture. It has malfunctioned once when somehow (no idea how) the lens cover trapped the lens when I opened it. I thought I'd broken it but closing the cover and re-opening it fixed it. The quality of the photos have been fantastic. The 35mm focal length I find ideal for a blend of landscape and people shots. Most of the images taken at

http://mekondelta.com/gallery/travelling

were taken with it. All the photos of India including most of the Nepal ones.

I have had some problems with out of focus images where I have asked someone to take a photo of me. The person has usually aimed the centre of the finder at my head, the camera has taken the whole view into account and decided to focus on the wall. This problem is easily overcome by someone who knows the nature of the problem (multiple foxus points) and how to fix it(point and click half way, re-frame and shoot).

I have also noticed that the flash can sometimes be too bright. This is usually when there is someone in the foreground and background photo. The flash seems to want to get the background in as well so over-flashes.

Things I would change?

- When you turn the flash off and close the cover then re-open in the flash is set to auto again. When you set a flash mode where the flash appears and close then re-open the cover the mode is remembered. This is confusing!

- I would like a way to set the focus to infinity

- The "shoot" button is placed in a position that feels unnatural ie too far back. An unfamiliar user always frames the picture then tries to find the button then has to look at the camera to find the button then re-frames the shot!

- Battery indicator went from full to zero on New Years Eve!!! Grrr...!

I really like this camera. It's small, takes excellent photos and works great with Fuji Superia Xtra 400 film. Highly recommended!

Mark Schermerhorn , October 16, 2004; 10:06 P.M.

I've owned my Epic eight years; one minor problem it developed was light leaking through the film confirmation window. A bit of black electrical tape solved the problem. As to lens quality, I used it for taking some slides that made their way into a formal presentation. Projected onto a conference room screen, some light falloff at the edges was apparent but added an artsy feel to the subject. For a number of years, the Epic was on PhotoTechniques magazine's annual list of the 25 greatest cameras in production...not bad, considering its company on the list were 'blads, Sinars, Nikons, Leicas, etc.

Raymond Turner , January 02, 2005; 06:52 P.M.

I recently tested my three year old mjuII (35mm, f/2.8) against my late father's Yashica T3 Super (35mm, f/2.8) and against a Yashica T4 Super (35mm, f/3.5) I acquired on eBay. I shot Fuji Reala in all three cameras. My conclusions after viewing the 4 X 6 prints with and without a loupe: 1. All three take sharp contrasty photos. The fact the the mjuII uses 400 focussing steps versus 160 for the T4 (don't know about the T3) doesn't seem to matter much. 2. On available light shots the mjuII beats the T3 on resolution, but the mjuII tends to overexpose flash shots when compared to the T3. 3. The mjuII and the T4 are neck and neck on resolution and contrast in available light shots--too close to call. Again, however, the mjuII's overexposed flash shots (with both close and more distant subjects) falls short of the T4's excellent flash exposure. 4. The mjuII design is far more rugged than either of the other models. I would not throw the T4 or T3 in my briefcase and leave either of them there month after month (lens cover too flimsy), but the mjuII clamshell design takes this treatment very well.

Tom Voigt , November 24, 2005; 02:08 P.M.

I just got my Stylus Epic off eBay for $28USD.

The lens is as sharp as everyone says. I shot the USAF 1951 test chart both on a tripod in a not too bright room, and handheld in bright sunlight. So this should have the lens both wide open and stopped down.

I asked my local lab to give me a CD with their "high-resolution" scan: 2000 x 3000. EVERY test chart group, corner and center, had the last resolvable group being the first bars in the innermost square. This appears to be limited by the resolution of the scan.

In outdoor photography with 400ASA print film, everything was well exposed and consistent. I didn't notice any barrel distortion. There is quite a lot of light fall-off however - don't throw away your Nikkors yet!

I used the tryout version of Panorama Factory 4.0 to merge three of my shots and got a superb result. It managed to largely adjust for the light fall-off and you can't see where the image stitching is done. The 35mm looks like a good lens length for outdoor panoramas and indoor ones in larger spaces.

Tom Voigt , November 26, 2005; 02:47 P.M.

