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So far, my boss has owned a total of three Olympus digital cameras. The first one was one of their first digital cameras, which we used for many years until we couldn't find the memory cards and anyway, decided it was just too old. The second one was a Camedia C-50 which I reviewed here some time ago and which we would be using still, except that during a renovation of our offices it went missing. That's why my boss bought this new Olympus camera - the Stylus (MJU) 1000.
Our requirements for a camera were mostly simple. Firstly, having massed many xD memory chips it seemed worthwhile to find a camera that used the same cards. We also wanted to use the same type of rechargeable battery (LiON), since we had at the time two of those (both of which got lost. We also now we have three chargers, as we bought an extra one for the C-50 and this came with its own charger). My boss wanted it to be a compact camera, easy to use and with a large screen which would allow our combined aging eyes to easily preview the pictures we were taking. The Stylus 1000 met all these requirements and a bit more.
Regarding the memory cards, apparently many cameras now take sD cards so finding an xD one wasn't all that easy. Thankfully, Olympus still manufactures such cameras and buying another Olympus also meant that I could use the same software that I received with my C-50. This also meant that we were already basically familiar with how to use this, as the interface from the C-50 is fairly similar to the Stylus 1000. In fact, if you don't want to read the manual or aren't the type of person who will scroll through menus to discover all the options, this is truly a "point and shoot" camera, perfect for less technologically adept users (my boss, included, though he'll never admit it). To quote Jamie Oliver this camera is "easy-peasy"!
But for those who like to discover all the fun stuff, this little baby has a great gadget on the little selection wheel marked "guide", which has the easiest to understand menu of instructions that can get you through every nook and cranny of this camera. If my boss ever touches those wheels he almost always ends up having problems. This wheel however has only five options on it. These are for playing a movie, taking a picture, setting up the screen (for the type of picture you want to take), that guide I mentioned and for filming movies. By the way, that 'screen' option has 20 different still picture settings on it from simple portraits, to landscapes to taking pictures of fireworks or even in the snow or at the beach.
Regarding the design of these two cameras, the differences are twofold. Firstly, the Stylus 1000 doesn't have an optional small view-finder like the C-50, and only has a viewing screen. This makes seeing what you're about to take a picture of easier as the screen here is quite a bit larger than the C-50's screen. While I personally prefer the small view-finders, my boss doesn't and so this very large screen was a plus (also, it is almost impossible to find a new compact camera that has both anymore).
The other big difference is that the C-50 has a sliding lens cover that you push aside for the lens to extend and turn the camera on. The Stylus 1000 has instead an internal lens covers that will slip out of the way when you put the power on. Since we had a problem with the sliding cover getting bent on our C-50, the Stylus is probably better designed and will probably not break down as easily. This also means that without an extra layer from the lens cover, this camera is practically tiny, and while the C-50 wasn't big, this one is very slim and can easily fit into a man's shirt pocket (where the C-50 was a touch too thick to do that).
Of course, what good is a camera if it doesn't take good pictures? I'm happy to say that this one really shines in this area. When my boss used this for the first time, I was terribly impressed at how remarkably sharp and clear the pictures came out. His indoor and night pictures come out almost as clear as outdoor and day-time ones, and since I know he never changes any of the settings, this was the true test for me. This could be due to its full 10.0 megapixels, but I personally think that the clarity of these pictures was more because of something they call "digital image stabilization". What this does is steady the picture so even if your hand moves when you press the shutter, your photo will still be focused. For this alone this camera deserves a rating of five stars out of five. However, you should know it only has a 3x optical zoom, which is pretty bog-standard, but without any digital zoom to enhance that, wouldn't meet my own standards (I'm spoiled by my Fuji that has 10x optical plus another 3x digital zoom), but is good enough for the casual photographer who wants good quality pictures. Oh, and by the way, it is also an all-weather camera which is great if you take it to the ski slopes or want to take pictures in the rain (but stops short of underwater photography).
All told, this is a very nice compact camera, with a good large screen, that takes lovely pictures with its 10.0mp, and digital image stabilization. This is extremely easy to use straight out of the box, but for those who want to fiddle with fancy options, there's no lack of these either. These are also reasonably priced and readily available (see below). I can highly recommend this camera but only for the amateur photographer, and even so, but I'm giving it four out of five stars because I would have wanted more zoom.
Thanks for reading!
Davida Chazan © March, 2008
The official website in the UK for this product can be found at http://www.olympus.co.uk/consumer/29_mju_1000.htm
I found this available at Amazon for £214 but you can find this at other sites much cheaper. For instance, eGears sells these for £189.99 and BuyCentral.co.uk says that Play.com sells these for £179.99, so you'd better shop around!
I've decided not to talk about the software in this review since that would get overly complicated, lengthen this review beyond belief and anyway, I'm reviewing the camera, not the software. Leave it to suffice that downloading directly from the camera is very easy, but I always prefer to remove the memory chip and download via a card reader. In both cases, my computer recognizes that the pictures are from an Olympus camera and the software comes up immediately, if you want to use it.
The Olympus µ [mju:] range is well known for cameras that push the very boundaries of technical achievement, without skimping on the style. The µ [mju:] 1000 retains the hallmark weatherproof metal body of its predecessors, with a sophisticated silver finish, beneath which lies a 10.0 million pixel CCD and a 3x zoom lens, that together deliver razor-sharp results. Suited to low light photography, its light sensitivity can be boosted to an amazing 6400 ISO, brightening the picture without spoiling the atmosphere with a flash.