Olympus MJU 840
- Great design, solid build quality, lots of features, low noise levels
- White balance presets result in inaccurate colours, some corner softening and minor blurring, slow burst mode
It doesn't take the best pictures on the market but they are fine for small- and medium-sized prints and the combination of style, strength and features makes the MJU 840 an attractive all-purpose point-and-shot.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
Olympus' range of MJU cameras have consistently offered stylish, durable and feature filled compact cameras for day-to-day point and shoot photography and the new MJU 840 continues the trend. While its images aren't top notch everything else is, from its sturdy design through to the robust list of functions.
A little while ago it would have been ludicrous to call an 8-megapixel camera 'mid-range', but considering the bevy of 10- and 12-megapixel units out these days the MJU 840 definitely sits in the middle of the pack, both in terms of image quality and price.
Like the previous MJU unit we reviewed, the MJU 1200, this model captures shots that are quite sharp but perhaps just a little on the soft side. It isn't evident in small and medium print sizes, but a slight lack of clarity is evident at A4 or larger. Imatest corroborated this, giving a solid score that is comparable to other 8-megapixel units on the market.
There was quite a bit of corner softening in our test shots and some fairly prominent haloing in areas of high contrast. This was particularly obvious in our outdoor shots, with a fair amount of purple fringing ringing the edges of trees and foliage.
Colour balance was one area the MJU 840 struggled a little. It has no custom white balance option, meaning you're stuck with the preset configurations or the automatic mode, both of which caused us some problems. Under our tungsten test lights most colours came out quite dark and soft. Saturation levels were alright, tending towards quite a natural tone, but the hues weren't at all accurate. Some post processing will be required to tweak these kind of shots. Things shot outdoors looked a little better under the Daylight white balance preset which produced rich, natural looking colours. They still weren't spot on, but they were better than in our indoor shots.
Image noise was kept well under control. Shots taken at up to ISO 200 were perfectly usable for any print size although some fine chroma noise began to creep in. ISO 400 saw the noise jump up considerably although we'd still be happy making 4x6in prints at this setting.
In our speed tests the MJU 840 performed admirably. Its .09-second shutter lag is about average, but both the 1.8-second startup time and 1.7-second shot-to-shot time are impressive. As is the norm for Olympus models, the burst mode was lightning quick when capturing 3-megapixel shots, but a fairly sluggish two frames per second on full resolution.
Design wise this unit doesn't depart from prior MJU models and that is definitely a good thing. These are probably the best designed cameras on the market right now, both from an aesthetic and build quality perspective. The thin, wedge shaped design is distinctive and slips easily into your pocket. Meanwhile the whole body is built from metal making it extremely sturdy. The controls are all comfortable and the menu is easy to navigate.
The feature set is fairly standard for a compact camera from a top tier manufacturer. Face detect is included, alongside sensor-shift image stabilisation, a variety of scene modes, and basic white balance and ISO options. There is no custom white balance as mentioned before, but Olympus' wonderful guide mode is once again on board, helping novice users capture the perfect shot. One new feature worth noting is the shadow adjustment technology, which purports to help bring out detail in dark areas. While we found it does do this quite well, it also overexposed portions of the shot at times, so you'll need to do a little tweaking to make the most of this option.
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