The Mju 9000 is the world's smallest camera with a 10x optical zoom. It has a 12-megapixel sensor, is available in either black or champagne in Australia, and retails for AU$599.
From the outside, the 9000 looks like a slick picture taking machine. The chrome accents on either side, silver accents around the lens ring, shiny black body and slim footprint all lend themselves to this assumption. Certainly it's the most stylish camera in the current Olympus range.
From the outside it looks compact but it's actually quite heavy (at 185g) thanks to the 10x optical zoom housed inside. It is, however, the smallest and lightest compact available that has a 10x zoom. At the front is a curved flash unit nestled above the brand logo, and the lens itself takes up most of the remaining space.
Turn it around and the 2.7-inch LCD screen is flanked by semi-gloss backlit buttons and a mode dial that allows you to select between several options (from full intelligent auto, program, playback, movie, scene and beauty mode). The zoom rocker is a little fiddly at first, being relegated to a small switch next to the shutter button, but using it soon becomes easy. Overall it's quite a nice camera to hold, being evenly weighted and easy to grasp in one hand.
Stylistically it's quite similar to the Mju 1060, but it does have several notable upgrades (zoom length, megapixel count). The screen has been downgraded to 2.7-inch from 3-inch though.
The Mju 9000 is particularly impressive when you first look at its main calling card — the 10x optical zoom lens. Extending it is an experience in itself — it's quick to respond, and folds flat onto itself as you return it to its housing. The lens also only just protrudes slightly from the body. More good news comes with the widest end of the lens — 28mm — which is sure to impress. Maximum aperture is a little disappointing at only f/3.2 but seeing as there is no manual mode on the 9000 it's not that much of a downside.
Memory card format remains the same, using the standard xD (not nice) and microSD (slightly better). Image stabilisation is also provided. Beauty mode, as we first encountered on the Mju 7000., makes a repeat appearance here and is still suitably quirky, but mostly pointless. There is no HDMI output on the 9000 — for that feature you'll have to invest in the
Performance and image quality
Start-up time was much slower than we anticipated, and strangely enough it wasn't because the lens needed time to extend (this was actually rather speedy once the camera had powered on). Instead it was the Olympus logo displayed on-screen that seemed to take up much of the initialisation time.