Just to clarify the USAF 1951 test results. Group 0 Element 1 was cleanly resolved, which works out to 25 lp mm. That doesn't sound to great, but this is the resolution of the scan - every group, center or corner, wide-open or stopped down was at least this good.

The lens does seem prone to flare.

Alex Hosking , March 12, 2006; 01:47 P.M.

It might be small, but sometimes I swear my SLR is easier, for street photography, It?s a really nice camera when it comes to image quality but it infuriates me especially when it fire the flash when I am trying to be discrete, or if it shoots wide open at 1/250th rather than F/4 1/125th etc.

People often say the Stylus Epic should not be criticized for its lack of control, I have to disagree, for a start the original Stylus was popular with enthusiasts I would have thought they would have taken this into account, I don?t think it would confuse and photographic air heads as long as it defaulted to Auto mode, I think Olympus may have under estimated the cameras appeal, hope over to Photography Review and it has more review than any other camera. I have a Digital P&S that has the full PASM. It?s so annoying, the lens is there inside that tiny body, its just that most of the time it wont do what I want it to, :( waste of a good camera. I tested it against a 6MP P&S digital for image quality and the MJUII still beats it by a mile. I do think Digital cameras have there uses but its a shame to see so many people trading down, to an inferior camera.

So any way, I am looking for a very small camera with aperture priority. Trouble is I don?t think there is a modern tiny film camera along the size of the Stylus Epic that does have manual controls, All I can think of it the XA, I already have an XA2 its OK on its own but its old and has to have an external flash, ad the flash and it feels like a brick compared to a modern camera, and do I really have to turn the clock back 25 years to get what I want? I would not be so botherd if it were not for the fact that I cannot see an alternative.

Jordan G. , June 08, 2006; 05:14 P.M.

I checked the olympus web page, and the epic / mju ii was on the archives. Discontinued now?

Joey Lee , May 06, 2007; 04:04 A.M.

Here we're inviting flickr user to join the group "We Love μ[mju:]-II"!

jerome giraud , October 25, 2007; 09:27 A.M.

MjuII here MJUII there : http://www.yoclub.blogspot.com

Paul Lindsay , November 23, 2007; 08:40 A.M.

Can anyone tell me if you can override the flash on this camera? i.e. switch it off! Many thanks.

Randall Pukalo , December 01, 2007; 10:13 P.M.

The majority of my best/favorite shots have been taken by my stylus epics, not my SLR's or digital compact. That speaks for itself. No one has mentioned here that the epic is the ultimate camera for capturing precious moments with kids. So small it can always be in your pocket and, and it is very quick to pull out, focus, and fire before the moment is gone.

Tom Powell , April 27, 2008; 04:31 P.M.

I was a big fan of this camera before I "went digital" and have recently picked it up again to shoot some film for a test of the printing and scanning capabilities of my local Costco lab (very good -I recommend). The Epic was and is a great carry-around camera with a fast, sharp lens, a versatile flash (yeah, the buttons can be a pain), spotmetering and a good viewfinder. It's a little larger than today's smallest digitals but I think a lot more capable. I can carry it when I don't expect to do much shooting but want to be prepared if opportunities present themselves. Think I'll keep using it.

Alex Hosking , July 16, 2008; 05:12 A.M.

I much prefer this to digi compacts still, huge DOF, dynamic range and ability to enlarge images still better because they still put tiny weeny sensors in digi compacts.

Tim Atwater , December 13, 2008; 03:45 A.M.

I still prefer the old Olympus XA (and even the XA 2 for speed) for flexibility and control generally, but the Stylus Epic's smaller size, lighter weight (slightly), weatherproofness, spot meter, autofocus, and flash can all be handy to have. I also have a Fujifilm Finepix F20 digcam that's very good but doesn't react as fast as any of the older Olympus pocket film cameras, and I think the 35mm cameras still have a little more photo quality when processed well. I got my Stylus Epic refurbished from the Olympus eBay store for $20 with 90 day warranty, too, so it was also an incredible deal! And yes, the lens is very sharp, even wide open, but use fast film and try to get it to stop down a little and it's even better.

Michael Markey , June 11, 2009; 03:36 A.M.

