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.
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.
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.
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
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
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!