A stylish and affordable, slimline digicam with features to appeal to point-and-press snapshooters.Offered in three contemporary colours - Mirror (silver), Phantom (black) and Hot Chilli (red) - the Olympus Mju 1040 is designed for snapshooters and comes with a 10.1-megapixel CCD image sensor and retracting 3x optical zoom lens. Features to suit its target market include a new 'Intelligent Auto' (iAuto) function for point-and-press picture-taking and Face Detect and Shadow Adjust technologies that aim to deliver sharp, correctly exposed pictures in most situations. . . [more]
Offered in three contemporary colours - Mirror (silver), Phantom (black) and Hot Chilli (red) - the Olympus Mju 1040 is designed for snapshooters and comes with a 10.1-megapixel CCD image sensor and retracting 3x optical zoom lens. Features to suit its target market include a new 'Intelligent Auto' (iAuto) function for point-and-press picture-taking and Face Detect and Shadow Adjust technologies that aim to deliver sharp, correctly exposed pictures in most situations.
The camera's face and rear plates are clad in what appears to be brushed aluminium, with black polycarbonate between them. The plastic insert takes in most of the top and right hand side and rear panels where the shutter speed, zoom lever, DC-in and USB ports and battery/card compartment are located. A large, polished metal sliding face plate provides excellent protection for the lens and flash and doubles as an on/off switch.
Front view of the Mirror colour version.
The lens itself isn't particularly fast and its wide-angle capabilities aren't particularly wide (38mm in 35mm format). The flash is also small and very slim. Olympus provides only minimal information about the flash, simply claiming is has a range of 3.8 metres when the lens is at the wide position and ISO is set to 800. It is de-activated in the sequential shooting and Super Macro modes.
There's no viewfinder so shots must be composed on the 2.7-inch HyperCrystal LCD monitor, which covers two thirds of the rear panel. Like other Olympus digicams we've reviewed, the Mju 1040's LCD is quite susceptible to finger marks but provides slightly better-than-average visibility in bright outdoor lighting.
Rear view showing the illuminated control panel.
The controls on the rear panel right of the LCD are of a totally new design. Embedded flush with the camera body, they have been stamped out of the metal plate, which lies atop what appears to be a silicon-rubber pad. This extrudes as low ridges around each 'button'. The ridges glow briefly when the camera is switched on or when any button is pressed, making it easier to locate and identify the controls.
To engage a particular function, you simply press on the indicated area with a fingertip (or, better still, the tip of a fingernail). We doubt anyone with large hands or limited dexterity would be able to use these controls - but such users are not Olympus's target market for this camera. But the camera looks impressive when the panel is lit up.
The menu system is standard for all Olympus digicams and involves a considerable amount of button pressing. The front page contains links to the Camera Menu, Image Quality, Scene modes, Guide, Panorama, Set-up and Silent mode settings. The arrow pad is used to select the page you wish to enter and pressing the OK button opens the sub-menu.
Pressing the Menu button opens the front page (above).
The Camera Menu contains two pages of control settings.
Selecting Guide opens a text shooting guide with simple solutions to common shooting problems.
Five options are provided, each offering between one and four 'solutions',
The top entry in the Guide sub-menu selects Shoot with Effects Preview, which enables users to see the effects of five adjustments - zoom, exposure, colour (white balance), metering pattern and movie frame rates and compare four adjustments in thumbnail size on the screen. Selecting a particular thumbnail engages the related controls. You can adjust zoom settings, exposure, white balance and metering patterns (multi or spot) for still pictures or preview the effect of changing frame rates and resolution for movie clips. This facility is accessed by setting the camera to Program Auto and using the Menu button to access built-in guides.
Preview of 'Colour Effects' (i.e. white balance settings).
Preview of zoom effects.
Preview of exposure effects (i.e. EV compensation).
Direct button access is provided for the exposure compensation, close-up, flash and self-timer adjustments, while pressing the OK/Func. button opens a sub-menu for setting white balance, ISO, drive, metering pattern and image size and quality.
The zoom control is a tiny lever set into the top panel, next to the shutter button - which is also quite small. About mid-way along this panel are three holes for the speaker. The DC-in and USB ports lie beneath a rubber hatch at the top of the side panel. Below it is a tether for the wrist strap.
Beside the lens on the front panel lies a very narrow flash tube and indicator LED for the self-timer. The tripod socket, which appears to be made from plastic, is located mid-way along the base plate.
The battery slots into a compartment in the base of the camera, which is shared with the memory card expansion slot. The Mju 1040 is designed for xD-Picture Cards but comes with a microSD adapter that allows it to be used with higher-capacity cards than the 2GB limit imposed by the xD format.
The Mju 1040 is equipped with Olympus's latest TruePic III image processor, which supports the camera's point-and-press shooting aids. Pressing the Function button allows users to select between Program AE (which lets you adjust the white balance, ISO, drive, metering pattern, resolution and quality settings) and the iAuto mode.
In the latter, the camera will automatically analyse each scene and select the most appropriate scene mode setting. Five options are included in this facility: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Macro and Sports - which should cover most situations for the target market. No adjustments can be made to white balance, ISO, drive and metering pattern settings, although image size and quality are adjustable.
Face Detect and Shadow Adjust technology enables the camera to identify up to 16 human faces and adjust focus and exposure accordingly. The system is designed to cope with backlighting, such as you would find when shooting outdoors or with a window behind the subject.
The Mju 1040 also includes a Smile Shot scene mode, which automatically detects when a subject is smiling and fires off three shots in quick succession. Photo Review isn't a big fan of these self-activating systems, having found them to produce varying success rates in a number of reviews. They can also be very frustrating to work with.
