Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Olympus MJU 1200
- Great design, guide mode good for beginners, nice panorama options, relatively low noise
- Extremely slow shot-to-shot time, burst mode only operates at 2048x1536, corner softening, slightly pink flesh tones
If you can live with the very slow shot-to-shot times and low resolution burst mode Olympus's MJU 1200 offers a sturdy and stylish compact, which captures good images and has a nice array of features.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
If you are a fan of past Olympus MJU cameras then the MJU 1200 will be right up your alley. It doesn't differ much from previous units, bringing the same features list, weatherproof build and stylish design to the table. This time around Olympus has packed in a 12-megapixel sensor which does improve the image quality a little, but the flaws found on units like the MJU 820 are still present here.
Improving the resolution to 4000x3000, the new sensor captures some fairly crisp shots. They are still a little softer at times than we'd like from a 12-megapixel model, but they will be fine for all but the largest print sizes. We did notice a little corner softening and some prominent purple fringing, which suggests chromatic aberration issues, however, these are fairly common problems for a compact camera.
Colour balance was fairly good, with a slightly softer, more natural tone. Typically with compact cameras, the primary colours are quite strongly saturated but on this model that was only really the case with blues. Our main criticism was that skin tones came out a little pink and the white balance settings weren't always as spot on as we'd like.
Image noise was generally kept under control, with minimal graininess up to ISO 200. At ISO 400 it took a slight jump upwards, but the images were still perfectly usable. It isn't until ISO 800 and ISO 1600 that noise really starts becoming a problem.
One other element of the pictures that we quite liked was its ability to handle contrast. The MJU 1200 rendered great detail even in extremely dark areas thanks to its shadow adjustment technology.
As usual the feature set is up to Olympus's fairly high standard. Face detect is back once again along with vibration reduction to help eliminate that pesky hand shake (although it is only digital and doesn't operate nearly as well as its optical brother). The guide mode is also back offering novice users a simple, step-by-step process to improve their pictures. A nice selection of white balance presets are on offer but no custom mode. ISO sensitivities extend to 3200 although as stated we wouldn't take it past ISO 400 or maybe ISO 800. A noteworthy addition is the new Panorama mode, which allows users to stitch together multiple shots by simply lining up the dots. It isn't flawless, but it is one of the simplest panorama modes we've seen and it produces some excellent results.
One feature that is a mixed bag is the burst mode, which while operating at a very speedy seven frames per second, it only captures shots at a resolution of 2048x1536. Furthermore there is no option to slow it down and increase the quality, which is disappointing.
In the rest of our speed tests the MJU 1200 was disappointing. Most notably, its 3.5-second shot-to-shot time is simply far too slow compared to competing models and it really has a noticeable impact on your ability to capture those spontaneous shots. The startup time and shutter lag were a little more reasonable at 2.4 and 0.09 respectively.
As with past MJU units, one of the most appealing features of this model is its build. The slick, wedge-shaped black and silver body looks absolutely fantastic and is as sturdy as a brick. Furthermore its weatherproof design ensures it will withstand some light rain or a trip to the beach with no trouble.
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