Olympus mju 830 review: Olympus mju 830

The Good Long zoom; weatherproof construction.

The Bad Temperamental autofocus; somewhat bland.

The Bottom Line The Olympus mju 830 is a decent enough point-and-shoot with weatherproof seals and a 5x zoom lens. It just isn't very sexy

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6.5 Overall

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The Olympus mju 830 is an update to the 780, and changes very little in the spec sheet. It is an 8-megapixel point-and-shoot with claims to be weatherproof. We braved the elements to find out if this £170 snapper is able to weather the storm of a CNET.co.uk review.

The 830 boasts a sturdy all-metal body. Rugged compacts seem to be Olympus' new favourite thing with the success of the mju 790, and now the 830. While not as indestructible as the 790, it's claimed to be at least weatherproof. It meets IEC standard publication 529 IPX4, which means it's splashproof, thanks to rubber seals on all the opening slots. Beware, however, that it is not fully waterproof and may not stand up to a dunking.

The 830's biggest selling point is a 5x zoom lens, which is satisfying longer than average at the telephoto end

Physically, little has changed from the 780. The 830 has the same modest dimensions and weighs the same. The 8-megapixel sensor is the biggest change. A 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD monitors feel a bit cramped these days, but at least the 830's five levels of brightness adjustment make it easy to see even outdoors.

The rectangular clickpad feels dated, although the light-up icons are a nice touch. At the top of the 830's frame sits a pesky digital image stabilisation button. While it's good that the option to turn this feature on and off easily is welcome, we'd rather not have it at all. Digital image stabilisation boosts the camera's ISO level, which allows you to shoot in lower light but in most cases leaves you with noisy pictures.

The 830's biggest selling point is a 5x zoom lens. The lens is equivalent to 36-180mm equivalent on a 35mm camera, which isn't particularly spacious at the wide end but is satisfying longer than average at the telephoto end. As long zooms are more prone to being effected by camera shake, the presence of mechanical image stabilisation is pleasing.

As on most compacts, there is a wealth of scene modes -- 22, in fact -- and, as on most compacts, a goodly number of them are of questionable value. Three of the 830's scene modes are underwater modes, but that doesn't mean you can take it swimming. Underwater cases are available at extra cost if you do fancy a dip.

An inevitable extra expense is the cost of buying xD cards. With Fujifilm wising up and adding SD card support to the FinePix range in time for the recent massive advances in SD and SDHC capacity, we would hope xD's days are numbered. Still, manufacturers love their proprietary technology and Olympus has rather cheekily required own-brand cards to work the 830's photo-stitching panorama feature.

A minor quibble is that the onscreen battery meter isn't very helpful, as it only has two bars so won't show battery level with any accuracy.

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