Olympus Mju II review — street shooter’s wet dream

Olympus Mju II is a highly regarded film point and shoot camera from the late 90’s. I recently acquired one from a flea market for a bargain price. This isn’t the kind of camera I’d normally (emphasis on the word normally) go bananas for, but I gotta say, after shooting with it, I think I know why enthusiasts are nuts for them.

The one I have has a fixed 35mm f2.8 lens, which is in my opinion the model from the Mju lineup. No zooms or other nonsense. Build quality is as good as it gets on a 90’s plastic body.

If you’re into film point and shoots and street photography, Olympus Mju II is probably the ultimate choice, because it is practically invisible due to it’s very small size. It is also unbelievable fast to use. You can use it completely one handed, because there is no separate lens cap or on/off switch. You’ll just slide the front door open with you index and middle finger and the camera is powered on instantly. The autofocus is really fast and accurate so you can shoot from the hip all day. The whole shooting experience is very stealthy and discreet. No one notices that you’re carrying it or taking pictures. It is also very smooth sounding and silent.

The 35mm lens is surprisingly good. It is very sharp and the image quality is very good. I’ve shot so far Kodak T-max 100 with it and I’m liking the results very much. The camera gives really good exposures. I’m guessing the metering system has to be some kind of super sophisticated 90’s space technology.

Some drawbacks has to be mentioned. ISO value cannot be manually selected. The camera detects the ISO value from the DX code and sets the metering to the box speed. Not a big deal, but not ideal for photographers who like pushing and pulling film.

Even though the interface is otherwise genius, the only few buttons are annoying little rubber thingies that you either push with your fingernails or with a tip of a pen. But bearing in mind, that this camera is meant to be as automatic as it possibly can, it makes sense that there aren’t much buttons to begin with and that they are pretty much discouraged to be even used.

Mju II decides when the flash is needed and it is set to auto by default. So you have to be careful with it. If you don’t want to get noticed, flash is obviously something you want to avoid. You can set the flash completely off, but you’ll need to do it again the next time you turn the power on, because it is always set to auto by default.

The aesthetics is somethings that can be argued too. For me film shooting is a nostalgic thing and the right kind of aesthetics are a big part of it. It probably goes without saying that Olympus Mju II doesn’t look like a vintage camera and it is a completely different kind of film shooting experience compared to shooting with a 70’s mechanical SLR. That being said, I thought I’d never get into 90’s plasticy point and shoots, but hey… never say never. After getting my hands on the Mju II, I definitely understand that approach too.

Amazing little camera!

Olympus Mju II, expired Kodak T-max 100. Home processed in D-76.
Olympus Mju II, expired Kodak T-max 100. Home processed in D-76.
Olympus Mju II, expired Kodak T-max 100. Home processed in D-76.

 

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  1. Pingback: Olympus MJU II — an honest review – Attempts at 35mm

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