I have just got my muji 2 back after about 12 years.Don`t ask ! Always liked it .Found article really useful but after all this time I have forgotten about the Dx code on films. I tend to use HP 5 , K64 or one of the Fuji slide films (usually 400). Will the camera recognise these as coded ? Michael Markey

Michael Raso , July 19, 2009; 09:05 P.M.

I am about to purchase a Olympus Mju:II. I have found this article and thread EXTREMELY HELPFUL! Thanks again.

Bob Reynolds , October 28, 2009; 11:55 P.M.

I have 3 stylus epics and have given 3 as gifts.I think they are bargain jewels. This camera has been a part of my life for 10 years. I have some wonderful equipment, but I will admit probably half the film I have shot in that time has been through one of these. It is far better than any of the zoom p&S cameras, which eat their batteries as users zoom in and out while the camera decides between f6 and f13 from its crappy little lens. Far better to just compose within the constraints a really decent fast prime lens. The battery lasts for what seems like forever, at least a couple of years or 40-50 rolls whichever comes first. The fast f2.8 little 35mm lens is great, yes some of my slr stuff and all my Leica stuff technically beat it, but what do you expect from a $70 camera vrs 1000's. The margin is not that huge either. The point being it makes quality pictures if used only half way correctly. All the comments about the over zealous flash are correct, too bad it lacks a simple off on switch that does not reset to auto when you close it. It will flash anytime the sun is in the picture or there is any sort of low light, eventually you will start to remember the tiny button you push twice to turn it off. It works great with 100 speed slide film, 200 or 400 print film. I have enlarged a few shots to 11x14 and would dare you to call them weak or substandard. I once toured New Zealand, 2000 miles in 7 days by motorcycle, with only two of these one with fast 400 print film and one with slide film. My slide presentation is very presentable. I used the black body for one and the silver for the other. From this trip, I learned I prefer the no date model. This cheap little plastic camera lasks exposure compensation, lacks the ability to accept filters and it carries its flash too close to the lens to avoid redeye, but it still manages to make sharp well balanced photos of an all purpose nature. Your snow pictures and Niagra falls will just be underexposed and you can't do anything about it, but 95% of the time no exposure comp won't be a problem. You can do really well with available light if you can hold it steady or just set it on something. It will meter fairly well for a good bit longer than a second. It will sit horizontially or vertically and you can use the self timer for some long steady shots. You can also attach it to one of those stupid cheap pocket mini tripods in about 2 seconds. The night scene mode actually works well. You will never loose the lens cap and you can operate it easily with one hand. I actually have reached in my pocket pulled it out and fired away and then put it away all while riding my motorcycle one handed, dumb if you think about it. Try that with an SLR. What good is it in the digital age? Here are a few ideas. With a fresh $2 roll of film and a fresh battery it is good to go while it sits 6 months to a year. I would however reccomend developing your film sometime within a few weeks of exposure. Not so good to take 3-4 pix and then leave it sit for a year before finishing the roll. No battery charger, no memory cards. You can leave it in your glove box for months and ignore it, it won't mind a bit and it will fire when you pick it up. It fits in your pocket, easily, no screen to scratch, it is safe and happy in its little plastic shell. It is water resistant. No theft risk, who wants it? At least a 20 Million pixel capture demolishes any camera phone I have seen.The various other advantages of film, no errasure, permanent record, original image can't be manipulated etc. Might be just the thing to have at an auto accident, the slightly wide lens might just get what you need also. 8x10 enlargemeents are a piece of cake. Nobody will ever mistake you for a photographer. Best of all why not take it along? Besides being a bit flash happy and a redeye machine my biggest problem is it can get lost in a coat pocket for months and then turn up after you have declared lost forever, thats how I came to own 3. Another great thing is it fits in a womans purse perfectly. Great for grandma who doesn't know focus from f stop and just wants a decent picture once in a while. It loads with no fuss at all and resets to full automatic everytime you close it so grandma won't be confused by being stuck in night scene mode. I have explained the no flash, force flash, night scene and red eye mode to grandma at least 5 times, but it does not register after an hour. Still grandma will pull it out and snap the kids weeks later and be happy. She gets some decent shots too. All in all a great little camera well worth the few dollars it takes to be a real Olympus Photographer,


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