The Olympus Mju 5000 digital compact camera offers 12Mp in a small body sporting a 5x optical zoom and flashy design.
Olympus Mju 5000: Specification
- Zoom: 5x optical (36-180mm)
- Resolution: 12Mp
- Sensor size: 1/2.33in
- Sensor type: CCD
- Max. image size: 3968 x 2976
- File type: JPEG
- Sensitivity: ISO64-1600
- Storage: xD picture card, MicroSD
- Focus types: TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection
- Normal focusing: 60cm-infinity
- Close focusing: 10cm-60cm
- Metering types: ESP light metering, spot
- Exposure compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 step increments
- Shutter speed: 4sec-1/2000sec
- Flash: Built-in (0.1-4.7m wide, 0.6-2.7m tele)
- Monitor: 2.7in Hypercrystal II LCD
- Interface: USB 2.0
- Power: Li-Ion battery
- Size: 96.3x57.0x24.6mm
- Weight: 125g (excl. battery and card)
Olympus Mju 5000: Features
If the Olympus Mju 5000 were made of brass and mahogany, the design would look like something from a steampunk workshop. The way the top corners bend in give the camera a style I can only think of as “victorian concept” and the huge lens bezel gives it a mark of vintage.
However, the Mju 5000 is coated in the same glossy black plastic as its bigger brother the Mju 9000 but the camera is slightly smaller and the lens looks bigger because of this even though it's only by a few millimetres.
On the back, a touch pad is used for buttons bringing the camera up to date.
The wheel kind of spoils the flush futuristic appearance.
A thin body houses a 5x optical zoom.
The back of the camera has been given an overhaul to make it look more futuristic and even though it's only a simple touch pad idea, it does look pretty good. I think the command dial spoils the overall effect that Olympus are trying to achieve with the camera as it sticks out just a little bit too much. I've seen some other cameras that have a virtual dial on screen by rotating a small wheel that's integrated into the body of the camera.
Using the wheel allows you to choose certain modes such as auto, intelligent auto which is Olympus' version of the intelligent scene recognition systems developed by Panasonic. You can also choose video, playback, scene menu and the beauty tool on the command dial. It's unusual that they put a playback mode on the command dial as a dedicated button sits just underneath.
A small cross shape outlines the buttons for the function (quick) menu which gives access to white balance, sensitivity, metering, drive and resolution. Surrounding it are buttons for exposure compensation, macro, flash modes and self timer/continuous shooting. As well as a button to change the display of the screen scrolling through info or no info there's the OR button that I discussed in the Mju 9000 review. It's a small, separate menu that you can select panoramic shooting (with the correct xD card), shadow adjustment (dynamic range compensation) and multi window.
This latter option has to be one of the most useful tools I've seen added to a compact camera in a while now. You can choose from zoom, exposure compensation, white balance and metering. Whichever option you choose will bring up several options on the screen in the form of thumbnails and you choose the most desirable outcome.
Olympus Mju 5000: Build and handling
The built-in flash sits in a small segemented area that looks attractive.
I like the fact that the only plastic part of the camera is the front face with it's shiny surface but the back and surrounds are metal and make the camera feel solid in your hands.
The touch pad buttons are sensitive enough so you don't accidentally change a mode when you didn't want to and the command dial is precise.
In fact I think the whole thing has been constructed very well considering it's the lower end of the range. Of course it's part of the Mju range which is Olympus' stylish models and really the only thing that's lacking is the weatherproofing that was present on older models. If you're new to Olympus or photography then you're not missing anything but those of you that remember the heady days of the original Mju series that emerged when 35mm film ruled the world will know the advantage of weatherproofing. Unfortunately the advent of the Tough series of cameras saw the end of an era and I think the Mju series reputation has suffered slightly because of that.
Further examination reveals a disappointing area of plastic that can't be seen from the aesthetic front. The battery bay door is flimsy and needs careful opening as over use will weaken it over time. Couple that with the plastic tripod bush and the bottom of the Mju 5000 deflates a little.
Olympus Mju 5000: Performance
Shutter lag sits at around 0.08sec to 0.10sec which is around standard if not a little slower at times. There are three continuous shooting modes, one is sequential which means it just keeps plodding along taking pictures until the card is full up while the other two are discernable by their designations of 1 and 2.
Sequential mode manages four images in a row before it needs to stop because it gets too much to run the shots in a row. This isn't sequential as the idea is that it keeps going until the card is full and should only use minimal buffer space to ensure it's steady.
Hi-Speed 1 drops the resolution to 3Mp and takes 22 images in four seconds before it needs to download. This works out around 5.5fps but it hadn't finished downloading the images by the end of the ten second limit.
In contrast, Hi-Speed 2 manages 22 images in two seconds which is around 11fps. This is double the speed but doesn't appear to drop the resolution or image quality.
Looking at the colour test chart and it's easy to see that the usual strategy has been applied as primary blue boosts out of the image while warmer colours such as red and yellow are more subdued. Earth brown and forest green aren't as rich as I'm used to seeingand the pastel colours are barely peeking through. Mono tones are nicely balanced but the skin tone is a little flat compared to the actual chart and other compacts that are around today.
I like the landscape image result although there's a fraction of colour fringing present on the white bars leading into the lock and landscape mode has selected a sensitivity that's really a bit too high. Unfortunately, EXIF data isn't reading so i can't find out but noise is definitely present and it really should be less than that.
Metering has coped pretty well although the sky is a bit over exposed. there's enough detail in the shadow areas to bring the exposure down slightly to make sure the sky isn't too burnt out while keeping the darker areas with some detail in them.
Before I took the noise tests of the orange flower, I tested the macro feature of the Olympus Mju 5000 and I'm pleased with its performance as the centre of the flower is pin sharp. The petals in the foreground and distance fall out of focus nicely as the camera has chosen a wide aperture.
Macro is pretty good with a low ISO and shallow depth of field.
White balance for daylight isn't available and auto can't cut it with some shade.
Adding flash helps and has warmed the image up nicely.
The Beauty mode smooths out skin and removes blemishes.
In portrait mode, the auto white balance has left a blue cast due to the camera not having a daylight or manual setting, which is baffling. Adding flash has warmed up the image significantly but has burnt a bit on the forehead. What I do like is the minimal shadow on the wall behind which is usually much harsher.
An extra feature available on the command dial is a beauty setting. This mode smoothes out blemishes and marks on skin but works on any type of photograph. It is designed for portraits though, so don't expect perfect results if you're using it for macro or landscape work.
Olympus Mju 5000: Noise test
Even at such a low setting as ISO64, noise is mildly visible at full size magnification. However, the audience that this camera is targeted at won't notice this and the kind of noise that will really get in the way doesn't appear until ISO400 when detail begins to decrease from the petals while green and purple invades the grey tile.
ISO800 shows a distinct lack of detail thanks to noise reduction software smudging it all out but even that can't cope with ISO1600. Blessingly it's been capped at that setting as anything higher would've been laughable.
Olympus Mju 5000: Verdict
The ISO64 test.
The ISO1600 test.
It's aimed at the point and shoot crowd and I think that if you're part of that then you'll have a lot of fun with this camera. It looks good has a decent enough build and can take some nice pictures. It lacks in power when shooting in the dark without a flash but if you either don't care or use a flash it shouldn't apply to you.
If you're in the market for a present or like a happy snappy camera, take a look at this one.
Olympus Mju 5000: Plus points
Olympus Mju 5000: Minus points
Can't cope at high ISO
No manual white balance
Colours could be punchier
The Olympus Mju 5000 costs around £157 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Olympus Mju 5000