The 12-megapixel Olympus mju-7010 might sound like a minor upgrade to the mju-7000, which suffers from an ugly exterior and a run-of-the-mill 7x zoom. In fact, although the price is similar, at around £200, the mju-7010 looks and feels like a completely different camera.
It's two things that make the difference. Firstly, you still get a 7x zoom, but this time it's a wideangle one, offering the equivalent of 27-270mm. Secondly, the camera's had a redesign. It's prettier, slimmer and looks great.
The lens is pretty good, too. There's not much distortion, despite the zoom range, and the sharpness holds up even at full zoom. There's no sign of any chromatic aberration, either, although this may be down to some clever in-camera corrections, rather than the lens.
You don't just get a good zoom range but an excellent focus range too. The mju-7010's 'super macro' mode goes right down to 20mm, which lets you get amazing close-ups worthy of a digital SLR and a specialist macro lens.
The mju-7010's fine detail isn't stunning, but Olympus isn't the only camera maker that struggles to get any real resolution advantage from these 12-megapixel sensors. The camera tends towards overexposure now and again, but the colour rendition is good, and the mju-7010 performs well at high ISOs, too. The quality only drops markedly in the jump between ISO 800 and ISO 1,600.
The in-camera panorama-stitching mode is fast and fun, although it doesn't always disguise the joins that well, and the 'magic filters' (pop-art, sketch, pin hole and fisheye) are worth a try. You also get a neat focus-tracking feature that can follow your subject around the frame (after a brief delay) if either it or you move.
The illuminated navigation pad seen on other mju models is present too, and looks just as smart. There's also a new HyperCrystal II display that's apparently twice as bright as its predecessor, although the improvement doesn't exactly leap out at you.
Hard to fault
It's really hard to find anything negative to say about this camera. The pictures could perhaps be a fraction crisper, and, if you really want a long zoom range, there are plenty of cameras around that can go to 10x or even 12x without costing you any more. But the mju-7010 is so slim and neat that you might well prefer it to the likes of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6 or the Samsung WB500, for example.
If you want to change any settings that aren't on the quick-access function screen, you face something of a plod through the menus, but the mju-7010 isn't alone in that and, besides, if you're that keen on hands-on manual control, you're probably not going to be looking at a camera like this.
The Olympus mju-7010 is a huge improvement on the mju-7000. It fits much better into the mju series, offering a useful step up in zoom range from the mju-5000 without the bulk of the mju-9000. It's not revolutionary, but it's a good little camera nonetheless.
Editing by Charles Kloet