25 Feb 2015

Olympus mju: II (Stylus Epic) vs XA2- to 40-exp or not to 40-exp?

I've recently got an Olympus mju: II A.K.A Stylus Epic in the rarer champagne (you wish you could fine one of these in your champagne, but I only mean it comes in champagne colour) but had no battery to test it, so I kept it aside until not long later I was gifted a Minolta Riva zoom 140ex with film and batteries in it. I decided to swap the film from a Minolta 140ex into the Olympus mju: II. As I load the film into the Epic in the video above, I discuss the tiny size and why despite the lack of distance between the canister and the frame, you may still be unable to get 40 frames our of a 36-exposure film canister, in comparison to the Olympus XA2, in which you can.

The XA2 is able to let you squeeze 40 exposure out of a 36-exposur canister. The reason is that it does not waste any space between the canister and the film edge, both after the leader and by the end of the roll. This space is usually wasted in other cameras. What helps you get it is that the camera in in fact a manual-film-advance one, so if you are careful enough, you can get an extra two frames at the beginning, and continue to shoot two extra frames in the end.

The mju: II (Stylus Epic) is fully automatic in every regard including loading and rewind. It does not let you decide how much leader goes into the spool before you start shooting, and I suppose it will rewind the thing automatically once the counter reaches 36.

Notice that the mju: II (Stylus Epic) lacks geared sprockets. It does not, like its XA cousins, count the sprockets to know that you have in fact advanced a single frame. Instead, it has an infrared sensor which counts the sprocket wholes in the film. The amount it advances is therefore measured digitally by the infrared sensor. You know what that also means? Partial rewinding or multi-exposures is impossible in this camera. :)

It therefore takes the title point-and-shoot to its ultimate conception, which must appeal to point-and-shooters but less so to more advanced photographers who would like any amount of manual control or hackability, but it is still seen as one of the best 35mm pocket point and shoots out there due to the legendary status of its optical eye.