Thoughts on the Oly MJU-II

This is probably the closest I will come to writing a review of the Olympus MJU II otherwise known as Stylus epic, a cult point and shoot camera. There are already plenty of in depth reviews around, most of them stating the obvious that it’s small, like a slippery bar of soap -its that small.

After 3 and a half rolls (one was a tester), it looks like my MJU is cleared of light leaks which were ruining shots from my trip to Kinderscout. So I’ll just write some thoughts down, and show some snapshots, hopefully giving it justice. All the photos were shot with Rollei Retro 400s which is very contrasty.

 

The battered and all weather sealed MJU

First of all it’s small (very original blog post here). It fits in my jean pockets, along side my wallet, phone and keys. It also fits snug into a shirt pocket. I almost lose it in my jacket pocket. Roughly around 10.5 cm long, 5.5cm tall, and around 3.5cm at its most thickest depth. The ergonomics seem to have taken second preference to the size. It can be fiddly to handle, like I said at the start, a slippery bar of soap.

 

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Nate & Zoe’s wedding – Dan – with flash

The 35mm f2.8 lens is beautiful. With the flash on, or in the right conditions -not a rainy evening, it offers punchy tones and a slight vignetting. It is surprisingly sharp dead centre. The lens is almost as good, if not better than some, expensive luxury 35mm compacts.

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Nate & Zoe’s wedding – Luke – no flash

As a point and shoot it offers nothing in the way of manual control. The sliding front door opens to turn it on. Flash options and a timer are on the back door in the form of two buttons alongside a rewind button. Other than the shutter-release, that is all the control you get. There’s no ISO override either.

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Nate & Zoe’s wedding – Some guy from the Mafia caught in the act

The viewfinder is painful to look through and compose. It is tiny and takes time getting use to. In the centre of the finder sits a crosshair. Presumably not to trigger gun crime, but to help with focusing.

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Nate & Zoe’s wedding – Luke and this Trip35 among pints

The AF seems to just work. I’ve had one maybe two go wrong. But it might be me not half pressing the shutter release to lock in the focus. A green light in the viewfinder indicates if it is focused with no indication as to what on

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Clumber Park

Turning the flash off is a pain. This camera loves the flash. The first time I tried the camera was with dx hacked hp5 at iso 1600. Even at 1600 and in bright sunlight the camera still fired the flash! To turn it off you have to hit the flash button twice everytime time you turn the camera on. A pain, but whatever, I would rather get into the practice of turning it off rather than blasting some stranger in the face with fill flash in what was supposed to be a candid street shot. Just one of those things.

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Wedge of Swans

There is a spot meter mode! This is so useful for backlit photography like below, where you need the camera to meter the subject, it also focuses on that point. You can lock the metering by half pressing the shutter release. This was taken at dusk with no flash.

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Hays – No flash – Backlit

The reputation of this camera is high, almost too high. Is it really worth the three figured ebay prices it goes for? I recently saw a trailer for a documentary called ‘Don’t Blink‘ about Robert Frank, in which you can clearly see him using the mju. This makes me think: if its good enough for a legendary photographer, it’s good enough for me right? Well I still dont think its worth over a hundred pounds -its a plastic point and shoot camera from the 90s that takes good snapshots, it won’t turn you into Robert Frank.

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Corn field

I think overall the MJU II is compact camera showcasing the best of the late 90s photographic technology in one tiny package. It is very simple, but it makes beautiful images. I hope to carry the camera with me on commutes to art college in september onwards for some early morning street photography, hopefully accompanied by some autumn/winter fog.

I dont think its worth the 3 figures it’s going for on ebay. I’m glad I didn’t pay anywhere near that. Yes, mine is a little scratched and suffered light leaks, but it’s nothing a bit of sticky foam and black tape couldn’t cure. Compacts seem to be marketed on ebay at silly prices that make no sense anymore.

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Close up Fern

As a finishing note -this is the first time I’ve used Rollei Retro 400s. It is very contrasty, with little shadow, compared to hp5 it’s more like acros 100. May have to buy more.

Thoughts on the Oly MJU-II

Stuff I saw – Kinderscout / MJU II

I recently found a mju II going for the right price on ebay (not much over £50, rather than silly three figure numbers). I wanted to take it hiking with it being tiny, disappointingly it suffers with light leaks out the wazoo. I will do another post on the camera if I can get it to work properly.

Edale village is tiny with two pubs and one post office, however it’s full of ramblers with the village being at the foot of Kinderscout plateau. It is also the start of the Pennine Way.

We went via Grindsbrook, a rocky ravine with fords, in the search for waterfalls so I could setup some pinhole images with the reality so subtle 6 x 17 -one can be seen here flickr.com/photos/dnh500/28758833540.

Grindsbrook, though not an easy walk or for that matter climb at the end, was nice. We got to eat dinner by a waterfall. We didn’t stay long at the top of the plateau but it offered some nice views for which I’ll be back for.

All the photos were shot with a Mju II / hp5 at 1600 (hacked dx code). Processed in HC110 dilution H.

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Edale station
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Starting out towards grindsbrook
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One of many waterfalls in grindsbrook
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Small waterfalls for days
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Final bit of grindsbrook
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At the top

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Stacks

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Walking down grindslow knoll and into sheepfold

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Weathered trees of sheepfold / edale
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Sheep of edale
Stuff I saw – Kinderscout / MJU II

Clumber park waterfall

Today I experimented with an nd filter. Got my shoes wet in the lake as I stood in the shallows, but ultimately, the whole shoot was a failure. It was far too windy for nd filters. I dislike movement of trees, unless that’s the subject, it’s distracting when it’s in the background.

Also the waterfall had been attacked by green algae, so what looks like green slop is idly ruining every shot. I dont think it will make the flickr/instagram feed, but it was a good way to spend time.
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Clumber park waterfall

Stuff I saw – Clumber park with a Holga

Last night I ran a roll through the holga again. I scratched the shit out of the film somehow -maybe it was done in camera. I also had trouble spooling the film again, so the cupboard became the bastard-film-out-of-a-holga-and-onto-reels cupboard, once again fighting for space with shopping bags and the hoover.

I experimented with the built in flash. This holga seems to reflect the flash inside somewhere, kinda annoying, probably won’t use it much now. Having batteries in the camera really weighs down the plastic camera too.

I tried shots of the local wildlife, and double exposures of reflections in the water with some success. My favourite though is probably the church spire and tree with scratches either corner -which looks intentional. The waterfall is good too, though I’m still looking for a cable release adapter, which seem to have disappeared from the internet, so I can stick an nd filter on.
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Stuff I saw – Clumber park with a Holga