Olympus Mju 840

      Photo Review 8

      In summary

      An affordably-priced slimline digicam for everyday picture-takers.Designed primarily for snapshooters, the Olympus Mju 840 is affordably priced and comes in black and silver with a 2.7-inch HyperCrystal LCD. It features the traditional Mju slimline design and sports an 8-megapixel CCD imager and 5x optical zoom lens. The sensor itself is slightly larger than the 5.76 x 4.29 mm imagers on most current digicams (unfortunately we don’t have its exact dimensions). . . [more]

      Full review


      Designed primarily for snapshooters, the Olympus Mju 840 is affordably priced and comes in black and silver with a 2.7-inch HyperCrystal LCD. It features the traditional Mju slimline design and sports an 8-megapixel CCD imager and 5x optical zoom lens. The sensor itself is slightly larger than the 5.76 x 4.29 mm imagers on most current digicams (unfortunately we don’t have its exact dimensions).


      Front view with lens extended.

      The lens tucks away into the camera body, thanks to a new proprietary Dual Super Aspherical (DSA) lens element. Unlike some other models, the Mju 840 is not splashproof. However, it does include the Olympus ‘Dual Shakeproof’ image stabilisation system, which combines sensor shifting with ISO boosting. Together they can reduce the risk of camera shake when shooting moving subjects although, in dim lighting, the camera’s sensitivity may be raised to the point where noise is visible in shots.


      Rear view in off mode.

      The Mju 840 is the first in its range with Olympus’s TruePic III image processor, which has been adapted from the processor originally developed for the company’s DSLR cameras. In the process of converting the RGB signals from the CCD chip, it also includes anti-aliasing and noise reduction processing. Both of these processes are carried out automatically, leaving users with no control over the degree of adjustment.
      In fact, a high degree of automation is one of the characteristics of this camera – and this will doubtless suit its target market. Only two options are provided for exposure determination: Program AE or one of 20 scene pre-sets. No provision is made for changing lens apertures or shutter speeds and the aperture appears to default to the widest setting, leaving depth-of-field to be largely controlled by the very small sensor size. Long exposures (up to four seconds) are only available in the night mode. No custom white balance function is provided. There’s also no viewfinder.
      However, the Mju 840 is equipped with a new Face Detect & Shadow Adjust Technology, which allows the image processor to analyse faces and the background independently in shots and balance the exposure to provide a median exposure for both. Bundled with the camera is a plastic MASD-1 microSD card adapter, which allows memory cards from mobile phones to be used for image storage.

      We’ve never been a fan of the menu system Olympus uses for its digicams, finding it generally requires too much toggling to change camera settings. However, the company has managed to pack plenty of functions into its latest models, even though they may not be easy for novice users to locate. (Don’t discard the instruction manual which, although also complex in nature, is your best way of ‘learning what the camera is capable of.)
      Pressing the menu button takes you to a ‘gateway’, which accesses all camera controls.


      In the ‘P’ mode, pressing the OK/FUNC button provides a quick way to adjust white balance, ISO, drive, metering pattern (ESP or spot) and resolution and quality settings. In the auto and scene modes, only resolution and quality are adjustable.


      The scene mode provides two displays, the first showing an illustration of the selected scene and the second a text explanation.


      Rotating the mode dial to the Guide setting calls up a shooting guide with brief outline of various shooting scenarios for users to select. Functions set using the shooting guide revert to the default settings when the menu button is pressed or the shooting mode is changed.


      Finally, if you are recording images on an Olympus-branded xD-Picture Card, three panorama options are available, two of them combining the shots in the camera and the other allowing you to merge them with stitching software on a PC. The first combine-in-camera setting automates the capture and stitching process. As you recompose the shots, the camera automatically shoots and processes the panoramic image. Only combined pictures are saved.
      The second combine-in-camera setting allows you to compose and shoot three pictures. You then specify which images you wish to combine and the camera will merge them into a panorama automatically. You can fine-tune the positions of adjacent shots with the arrow pad buttons.With both settings, merging only takes place after three shots have been recorded. However, you can combine only two shots by pressing the On/Func button.
      The Setup menu has three pages of functions, including the formatting control.


      Pressing the quick review button or selecting playback on the mode dial calls up the last picture taken and you can toggle through four different displays: with or without information and histogram.


      In playback mode you can also resize shots to VGA or QVGA size, select one of four ‘colour edits’ (B&W, sepia, high or low saturation).


      You can also add frames or labels to shots or insert shots in a calendar template for subsequent printing.


      The playback menu also includes a ‘Perfect Fix’ setting with three options: all, shadow adjust and redeye fix. Finally, you can tag sup to nine shots as ‘favourites’.

