Over the last few years, I’ve tested a hell of a lot of Olympus MJU II’s and I’ve really got to grips with the real-life pros and cons of this cult classic camera. Along the way, I’ve discovered all of the reasons people love this camera and I’ve also got to grips with all of its common issues. With this experience, I can help you get the best out of your MJU II!
The Olympus MJU II (Or Stylus in the US) is one of the best point-and-shoot film cameras available. With its super sharp 2.8 – 35mm Lens, its completely weatherproof body, its ultra-compact design, and reliable nature, it really is something to behold. Ideal for nightlife, travel, and documenting life, this camera is the perfect all-rounder.
There’s a lot to say about the Olympus MJU II, in this article I’ll cover things like how much you should be paying in 2022, what makes it so good, where to buy one, and common issues.
Is The Olympus MJU II That Good?
The MJU II’s 2.8 – 35mm Lens makes it super fast and sharp, you’ll be able to get images with more depth of field due to the quality of the lens, and also: because it is a much better lens than most point and shoot cameras, you’ll get much more of your images in focus (a lot of the poorer quality camera with 2.8 lenses have a poor rate of focus).
The MJU II’s shutter speeds also go up to 1000th of a second which means you can get images with more action and movement without them being blurred. You can also focus as close as 0.35m which gives you the potential to take some really nice portraits (something that’s unlikely with most other point-and-shoots).
The camera has a number of different functions, auto, anti-red-eye, no flash, fill, and night scene and it also has a 12-second self-timer. Its autofocus is nearly unparalleled for a point and shoot, with active multi-beam autofocus with focus lock, this camera just rarely ever misses.
So we’ve heard the facts about the camera itself but what’s it like out in the wild?
Another big aspect that makes the MJU II so handy is just how compact it is, at 135g it’s absolutely tiny but it’s also really robust. This difference in size from some of the more boxy cameras means you’re much happier to slip it into your pocket at any time and therefore take more pictures. In my opinion, anything that makes you more likely to shoot more is positive. Small things like the size or build of your camera may cause you to decide not to take it out, this is a massive positive for the MJU II.
I’ve found that when shooting this on a night out, it’s just ideal, it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. That being said, what makes it good on a night out might also be annoying in the day, the camera forgets your settings every time you turn it off and on again which means it always powers up on auto. This is a common source of annoyance for some MJU II shooters because it can be quite flash-happy, again this is ideal for nightlife but in the daytime, you’ll have to cycle through the settings to find the no-flash symbol to ensure you don’t startle someone. I’d like to note, this isn’t a massive issue but it is worth keeping in mind.
In a sense, you’ll be saving money, with the number of images that will be in focus compared to a lot of other point and shoots, it kind of saves you from having wasted images. Yes the initial cost of the MJU II is quite a lot however, if you take care of it then it should hold its value.
So, to sum up, the MJU II is one of the most consistent, easy-to-use, and high-quality point-and-shoots out there that thankfully isn’t quite as expensive as the Yashicas or Contaxs of the film world. One of its only letdowns when it comes to function is that it forgets its settings when you turn it off and on. If you can forgive that then it’ll be a brilliant film companion for years to come.
Hey! Just starting out in photography? Read this article to save yourself a tonne of time!
How Much Should You Be Paying For An MJU II In 2023?
In 2023 the price of the MJU II should be around £175-£250 ($235 – $340) and the price depends on luck, condition, and where you’re buying it from. Yes, some may be online for more than this, I certainly wouldn’t go above £300 though, often the price can be more from a reputable seller, if you can afford then it’s worth having that element of security when making a purchase like this.
Obviously, it’s worth noting that the price has risen massively in the past 10 years due to popularity and scarcity, I don’t really see the price reducing unless the cost of camera film simply becomes far too much (this is possible but not likely).
If you’re wondering where to buy your camera from then I’d always suggest eBay, yes in the past eBay has been like the wild west but now there’s so much security for the buyer that nothing can really go wrong. If you’re good and take your time on eBay then you may well find what you’re looking for for a considerably better price.
Otherwise, you can buy from a well-known website or local camera shop, at the very least with a local shop you’ll be able to go back if something has gone wrong. Finally, you can use Etsy or another buying platform like it, I sell on Depop but I would say for a buyer it doesn’t give you nearly as much security.
What Film Should I Use With It?
Kodak Gold 200 will be a great film stock for the MJU II, it’s not too expensive and delivers beautiful golden images. While Kodak Portra 400 might be one of the best stocks, it’s set to rise in price in 2022. Kodak Gold will be ideal for your travel and nightlife shots.
If you want to shoot black and white film with the MJU II then something like Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5 will be a great option!
Common Issues With The MJU II
The common issues that I’ve noticed with the MJU II are as follows:
- Broken battery door (not major)
- Missing film window (Not Major)
- Lens extending but not going back (Major)
- Damage to the corner of the door (Usually not major depending on how severe)
Broken Battery Door On An MJU II
A broken battery door on an MJU II is really common, due to the way the battery door is open it can often break off a small part at the bottom. It’s not really a massive issue because the door can stay closed fairly well without this or you can tape it closed. If you really want to you can replace the MJUs door with another door from a broken MJU which is actually a really simple fix. (Check youtube)
Missing Film Window
This is quite common, the plastic window on the back of the camera to view which kind of film you have in it can sometimes come loose and end up in parts unknown. This is more annoying than anything, if you still have the plastic window then you can glue it back in place, you’ll only need the tiniest bit of glue.
If not then you might have to settle for a bit of sellotape, just make sure you put the tape on the outside of the body and not the inside where the light seals are. It may seem like a big issue to be missing this window but it won’t cause any light leaks or anything of that nature.
Lens extending but not going back
This is a common electrical fault with Olympus MJU II’s and you’ll pretty much definitely need to send this to a camera repair shop, they’ll probably tell you that there’s nothing they can do because Olympus MJU II’s are really hard to fix.
To elaborate on the issue, the lens will extend quite far out but won’t come back into the starting position until you close the clamshell door. In this instance, you might want to get on your knees and pray because it’s pretty dead. If you’ve just purchased the camera then you’ll definitely want to get back in touch with your supplier.
Damage to the corner of the film door
This seems to have been quite common, it must be quite a weak spot of the camera, the bottom left corner of the film door often gets cracked, presumably from being dropped at some point. This can be a minor issue and it requires you to try to work out if it’ll let any light in and also to be careful with it in the future.
If you’ve shot a roll of film with this crack and see no issues with your images then you don’t need to worry about it for now. If you’ve bought it and the seller didn’t note it then it’s worth mentioning and potentially asking for a partial refund as it may cause issues in the future.
There are certainly other issues that can arise with the MJU II but these are the most common that I’ve found, often most of the issues will be in a forum on google or in a youtube video but sometimes there’s very little you can do, the Olympus MJU II doesn’t want to be opened up and the flash can hold a lot of voltage even when it’s not been used for a long time, so be very careful.
Some Shots Taken With The MJU II
I’ll show a couple of shots I took a while ago using the MJU II and I usually just shot with basic Kodak 200 film for film tests.
Thanks for reading, hopefully, this provides a well-rounded view of the Olympus MJU II and answers any questions you might have. Oh yeah, also the camera takes CR123 batteries, they may also be called CR123A, they’re the same battery.