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Christmas Gift Guide

We're unashamed sci-fi nerds here at CNET UK, and one of our favourite things is looking at what the futurists of the past thought the future of today would look like. Which explains why we like the 12-megapixel Olympus mju-7000 camera so much.

It looks gracefully gorgeous, our two-tone silver and black version feeling retro and yet modern at the same type: with its clean lines and light-up plastic buttons it resembles a prop from a 1970s sci-fi show imagining what a camera would look like in the 1990s.

It's not just the styling that's interesting about the 7000's design: it packs in a large 7x zoom lens into its svelte frame. Anyone interested in the long zoom capability of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6 but put off by that camera's bulk would do well to give the much more pocket-friendly 7000 a spin. Admittedly, at the wide end its 37mm equivalent focal length isn't much to write home, but if your priority's the line of your trousers it's worth a look.

Our favourite feature so far is the nifty panorama mode, which requires only one press of the shutter release. The camera locks onto a spot at one side of the image, and gives you an onscreen target. When you move the camera to match the target to the spot, the frame is immediately captured. You do it again and you have yourself a peachy three-image panorama.

Slightly less impressive features include a beauty mode, which -- actually, don't get us started. Click through our gallery to see more, including pricing and availability.

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Our sample is the gorgeous retro two-tone silver and black model. A blue and black variant is also available, as is a straight-up black all over version.
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The 7000 sports a whopping 7x zoom lens, with an equivalent focal length of 37-260mm.
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Here's the 76mm (3-inch) screen, showing the shooting menu and CNET UK's famous ball pit. Not that anyone ever plays in there: an IT admin went in in 2007 and never came out. Some say his spirit roams the offices at night, and if you listen closely you'll hear him moaning softly about compiler errors.
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The buttons feature transparent covers and light up, adding to the retro sci-fi look.
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Hitting the menu button takes you to this swish animated home menu screen.
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In shooting mode, the delete button gives quick access to panorama mode, shadow adjustment or a window mode that puts four images together.
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Here's the HDMI connection and USB socket, which doubles -- nay, triples -- as a DC in and A/V out.
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Olympus continues to support the dead duck xD memory card format, but also bundles a microSD adaptor so you can buy one type of card for both your phone and your camera.
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The Olympus mju-7000 is available now for just under £200.
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