Olympus Mju 820

      Photo Review 8

      In summary

      A well-built slimline digicam with some useful features for snapshooters but rather small controls.Featuring the slim, ‘Splashproof’ metal body that characterises the Olympus Mju series of cameras, the new Mju 820 combines an 8-megapixel CCD imager with a 5x optical zoom lens and 2.7-inch HyperCrystal LCD screen. Available in black or silver, it is targeted at point-and-shoot photographers and includes a range of features that make picture-taking easy. . . [more]

      Full review


      Featuring the slim, ‘Splashproof’ metal body that characterises the Olympus Mju series of cameras, the new Mju 820 combines an 8-megapixel CCD imager with a 5x optical zoom lens and 2.7-inch HyperCrystal LCD screen. Available in black or silver, it is targeted at point-and-shoot photographers and includes a range of features that make picture-taking easy.

      The LCD covers roughly two thirds of the rear panel, leaving little room for controls but no space for a viewfinder. Camera controls include a slim zoom rocker, small mode dial and buttons for accessing the menu and quick review/direct printing functions. The arrow pad is has a central OK/Function button. Pressing it opens the shooting mode (program auto of full auto), white balance, ISO, drive and metering pattern controls.


      Surrounding arrow pad buttons access the macro, exposure compensation, flash and self timer settings. Two macro modes are provided: normal macro, which covers between 20 cm and 60 cm, and super macro, which focuses between 3 cm and 70 cm. (Zoom and flash can’t be used in super macro mode.) Self-timer duration is fixed at 10 seconds.
      Below the arrow pad are small buttons for setting the display options (with/without shooting info, grid overlay and histogram) and switching on the shadow adjust function. This control adjusts the tones in shadowed areas to bright out detail. The same button doubles as the delete button in playback mode. The Mju 820 also includes Face Detection Technology, which identifies and adjusts exposure and focus values for faces in scenes. This function is selected via the AF Mode sub-menu, which also contains iESP and spot focusing controls.

      The mode dial has settings for shooting stills and movie clips, switching on the ISO-boosting ‘Shakeproof’ function, accessing the 20 Scene pre-sets, calling up the text-based shooting/playback guide and using the Favourites memory. A novel addition to the Scene mode settings is Smile Shot, which can detect smiling faces and will trigger the shutter automatically when a subject smiles. The camera also provides two Shoot & Select modes that allow users to take a sequence of shots and choose which ones to keep.

      Pressing the menu button calls up a screen with icons that access the image quality settings, camera menu (which contains ISO, white balance, digital zoom, drive, AF and metering controls), the Reset button for restoring camera defaults, the Panorama mode, the Setup menu and the Silent Mode (for noise-free shooting). If the Scene mode is selected on the mode dial, scene selections can be made through this menu.

      The Mju 820 provides a wide range of image size and quality settings for the JPEG files it captures. Compression ratios are relatively high, even with the low compression settings. The table below shows what’s available and provides an estimation of average file sizes.


      Image Size


      Typical File Size


      3264 x 2448




      3264 x 2448




      2560 x 1920




      2304 x 1728


      2048 x 1536



      1600 x 1200




      1280 x 960


      1024 x 768


      640 x 480




      1920 x 1080



      Three Panorama mode settings are provided, although they can only be used with an Olympus xD-Picture Card. Combine in Camera1 automatically shoots as the camera is panned and combines the shots in the camera. Combine in Camera2 provides guides so users can set up and take the shots manually then combines them in the camera. Combine in PC gives users full control over the shooting process and requires the images to be stitched on a PC.

      Engaging the DIS (Digital Image Stabilisation) mode increases the sensor’s sensitivity, thereby reducing the risk of camera shake. This setting can be used for both stills and movie clips. Aside from the optical zoom controls, two in-camera zoom settings are provided: Fine Zoom and Digital Zoom. The former combines optical zoom with cropping and allows subjects to be enlarged up to 16x without sacrificing picture quality. The latter supports up to 28x magnification.

      Three quality/size settings are provided for recording movie clips: SHQ, HQ and SQ. The first captured VGA quality at 30 frames/second, while the others record at 320 x 240 and 160 x 120 pixels at 15 frames/second. Clips are recorded with monaural audio. A 1GB cards will hold up to 29 minutes of video at the lowest quality/frame rate setting.

