The Olympus MJU 800 is an eight megapixel digital camera with a three times optical zoom lens. It is a stylish camera with a good build quality. Its metal body also has a weatherproof finish that should stop rain and spray from damaging the camera.
It has one or two advanced controls that you are not typically found on this type of digital camera. The MJU 800 is likely to appeal to anyone who is looking for a well made camera, offering extra protection against the weather and with a higher than normal resolution (number of megapixels).
103 x 57.5 x 33mm
I must admit I had very high hopes for the MJU 800. On the whole I would say that my expectations were met. There were a number of areas where this camera performs very well indeed and I could see a clear difference in the resolution provided by this camera compared with many others I have tested. This suggests you get full value from the eight megapixels.
Starting with the outdoor shots the point that strikes you the most is the level of detail that the camera manages to produce in darker areas of the photos. This is an area where many digital cameras struggle. It is a case of swings and roundabouts to a degree as there tends to be a loss of definition in the lightest areas of an image.
I like the colours the camera produced. Blues and greens in particular show up well. This gives me confidence that you should be able to take a variety of landscape style shots and produce impressive results.
Indoors I was very happy with the camera. The flash unit is very powerful and this helps to produce bright, well lit results. Even in more or less total darkness the MJU 800 has little problem focusing. Both the indoor portrait and the shot of bottles in almost pitch black come out very well. My only gripe is that there is a fair degree of red eye that shows up in the portrait. This is despite the fact I used flash with red eye reduction and also tried the red eye removal option in the camera's menu system. One further point to note is that you need to take a degree of care with the flash. It can be over powering if you are too close to the subject. You may find you get better results if you move the camera back and use more zoom instead of getting in too close.
Finishing on a strong point the macro shot is sharp, bright and clear. This photo stands up well in comparison to all other digital cameras I have tested.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
The MJU 800 managed to take a single shot in 0.32 seconds. That is an average time. It took 8.18 seconds to take five consecutive shots. This works out at a rate of one photo more or less every 1.64 seconds. This is also an average time when measured against similar models.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
For composing images and accessing the menu system there is a 2.5" LCD screen. The screen also has a brightness control that can give you some help in bright or dark conditions. The extra controls found on the back of the camera mean that Olympus have been unable to squeeze in a viewfinder.
As well as a fully automatic mode there is a wide selection of scene modes to help you take the best possible shot. Scene modes help the camera to decide the optimum settings for the type of photo you are planning to take. All you need to do is select the most appropriate scene. The list of scenes available to you is as follows: Portrait, Landscape with Portrait , Landscape, Sports, Night Scene, Night Scene with Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Cuisine, Beach and Snow, Self Portrait, Self Portrait and Self Timer, Indoor, Behind Glass, Document, Candle, Sunset, Fireworks, Shoot & Select 1 and Shoot & Select 2.
There is also a image stabilisation shooting mode. This helps to reduce the blurring that can be caused by not holding the camera completely still.
The 3x optical zoom lens is equivalent to a 38 - 114mm lens in 35mm format. There is also a digital zoom function providing an extra 5x zoom. The camera can focus from 3cms away from the subject in super macro mode.
The built in flash unit has a range of up to 6.5m when the zoom lens is not in use. This decreases to around 3.5m when the zoom is fully extended. This is a powerful flash unit that is capable of lighting a far greater distance than most similar cameras. In fact the range of the flash unit is increased further to a maximum of 12.8m when you use an ISO of 1600. The flash modes available are automatic, red eye reduction, always on and always off. If playback mode there is also a red eye fix facility. This should help you to remove any lingering traces of red eye, although it did not appear to have any real impact when I tested it.
After taking a picture you can change it to black and white or sepia. You can also add a voice memo to a picture too. There is a self timer available for when you would like to appear in the photo yourself. If you want to fire off a number of quick consecutive shots there is a high speed mode that lets you take up to ten photos at a rate of four frames per second. A panoramic function is available to help you to photo sweeping panoramas. Note you must record photos to an Olympus xD Picture card for the panoramic feature to work.
Short movies can be shot. The maximum resolution is 640x320 at a top speed of 15 frames per second. Movies can be recorded up to the capacity of the memory card.
Among the more advanced controls are two types of metering (Digital ESP and spot), shutter priority, aperture priority, shutter speeds between ½ - 1/2000 sec (night scene 4 sec), exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV with 1/3 EV steps), ISO sensitivity 64 - 400 (ISO 800 and 1600 for modes Indoor, Available light Portrait, Candle and Shoot & Select 1) and White Balance (Tungsten, overcast, sunlight, fluorescent light 1,2,3). A histogram display is available in shooting and playback mode.
Olympus provides all the necessary cable to connect the MJU 800 to a computer, television set and PictBridge compatible printer.
A remote control unit can be purchased separately.
Ease of Use
All the key controls such as flash, zoom and shooting mode can be found on the back of the camera. This places most of the key controls at your fingertips. The menu system is relatively easy to use although not as intuitive as some of its rivals. It should not take to find your way around.
One new feature is the introduction of fifteen in camera photography guides. These cover subjects such as blurring backgrounds so that your subject stands out, brightening the subject, shooting moving subjects and taking photos at night. To access a guide all you need to do is press the guide button and select a subject from the menu. Each guide is well written and easy to understand. This is such an impressive idea and I am convinced it will help you to get more out of your camera. Top marks to Olympus.
You can pick up an Olympus MJU 800 for around £265. This compares to around £275 for a Canon IXUS 700, £240 for a Sony DSC P200 and £235 for a Nikon Coolpix 7900. All the cameras I have compared this one with in terms of price are seven megapixel digital cameras. Therefore you would expect to pay more for the extra megapixel. It is also worth taking into account the MJU 800 has a weatherproof body. This is worth a few extra pounds on top of the price as well.
The MJU 800 is in many ways a typical shiny, rectangular digital camera. It has a solid feel to it, with a good build quality. With dimensions of 103x 57.5 x 33mm it is larger than other similar cameras like the Canon IXUS 700 and Sony DSC P200. It is also heavier too weighing in at 181g. The camera is available in two different colours, silver and dark blue.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Power is supplied to the camera by a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Olympus supplies both a battery and charger with the MJU 800. This type of battery is relatively expensive to buy. Therefore rather than picking up a spare battery you may decide to manage the battery carefully and make sure it is fully charged before you set off to take any important shots.
The camera has 32mb of built in memory. Therefore no memory card is supplied with the camera. I was able to take fifteen shots before the memory was full. It is advisable to buy a an additional high capacity memory card to go with the camera. xD Picture cards are the only memory cards compatible with the camera. Click here to save money on xD cards.
Points I like:
Stylish weatherproof body
In camera photography guide
Where it is not so hot:
By the end of my tests I was a big fan of the Olympus MJU 800. It is a well made digital camera that takes good photos both indoors and outdoors. The in camera guide to taking photos is a marvelous innovation and should be applauded. The MJU 800 also scores highly for design and ease of use.
Olympus MJU 800 Front View
Olympus MJU 800 Back View
Olympus MJU 800 Top View
Click for: Specification