Olympus is well known for creating interesting and unique cameras, and the latest entry into their weatherproof range of compacts, the MJU 740, fits this mould nicely. Featuring new anti-shake technology, their highly recognisable wedge shaped design, Bright Capture video mode and some extremely high ISO settings, the MJU 740 is a feature packed bundle. Its images, while not the best we have seen, were above average, and only suffered from some minor chromatic aberration issues.
- ISO 1600, Bright capture video mode, 5x optical zoom
- Some chromatic aberration issues, Slow continuous shot mode, No manual white balance
If you don't need a fast continuous shot mode, then the MJU 740 is a great camera, particularly when shooting in low light or fast paced situations.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
The really attractive thing about this camera is the combination of a 5x optical zoom with the various night shooting options. For a camera this slim, a 5x optical zoom is a welcome surprise, giving that extra bit of flexibility you wouldn't have on a regular 3x zoom compact. The MJU 740 also has ISO sensitivities up to an impressive 1600, which is much higher than you'll find on competing models. They advertise the high ISO settings as a way to minimise blur, but it is also useful in low light situations.
Olympus has also bundled 'Bright Capture' on their video mode, which is essentially a low light video recording setting, and we found it had a noticeable impact, making movies visibly clearer and brighter. The overall package really appeals to those who shoot in fast moving or low light situations.
Our imaging tests also proved the MJU 740 performed strongly at a variety of ISO settings. At ISO 100 it scored .49% in Imatest's image noise test, which is comparable to other models in this category. At higher ISO settings however it really shone scoring just 1.83% at ISO 1600. While the noise is somewhat visible at this level, it isn't a big problem, and shots are of a high enough quality to be enlarged to a reasonable size such as 11 x 7in. This furthers the already impressive low light capabilities of this camera, meaning consumers can make use full use of the higher settings, with no fear of major image aberrations.
The results in our other tests were slightly less impressive, with the MJU 740 exhibiting about average levels of colour saturation, and quite high chromatic aberration. Its colour score of 8.53 was about on par with other models in this category, and while it wasn't bad, it isn't quite up to the standard of some units we've looked at recently that have scored 6 or lower. Surprisingly, the largest errors came in the green and blue spectrums, with warmer colours like red and orange being extremely accurate.
Chromatic aberration was the only Imatest result we were disappointed with. Scoring .142% in this test, it was clearly visible in our shots, and resulted in some blurring and colour fringing around edges. This was particularly evident towards the edges of our motherboard pictures, which lacked the clarity of other parts of the shot.
This is a pity because the MJU 740 performed admirably in our sharpness test. Like its predecessor, the MJU 700, it is one of the only compacts to score over 1400 in this department, achieving a result of 1483. This is an exceptional result and indicates clear, crisp shots with great representation of detail. Our outdoors shots highlight this, showing a myriad of branches and leaves rendered with precision and accuracy.
Anti-blur features aside, we had mixed feelings about some of this camera's other functions. Olympus has wisely chosen to complement the 5x optical zoom with an image stabilisation function, and we found this operated quite well. Combined with the high ISO settings, it really helps reduce blur. There are also 23 scene modes, and Olympus' trademark 'guide' mode, which takes amateurs through taking a variety of different shots. However it is also missing a few things, including manual white balance (although there is a collection of presets) and most importantly, a better continuous shot mode. The two modes that are included are poorly implemented, with one operating at .8 frames per second for just three shots and the other operating at four frames per second but allowing a maximum resolution of just 2048x1536. This is fine for happy snappers, but we'd really have liked a more robust, full resolution option; something running at two frames per second would have been perfect.
The camera's performance in our other speed tests was a little better, but still about average. The MJU 740 exhibited a shutter lag of .09 of a second accompanied by a two second shot-to-shot time and 2.6 second power up time. These are all fairly standard results and lived up to our expectations of this unit, without particularly impressing us.
The design however, did impress. With Olympus' now traditional wedge-like body, it is ultra slim at one end, and thickens out towards the other, meaning it slips into your pocket easily. It is lightweight, yet durable thanks to the weatherproof body and is comfortable to use, with all the controls intuitively placed. The weatherproof casing means using the camera in the rain is no problem, and our tests confirmed this.
Overall the MJU 740 is a solid compact camera. If you shoot a lot in low light or fast paced situations, then the feature set is hard to pass up, but the weatherproof design, big zoom and above average image quality mean it is also an attractive purchase for most photography needs.
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