As part of a family of three, the Mju 820 should offer something that the others don't have. All we have to do is work out what that is.
Olympus Mju 820 Specification
- Sensor: CCD - 8Mp
- Image Size: 3264 x 2488 pixels
- Lens: 36-180mm f/3.3-5.0 (5x zoom)
- Focus: TTL Auto - 3cm Macro
- Exposure: Prog. AE/ 20 Scene
- Metering: ESP/Spot
- Monitor: 2.7in TFT LCD
- Other Features: PictBridge Support
- Movie Mode: Yes (with sound)
- Storage: 47Mb Internal, xD Card
- Batteries: Lithium-ion
- AC Adaptor: Optional
- Video Output: Yes
- Size/Weight: 96 x 56 x 24mm, 125g
- Transfer: USB
The Olympus Mju 820 will offer you the 8Mp sensor, 5x optical zoom and weatherproof body for £155. £15 more will pay for the Casio Exilim EX-S770 with only 7Mp, 3x optical zoom and 6Mb internal memory. Or, £15 less and you can look at the Panasonic FX12 also at 7Mp, 3x optical zoom and no weatherproofing.
Olympus Mju 820 Modes and features
Logically, the Mju 820 should be similar to the Mju 830, but in fact it's more closely related to the Mju 1200. Cosmetically, neither have the Image stabiliser button on the top like the Mju 830. They have the same size screen at 2.7in and the model number is not stated on the front of the camera.
The Mju 820 does have the same resolution and zoom as the Mju 830 which suggests to me that this is a model that has the best bits of both models.
Switching the camera on lights a small blue ring around the power button to show it's on, but then the screen gives that away also. Unusually, the buttons on the back don't light up, suggesting some money saving tactics in the construction.
The back of the camera houses the zoom button which is a simple rocker with the Mode dial sat just below. Only seven options are available on the dial which are Video mode, Guide which is like a small directory for helping with your photography skills, Scene, Image stabiliser, Shooting, Playback and Custom.
Below the Mode dial are two buttons for access to the Menu and a second way to get into the Playback which also doubles as a print direct button.
The Menu has seven icons available, but only selected ones will be highlighted dependant on the setting you are on. Image quality changes the resolution, Reset will do the obvious, Camera Menu allows changes to features such as White Balance, ISO, Drive, Metering, AF mode and zoom options amongst others. The Set up icon goes into more detailed features in the camera such as Formatting the card, Language settings, Volume for the Beep, Shutter noise and general Volume. Other options in the Set up are to have the file numbers resetting when images are removed from the card which is only a good idea if you rename all your pictures otherwise they will overwrite. Pixel mapping is available on all Olympus compacts and is a feature you only need to use once or twice a year. It scans the pixels and ensures they are all working properly.
The last few options are for things such as the Screen brightness, Date & time, Video system and Power save.
Back in the main Menu page and the Panorama mode will only highlight when an Olympus xD card is in the camera as the panoramic mode only works on Olympus cards.
The Scene icon will only highlight when the camera is in Scene mode which I'm not a keen fan of. I think it should be available at all times.
The Function button also doubles up as the Ok confirmation button and this gives quick access to features such as Program or Auto, White balance, ISO ratings, Drive and Metering options. If Auto is chosen, the other options in the Function menu can't be accessed.
The final two buttons on the back are the Display button for the Rule of thirds grid, info on or off screen and a Histogram. This button also doubles up as the Help button which is a great tool for explaining where you are and what it can do for you. So if you're in the Menu, go to a setting, hold down the button and it will give a brief explanation of what that setting does.
The final button is a back lighting assist button for when subjects are stood with the sun or a bright light behind them and they would normally be silhouetted. This button also doubles up as the Erase button when in Playback.
Olympus Mju 820 Build quality
There's no escaping the quality of the Mju range and the 820 doesn't fail to deliver. The metal body is still in-keeping with the rest of the herd and the weatherproofing will keep nasty splashes of liquid away.
The lens is solid and has very little give. The battery bay also holds the xD picture card and the door, whilst long, is solid and doesn't feel like it will break easily.
Olympus Mju 820 Flash options
Auto, Red-eye reduction, Flash on and Flash off are all available regardless of whether you are in Program or Auto mode. The distance guide is 0.2 - 3.9m at wide angle and 0.6 - 2.6m at telephoto.
Olympus Mju 820 Performance
The continuous shooting mode will change the resolution to attain a faster speed and it is indeed fast. The Mju 820 managed 11 images in five seconds before the buffer was full and it had to download. It then managed one more picture in the remaining five seconds of the test so managed a result of 12 images in ten seconds. This isn't a very good result because the camera lowers the resolution to speed the performance up. If it was at highest resolution, it could be forgiven.
The Portrait test has given a warm finish on the portrait mode but has left a highlight on the cheek which is annoying. Using ambient light has produced a distinctly cooler image and it was also taken in program mode.
The landscape image was taken just as the Sun was poking its way out of the horizon. I used the opportunity to see if the Mju 820 could cope with direct sunlight. I took a number of shots metering from different areas. and results were mixed. The shot metered from the ground has completely overexposed the sky which had some delicious colours in it.
Metering from the sky brings out those colours, but sinks the winch into darkness. The best result, albeit not perfect, is from the image spot metered from the bridge in the distance. It samples a fraction of sky and a majority of ground giving a relatively balanced exposure considering the conditions.
The new colourchart has an expanded tonal range, skin tone range and grey scale. The original colourchart has been ringed. This shows good saturated colours, but a paleness in the skin tones. Whites are brilliant and blacks are dark.
The Mju 820 has two macro features. Standard and Super. Supermacro can get in as close as 3cm, but the standard macro facility of the Mju 820 is a yawn inducing 8cm. The Supermacro also loses the capability of zoom.
My other car here with the shadow adjustment switched off has a saturated red and darker shadow under the car. The image appears sharper across the whole shot suggesting a smaller aperture.
With the shadow adjustment switched on, the Red of the car is paler and the shadow not as dark. I have boosted Contrast and amended levels to highlight the feature.
Portrait mode always warms anyway, but the flash has ensured the elimination of shadows.
Program mode is cooler as standard. At this time of year, using portrait mode is better than ever.
Metering from the bridge gives the most balanced exposure, with slight over exposure on the sky and under exposure on the ground.
Metering from the ground has given a decent reading for the winch, but over exposed the sky.
Metering from the sky balances out the clouds bringing out the rich colour, but completely losing the ground detail to silhouette.
Olympus Mju 820 Noise test
No noise can be detected until ISO200 when shown at full size. Artefacts are showing scattered over low key areas at ISO800 and in what seems like a desparate bid, the image has been severely softened at ISO1600 to try to eliminate noise. The artefacts are roughly the same as ISO800, but the softness of the image can't be ignored.
ISO3200 is a completely different kettle of fish. The highest quality resolution that can be used is SQ1 which at 2048 x 1536, is just over 3Mp. The camera will automatically reduce the resolution with a red warning flagging that the recording mode has changed. When the ISO is changed, the camera will automatically revert the resolution back to the original setting.
The ISO50 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
The ISO3200 test.
Olympus Mju 820 Verdict
This is one of the cameras that has the same technology as the Mju 1200 but without the resolution or high ISO performance. Ask yourself if you need those features and you could save yourself £80.
The Olympus Mju 820 performs to an Ok standard. Nothing is excelled in, which is unfortunate and could be the downfall of this model.
Best bits of two cameras in one
Bad noise performance
Backing out of the Menu is annoying
The Olympus Mju 820 costs around £155 and is available at the ePHOTOzine shop here.