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Wednesday
Sep292010

Olympus Mju II (2) / Stylus Epic 35mm Film Compact Camera Review

(If you're reading this post in RSS or Email and can't see the video, please click here.)

As you know, I love shooting film every now and again. I feel that taking photographs with 35mm film is a very different experience to digital - there's no looking at the rear LED screen, you take a lot less photo's, and everything is more organic. Then you have the excitement of going to the lab and getting your prints (I don't develop my own negatives yet), and finally handing the prints round for everyone to hold and have a look at.

However, I don't want to be lugging around a large camera when I'm shooting these types of photographs. The smaller the better, and the Olympus Mju II (2) or Stylus Epic as it's known in the States, is about as small as you can get.

As you can see in the above video, the Mju is small enough to fit nicely into your shirt pocket, and being weather-proof you know it's going to put up with a bit of abuse. To turn it on you pull the cover apart, and the camera is ready to shoot. The camera is fully automatic, with auto-exposure and auto-focussing, so it's good to get into a habit of turning off the flash every time you use the camera if you're shooting outside.

What makes the Olympus Mju II special is the lens it uses. With a fixed-focal length of 35mm (no zoom) and a maximum aperture of f/2.8, this piece of glass is known for it's sharpness and contrast. Being auto-focus you've got to focus and recompose if your subject is off centre, but you'll be used to this if you've used more modern auto-focus cameras.

Extras are a little thin on the ground. There's a few various flash modes - auto, red-eye (the camera strobes incredibly!), no-flash, night-mode, and there's a shutter delay / remote option too. You can press both the buttons on the back and the camera slips into a spot-metering mode for those tricky lighting situations.

The camera uses DX-Formatting to read the ISO of your film, then sets the exposure from there. So if you "roll your own" 35mm film, make sure it's in cartridges that have the relevant DX stickers on them. The camera has auto-wind-on, so when you take a shot it's almost immediately ready for the next one. When you get to the end of the roll it automatically rewinds.

Using the camera is simplicity itself. The viewfinder isn't that big, but it suffices for this type of camera. Just press the shutter half-way and the camera sets the focus and exposure. There's two little lights to the right of the view-finder - one tells you if the AF has locked on, and the other tells you if the flash is going to fire. Then just press the shutter down all the way and the camera does it's thing. Shutter lag is minimal, and it's also pretty quiet.

I got my Olympus Mju II (2) / Stylus Epic from the Titchfield Car-Boot Sale for the princely sum of £5. They go for a bit more on eBay, but I'd say keep looking at boot sales, second-hand shops, flea-markets and garage sales. The tricky thing about finding Mju II's is that they look very similar to lots of cheaper, inferior Olympus models that don't have lenses that are half as good. So whenever you see an Olympus case, or a black( or silver) Olympus Compact body, make sure you pick it up and check it out to see if it's the 35mm f/2.8 version. If it is, grab it quick!

Further Reading

The Olympus Mju II on Camerapedia.

Jim Tardio's Review Of TheMju II.

The Mju II On Photo.net.

More Film Articles On Robnunnphoto.com.

Your Experiences?

What's your favourite compact camera? Have you used a Mju II? Am I crazy still shooting film when I could simply use the camera on my mobile phone? Please add your comments below!

Cheers, Rob.

Reader Comments (7)

Rob,

I love my Stylus Epic. I bought it new in the late 1990's for $120US. I still use it quite often. In fact, today I dropped off a roll to be developed and scanned (i don't need the prints-I'll print out which ones I like; saves some money). I really like the fact that the camera is weatherproof and I try to use it often on "bad" weather situations. I also like to try (each roll) to use the different features the camera has - even though there are not many. I try to use the spot meter for a few shots, the night flash mode, i try to take advantage of the weatherproofing and much more. Keep up the great website/blog - I enjoy reading the posts. GO FILM!!!!! www.hogophoto.com

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhogophoto

Hi Howard,

I'm really glad you enjoy the website - more film to come too!

The little Epic is a great camera, like you say, I'll have to give it a go in more "challenging" situations!

Thanks again, Rob.

November 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

Hi Rob, nice site, and nice reviews. Do you have a view on the Olympus Mju I?

August 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlyn Evans

Hi Glyn,

Funnily enough I've just put a roll of 800 speed film through a Mju I, look out for a review soon!

Thanks, Rob.

August 29, 2011 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

Hi,Rob.

i have this Stylus Epic in my house. i just wonder, how the picture that using spot meter looks like. can you show me the picture/s? Thanks again, bard.

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbard

Hi Rob, it was your lengthy video on youtube, that inspired me to buy an olympus mju ii but I thought, since it will be my first ever p&s film camera, I shall get the slightly slower mju 1 camera and thankfully I managed to get one online for just a few quid. I've almost put a roll of agfa vista plus 200 through it which I got from the poundstore, do you have any advice or recommendations as to which film/lighting conditions/setting work well with this camera? And how would you compare it to your mju ii. Im very excited to get my first roll developed to see if I should carry on or not! (No matter how terrible I am, Im sure Ill still continue to shoot!) Very much enjoy you site and videos, thank you!

January 4, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteroisín

My best tip would be to get in close - the lenses on the Mju's are pretty wide, but don't be afraid to move your feet and fill that frame.

January 11, 2015 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

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