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Olympus Mju-II

Go anywhere. That's the Mju-II. I go out on the bike with it dangling around my neck held on by its cord. I go for walks with it stuffed in my pocket next to a soggy map. I stand in the rain and don't worry about it getting wet - I just hang it out to dry next to my socks when I get back. It was once so soaked through that there was standing water inside when I opened it up and took the film out. I just didn't turn it on (if one not quite fully opens the clamshell front it doesn't turn on) and let it dry over a few days. That was ten years ago. It still works, though I now keep a roll of black PVC tape to hand to cover over the seals which are, as my Wife's Dad used to say, "Gorn in."

And it does this:

Mju-II|Delta 400|DD-X
It was lashing it down, the camera was covered in water. Not ideal, but I dried it out and it is fine again.
The point is that I wouldn't have had any other camera out in this weather. Not that this wetness thing is the
most important aspect of the Mju-II, as it also does rather well when treated with a bit of respect!


Mju-II|Delta 400|DD-X


Mju-II|Delta 400|DD-X


Mju-II|Delta 400|DD-X


Mju-II|Delta 400|DD-X


Mju-II|Delta 400|DD-X


Mju-II|Delta 400|DD-X


Mju-II|Delta 400|DD-X


Mju-II|Tri-X|HC-110


Mju-II|Tri-X|HC-110
Detail of above photo to show resolution and lack of distortion


It's pure chance that I've ended up using Delta 400/DD-X for most of the time in the Mju-II. I think it's because I bought some Delta 400 and didn't ever get round to putting it in my other cameras so it was there in the drawer when I needed a film that I knew would be exposed at its box-speed. I must say that the Delta 400 in DD-X seems to be remarkably good, though I have had to up the contrast a little sometimes. But there's no harm in that - that's how it is, and printing in a darkroom it would be no different. But all films produce excellent negatives because the camera exposes well.
The three images below were taken with Tri-X.




It's all jolly super.
Downsides... Well, these really fall into three areas. Firstly I very rarely use film at its box speed, and the Mju-II has no facility for manually setting this on the camera; it just reads the code on the film cannister. So - I just go with that, no real problem. Secondly I never use flash. Never ever. But the Mju-II doesn't know this and I have to remember to disable it every time I slide open the clamshell in lower than bright light. So - I just go with that, no real problem. Thirdly the internal f-stop versus shutter-speed algorithm favours keeping the shutter speed fast, and the exposures are therefore heavily weighted towards the lens being wide open when, on a manual camera, I'd be inclined to concentrate on holding the camera still and closing down the lens as much as I could. When the lens is stopped down a bit it is exceptionally good, as most lenses tend to be in all honesty. Luckily the Mju-II's lens, even wide open, is pretty good. So - I just go with that, no real problem.
This is "just" a point and shoot camera; auto everything is what it's about. It would obviously, therefore, be unfair to judge it against cameras with greater aspirations, but, as the quality of the lens and the exposures are so good I can't help comparing it to the output of other cameras I know, and, as one can see above, the little Mju-II more than holds its own in the real world of what a modest print looks like. The obvious useful comparison is with the XA, which I imagine the Mju-II largely replaced in the minds of Olympus Corp. I discuss the XA on a seperate page. The XA could be described as a "better" camera in that one can set the asa, choose the aperture and select the focus point, but the Mju-II does allow an instant photograph and there's a lot to be said for that. And, although the XA shares some design points with the Mju-II, the Mju-II is much tougher.
Do I use it a lot? No. I use a Trip 35 a lot, but the Mju-II is good for just having with you as it genuinely fits in a trouser pocket. The clamshell is clever and tough and the resistance to water is a plus. I like being able to dangle it about on its string if I'm out and about, but I really don't like the flash having to be disabled each time I open the shell.
So, in my opinion, the main good point about the Mju-II is that there is no reason not to always have it with you; it's tiny and good. I imagine I'm not alone in having been out somewhere and being confronted with a great subject, but... Dash it all! I wish I had my camera! Get a Mju-II - it may not be the best camera in the world, but it'll take a better photograph when you're looking at a chance event than a Leica would in the drawer at home. Or get a Trip 35? No flash to bother you, but a Trip 35 is not as small or as tough as a Mju-II.

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