The Mju 1040 has similar image capture facilities to its siblings and offers two JPEG compression levels across seven image sizes, including a 16:9 aspect ratio size for display on widescreen HD TV sets. Images can be recorded with or without sound clips, the latter increasing file sizes marginally. The table below shows typical file sizes for images recorded without sound.
3648 x 2736
2048 x 1536
1600 x 1200
1280 x 960
640 x 480
The Movie recording mode is located I nthe Scene pre-set menu, just after the Smile Shot mode. Only two quality settings are provided: VGA and QVGA, both recorded in AVI Motion JPEG format with sound. High-definition widescreen video is not supported. Typical clip lengths with a 1GB memory card are shown in the table below for the resolutions and frame rates supported.
Continuous recording length with 1GB memory card
640 x 480 pixels
9 min. 25 sec.
18 min. 44 sec.
320 x 240 pixels
25 min. 26 sec.
50 min. 7 sec.
The optical zoom is disabled in movie mode but digital zoom is available. Digital image stabilisation is available in movie mode.
Aside from the standard suite of playback functions, the Mju 1040 provides several 'Perfect Fix' retouching adjustments for correcting images in-camera. This is a once-only process because images that have been edited cannot be retouched a second time. The camera provides three settings: DIS Edit for correcting slightly blurred pictures, shadow adjustment for brightening shadows in backlit and low-light shots and redeye fix.
You can also create small copies of images for emailing. Two sizes are offered: VGA and QVGA. Post-capture colour adjustments include B&W and sepia conversion and hard and soft saturation adjustments. You can also add four-second sound bites to still pictures. Edited images are saved as separate files.
Photographs taken with the test camera showed most of the characteristics of a small-sensor digicam. Colour saturation was slightly elevated and both highlight and shadow details were lost in shots taken in bright sunlight. The test camera showed a slight tendency in such conditions to expose for shadows, making it difficult to prevent blown-out highlights without resorting to exposure compensation.
Imatest confirmed our subjective assessments, although it showed saturation to be relatively modest for a digicam. However it revealed some sizeable shifts in red and purple hues and showed skin hues to be slightly off the mark. Cyan and olive green were also shifted slightly.
Resolution was close to expectations for a 10-megapixel digicam - although only near the centre of the field. Imatest showed considerable edge softening, which increased with increasing lens focal length - despite a progressive increase in centre resolution towards the tele end of the zoom range. The graph below shows the results of our tests.
The differences between centre and edge resolution remained in our tests of ISO performance where the test camera showed a constant (and fairly large) difference between centre and edge resolution right up to (and including) ISO 800. However, edge resolution fell sharply at ISO 1600 and both centre and edge resolution plummeted at ISO 3200, where the resolution is reduced to 3M. The graph below shows the results of our tests.
Lateral chromatic aberration was consistently high for all the focal lengths we tested. Both coloured fringing and edge softening were obvious in test shots taken in bright conditions.
Coloured fringing can be seen with a 100% enlargement.
Corner softening at 100% magnification.
The flash required a sensitivity setting of at least ISO 400 before it could illuminate an average-sized room. Exposures were consistent for all flash settings between ISO 400 and ISO 3200 (inclusive). Image noise became visible in low light shots at ISO 400 and was obvious by ISO 800. However, although the flash output was evenly balanced for wide coverage, it was often slightly too strong for close-ups.
We recorded some attractive close-up shots with the Macro setting, although obtaining sharp focus was difficult with both the Macro and the Super Macro settings. Because the camera permits exposures when subjects are slightly out-of-focus, both settings proved s a bit hit-and-miss with focusing, although exposures were usually well positioned.
Digital zoom shots were sharp but very artefact-affected. The fine zoom setting, which doesn't involve such high magnification, delivered much better picture quality. Video quality was similar to other Mju models Photo Review has tested. Picture and sound quality were good for the camera's limitations - but far from spectacular.
Capture lag averaged 0.6 seconds in Photo Review's standard tests. However, pre-focusing reduced this lag to just under 0.1 seconds on average. It took an average of 4.3 seconds to process each image. The Mju 1040 only provides one continuous shooting mode: High-speed Sequential shooting. With this setting we were able to record 13 images in 0.9 seconds, with each image reduced to 2048 x 1536 pixels (3M). It took 10.4 seconds to process this burst.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
Close-up in Super Macro mode.
Image sensor: 6.16 x 4.62 mm CCD with 10.1 megapixels effective
Lens: 6.7 – 20.1mm f/3.5-5.0 zoom lens (38-114mm in 35mm format)
Zoom ratio: 3x optical, up to 5x digital
Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif 2.21); Movies - AVI Motion JPEG with sound
Image Sizes: Stills – 3648 x 2736, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1920 x 1080 (16:9), 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480; Movies – 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 at 30 or 15 fps
Shutter speed range: 1/2 to 1/1000 sec. (up to 4 sec. in night mode)
Image Stabilisation: digital (ISO boost) only.
Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 EV in 1/3 step increments
Focus system/range: TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection; range 50cm to infinity; Macro to 20 cm; Super Macro to 7 cm
Exposure metering/control: ESP/Spot metering; Program AE plus 9 Scene pre-sets
ISO range: Auto, ISO 50 - 3200 (3MP above ISO1600)
White balance: Auto, Overcast, Sunlight, Tungsten, Fluorescent (x3)
Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, Off; range – to 4.1 m (wide at ISO 800)
Sequence shooting: Approx. 10 frames/second at 3M size.
Storage Media: 48MB internal memory plus xD-Picture Card expansion slot
LCD monitor: 2.7-inch HyperCrystal LCD with 230,000 pixels
Power supply: Li-42B Lithium-ion rechargeable; CIPA rated for up to 300 shots/charge
Dimensions (wxhxd): 89 x 55.5 x 20.3 mm
Weight: 108 grams (without battery and card)
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