If you're looking for classy styling, look no further than the Olympus mju 1200. This 12-megapixel point-and-shoot with a 3x optical zoom retails for £215, so we took it through its high-street paces to see if its performance and features justified the price tag.
The 1200 certainly looks the part. The body is made of sturdy metal, with weatherproof seals protecting the slots. It's finished in a business-like yet stylish two-tone glossy black and matte gunmetal, with angled chrome trim. The tapering design wasn't to our taste, but it did make it easy to slip the camera into trouser pockets.
Despite the glossy styling, we had a couple of quibbles with the design. We found the control layout fussy. The raised surface mode wheel interferes somewhat with the action of the zoom rocker, which is itself as clunky as most rockers. The wheel is stiff, and annoyingly does not revolve 360 degrees.
There are nine buttons to the right of the large 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screen, which is at least one too many. The playback button is superfluous, duplicating a setting on the mode wheel.
Still, the chromed buttons look good, with none of the dated brashness of the squared buttons of the mju 780. The light-up buttons are a nice touch, as ever.
The camera is easy to get to grips with and straightforward to use, as there are only the most basic of manual options. An excellent help function also explains what each button does when you press them.
The 1200 is feathery on features, and those it does include are limited: continuous mode only offers a low-resolution burst, and the self-timer merely gives you a 10-second option. It does have face detection, and smile-spotting shutter, but we're yet to be convinced of that feature's usefulness.
However, we were very pleased that in pressing the exposure compensation button, we could see real-time previews for each possible setting, so we could decide which option is the best for the scene.
Overall, though, we found the controls to be slightly idiosyncratic. The menu button takes you to a choice of menus rather than straight to the camera menu, requiring an extra button push. More annoying is the lack of one-touch exit from the menus.
When you have navigated a couple of levels into the menu system, you have to exit by going back through those levels. On other manufacturers' cameras, pressing the shutter often exits menus. Here, holding down the shutter button previews your image, but when you release the button you're back to the menu screen. The ability to preview changes made in the menus is a good idea, though.