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Olympus mju 830 review: Olympus mju 830

The Olympus mju 830 is no fair-weather friend. Its sturdy metal body with rubber seals means it's splashproof, and while you won't want to take it swimming, it can certainly withstand the weather. There's a wealth of scene modes available, helping to tick all the point-and-shoot boxes

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Richard Trenholm
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Richard Trenholm

Movie and TV Senior Editor

Richard Trenholm is CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture over the past 15 years from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.

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4 min read

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.

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6.5

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

Design
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.

Features
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.

Performance
The 830 starts in less than 1.5 seconds, and takes 2 seconds between single shots, which is reasonable. In continuous mode, the 830 manages a respectable 1 frame per second at full resolution, although like many other compacts it can only keep that up for three shots before stopping. This is a frustrating trend in point-and-shoots. Higher-end type H xD cards will keep going indefinitely, however, while 3-megapixel images can be captured at 4fps.

Similarly, the SHQ movie mode -- 640x480 pixels at 30fps -- is limited to 10 seconds. Long enough for someone falling over on YouTube, but not much else. HQ -- 320x240 pixels at 30fps -- or SQ -- 160x120 pixels at 15fps -- will fill the memory.

Our biggest concern with the 830 was its autofocus function. Our model was extremely temperamental, locking focus quickly and reasonably accurately before changing its mind and hunting around. This got tedious very quickly, especially with no manual focus option. The lack of focus assist lamp meant that the 830 really struggled to focus in low light.

Image quality
Image quality -- when the autofocus made its mind up -- was better than we expected. Metering is excellent, although as with all compacts it pays to familiarise yourself with the white balance function. Colours are reproduced well, with a richness to portraits that impressed us. Noise is, as ever, a problem at higher ISO settings with unsightly speckles creeping into darker areas of images from ISO 200 and up.

There is some barrel distortion in evidence at the wide end of the zoom, with images also tending to soften towards the edges. This is only really evident upon close inspection on a computer monitor, though.

Conclusion
The Olympus mju 830 ticks all the point-and-shoot boxes. It's very pocketable, takes half-decent images and is comparatively affordable. Nonetheless we can't help damning it with faint praise. The two stand-out features are the weatherproof seals and a long zoom. But the fact you can get the 830 damp just can't compete with the ruggedness of the Olympus 790.

Meanwhile, in the longer-zoom compact market it doesn't hold a candle to the sexiness of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX-33. While the 830 is a perfectly good snapper, the autofocus issues would see us spending more on a flashier model.

Editing by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday

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