      Playback options are extensive and include the standard single and index views, slideshow playback and movie play. You can also access a Perfect Fix sub-menu containing corrections for minor blurring, underexposed areas and red-eyes in flash shots. When corrections have been applied, the adjusted image is saved as a new file. Images can be registered as Favourites in the camera’s internal memory and you can crop and re-save shots and adjust image colours.


      The Perfect Fix menu.


      Favourite shot tagging.

      The Colour Edit menu has settings for B&W, sepia, increased saturation and reduced saturation. You can also add a frame to a picture, overlay a label (such as ‘Happy Birthday’) on a shot or integrate selected pictures into a calendar. Other editing functions include Expression Edit, which lets you ‘morph’ a subject’s face and Face Focus, which simulates selective focusing. In each case, the adjusted image is saved as a new file.


      Individual images can be tagged for protection or deletion and groups of shots can be transferred from the internal memory to a ‘back-up’ card. You can also set favourite pictures as a background theme for the start-up screen.

      The Mju 820 also contains a built in clock with dual time facilities for setting the date and time in two time zones. Alarm clock facilities are also provided. Direct printing via PictBridge is supported and shots can be tagged with DPOF settings.

      Shots taken with the test camera looked bright and colour-accurate and the shadow adjust function worked well to brighten up detail in shadowed areas ““ although it appeared to provide about 1/6EV of overall brightening. We noticed a few sharpening artefacts, suggesting that some processing is applied by default in the camera. Both purple and green fringes were evident towards the edges of shots taken in bright outdoor conditions.


      An enlarged section of a shot showing coloured fringes.

      Imatest showed resolution to be below expectations for an 8-megapixel camera but revealed only minor edge softening. It also confirmed colour accuracy was above average and revealed some minor shifts in a number of hues and varying saturation levels. Lateral chromatic aberration was shown to be severe, particularly for vertical measurements.

      We obtained some excellent shots with the super macro setting and long exposures after dark had surprisingly low noise levels at ISO 3200, although noise was visible in normal shots from ISO 400on. Digital zoom shots were very soft. The auto white balance failed to correct the orange cast of incandescent lighting (although it performaed better than many cameras we’ve reviewed) but produced neutral colours with fluorescent lighting. The flash could only illuminate an average-sized room at the highest ISO settings.

      The camera powered up and shut down in less than half a second and we measured an average capture lag of 0.6 seconds. This reduced to an average of 0.15 seconds with pre-focusing. Shot-to-shot intervals were very long as it took approximately five seconds to process each exposure. In continuous shooting mode, 2048 x 1536 pixel shots were recoded at intervals of 0.15 seconds until the memory was filled. The camera’s image processor appeared to be able to keep up with this frame rate for the smaller file sizes.










      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.



      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.



      Digital zoom.


      Short exposure at ISO 100.


      Short exposure at ISO 3200.


      Long exposure at ISO 3200.



      Super macro.




      Image sensor: ‘1/2.35-inch’ type CCD with 8.5 million photosites (8.0 megapixels effective)
      Lens: f/3.3-5.0 (36-180mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 5x optical, up to 5.6x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.21); Movies – AVI Motion JPEG
      Image Sizes: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.21): 3264 x 2448, 2560 x 1920, 2304 x 1728, 2048 x 1536, 1920 x 1080 (16:9), 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480; Movies – SHQ: 640 x 480 30fps, HQ: 320 x 240 15fps, SQ: 160 x 120 15fps
      Shutter speed range: ½ to 1/2000 sec. (up to 4 sec. in night mode)
      Image Stabilisation: Digital only
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Focus system/range: TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection; range 70 cm to infinity, macro to 2o cm, super macro to 3 cm
      Exposure metering/control: ESP multi-pattern and spot metering; Program AE plus 20 scene pre-sets
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 (at 3MP)
      White balance: Auto, Overcast, Sunlight, Tungsten, Fluorescent (x3)
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in, Off; range ““ up to 3.9 metres
      Sequence shooting: 8 frames/second (only at 2048 x 1536 pixel quality)
      Storage Media: 47MB internal memory plus xD-Picture Card expansion slot
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 2.7-inch LCD with 230,000 pixels
      Power supply: Li-42B Li-Ion (C.I.P.A rated for approx. 300 shots/charge)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 96.4 x 56.4 x 24.3 mm
      Weight: 125 grams (without battery and card)






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      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8
      • Image quality: 8
      • OVERALL: 8