With the January 14th announcement that Kodak Eastman, the historic film company, is to cease making film APS and reloadable 35mm film cameras in the Western world, it’s refreshing to see that this attitude is not reflected by other global camera manufactures.
The New Olympus Mju III - 80 upholds the fine traditions of one of the best selling ranges of compact cameras ever produced with the Mju II - 80 selling over 3.4 million bodies since its creation. This new version is available in both standard models and a Quatzdate version for those who love to have the time and location of their pictures burnt for posterity onto their negatives.
With all the digital cameras raining down on the market like so much photo-confetti it’s easy to forget why film is still a practical medium to use. After all it’s kept generations of treasured family moments recorded for posterity long before it became necessary to attain instant gratification by seeing the picture you have just taken.
Film bodies are slightly larger but lighter in weight than a good deal of their digital counterparts and the Mju III- 80 comes in at just 200g when loaded with film and a battery. The silver-gold body has been given a weather proof set of seals around the film door and the lens barrel so that you can keep snapping away in the most British of conditions.
The Zoom lens offers a 38-80mm focal length with apertures ranging from f5.6 to f10.4 and for the technically pedantic the lens, made by Fresnel, is comprised of 5 elements in 4 groups. For my liking the zoom rocker that alters the focal length could be a little more pronounced, as this current iteration is more a testament to the overall look of the body that to practicality, especially with numb fingers from exposure to British summers.
It seems that Olympus has had the boffins hard at work on some of the basic problems that have dogged film cameras and points of special interest are the newly developed compact flash unit and the built in motion sensor designed to illustrate camera shake. The flash housing has been reworked to comprise a cylindrical body with additional angled surfaces above and below to get more of the light generated pumped out of the camera towards the subject. The net result is more light output for less flash power with an operational range of 7.0 meters in wide angle setting with a 400 ISO film. When the camera shake mode is activated a tilt switch lets the user know when the camera body is being moved to much under current shooting conditions, like 5 cups of espresso, to take a decent shot. The two LED’s next to the optical view-finder will pulse alternately indicating you either need a glass to scotch to stop the hand judder or you need to find a surface to rest the camera upon. So even thought you lack the screen of the digital, Olympus is rectifying many of the factors that have been known to ruin a good picture.
Direct shooting mode options use either the standard 3-way auto exposure settings or the spot metering option. For those photos including yourself there is a choice of a 10second self-timer or a remote control to trigger the shutter. The focusing system uses and 11-point system that means that you stand a better chance of getting the right things in focus. Situational flexibility really come into it’s own with the flash though and the advanced design has been combined with 6 different settings. With so much choice this can be a little daunting and along with the standard red-eye reduction and landscape infinity modes the photographer has also been offered ‘city at night’ and ‘red-eye meets the night scene’. I know this last setting sound like a bad ‘80’s cop show, but these things are there for a reason so enjoy them.
Overall it's a well rounded package. Remember that patience is a virtue and embrace the thrill of going to collect you prints from Mr. Snappy, for these days will be soon be gone. So why not grab a little bit of retro goodness, that best of all, only costs £80.