      Mju cameras record movie clips in AVI Motion JPEG format with sound. The Mju 840 offers three resolution and frame rate combinations: 640 x 480 at 30fps, 320 x 240 at 15fps and 160 x 120 at 15fps. An icon on the LCD glows red when recording is in progress and the remaining recording time is displayed on the opposite corner of the LCD. Both the optical zoom and autofocus can be used while shooting video clips.
      A ‘pre-capture’ setting in the scene modes allows you to record up to two seconds of video by half-pressing the shutter release. This is added to the five seconds of footage recorded when you fully press the shutter button.
      Movies can be played back on the camera’s LCD at the following speeds: 1x, 2x and 20x. To play back video clips on a frame-by-frame basis you must pause the movie and then use the horizontal buttons on the arrow pad to skip to the adjacent frame. Selecting the Index setting in playback mode extracts nine frames from a video clip and saves them as an index frame.
      Movie performance with the test camera was good – but not spectacular – and sound quality was unexceptional. Picture quality was similar to still shots from the camera.

      The LCD was very susceptible to finger marks but offered slightly above-average usability in bright outdoor conditions. Playback quality was good enough to confirm exposure accuracy in indoor lighting and in outdoor shade – but not sufficiently accurate in sunlight. Still shots showed the blown highlights and blocked shadows typical of small-sensor digicams. However, exposure levels were generally accurate in most shooting situations (although night shots were generally under-exposed).
      Imatest showed resolution to be slightly below expectations and revealed a slight edge softening in shots. Lateral chromatic aberration was low and colour accuracy was good with saturation very close to natural levels (an unusual feature for a point-and-shoot digicam). Surprisingly in a digicam, we found no decline in resolution at high ISO settings, although they were visibly noise-affected.
      White balance performance was better than average, especially under fluorescent lighting. The auto setting failed to remove the orange cast of incandescent lighting but came close enough to require a modest level of correction in editing software. Unfortunately, both the incandescent and all three fluorescent pre-sets over-corrected colours and produced images with noticeable colour casts. No manual measurement is provided.
      Close-up performance was competent and the super-macro setting produced above-average results. Depth-of-field with the macro setting was not shallow enough to prevent background items from interfering with the main subject. Digital zoom shots were slightly sharper and less artefact-affected than similar shots from many other cameras we’ve reviewed.
      The face detection function was less successful than we’ve seen on some other cameras. In our tests, it tended to concentrate on the centre of the frame and would identify faces three or more metres from the camera in the middle of the frame while ignoring closer faces towards the edges of the frame. This rather defects the purpose of the function.We were unable to obtain a satisfactory panorama when shooting with the Combine-in-camera 1 setting, which did not display any aids to shot composition. However, we obtained good results with the Combine-in-camera 2 mode (which did). An example is shown below.



      The test camera powered up in less than a second and we measured an average capture lag of 0.5 seconds. With pre-focusing, this lag was reduced to a consistent 0.1 second. Shot to shot times averaged approximately 3.8 seconds, extending to 5.2 seconds with flash.
      In the standard continuous shooting mode, the camera recorded four high-resolution shots at 0.9 second intervals. With the high-speed burst mode, shots were recorded at 0.8MB with an interval of just over 0.1 second between frames. It took 4.3 seconds to process a burst of 10 shots. It took 15 seconds to format a memory card that was 25% filled.



      Centre-of-field resolution.


      Edge of field resolution.



      Auto white balance with incandescent light.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent light.


      Close-up with Macro setting.


      Close-up in Super Macro mode.


      Digital zoom.


      Short exposure at ISO 100.


      Short exposure at ISO 1600.


      Shot taken with the Night Scene mode.


      The same subject photographed in P mode at ISO 1600.




      Image sensor: “1/2.35 type” CCD with 8.5 million photosites (8.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 6.4-32.0mm f/3.3-5.0 zoom (36-180mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 5x optical, up to 5x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.21); Movies ““ AVI Motion JPEG with sound
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3248×2436, 2560×1920, 2304×1728, 2048×1536, 1920 x 1080, 1600×1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480; Movies – 640 x 480 at 30fps, 320 x 240 at 15fps, 160 x 120 at 15fps
      Shutter speed range: 1/2 sec. – 1/2000 sec. (up to 4 sec. in night mode)
      Image Stabilisation: CCD-shift plus ISO boost
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 EV in 1/3 step increments
      Focus system/range: TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection; range 60 cm to infinity; macro to 20cm; super macro to 3 cm
      Exposure metering/control: ESP/Spot metering; Program AE plus 20 scene modes
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 64-1600
      White balance: Auto, Overcast, Sunlight, Tungsten, Fluorescent (x3)
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, Off; range 20 cm to 4.4 m
      Sequence shooting: 4 large/fine frames at 1.1 frames/second; high-speed mode 8 fps at 0.8MB size
      Storage Media: Internal memory plus xD-Picture Card slot
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 2.7-inch TFT colour LCD with 230,000 pixels
      Power supply: Li-42B rechargeable lithium-ion battery
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 96.4 x 56.5 x 24.0 mm
      Weight: Approx. 130 grams (without battery and card)






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