Is that a zoom lens in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It’s just that the Olympus μ[mju:] Zoom 140 packs an awful lot of zoom into such a tiny camera.

Olympus µ(mju:) Zoom 140

The Zoom 140 isn’t as svelte as other cameras in the μ line (known as the Stylus line in North America). I suppose they couldn’t cram a 140mm zoom lens into a skinnier body. By the way, this camera came to me in a camera swap with Peggy Anne, who writes the terrific Camera Go Camera blog. I sent her my Olympus 35RC in exchange.

Olympus µ(mju:) Zoom 140

The Zoom 140 is as fully featured as you’d expect from any Stylus or µ camera. It begins with a 38-140mm f/4-11 lens, of 10 elements in 8 groups. It reads the DX code on the film canister to set ISO from 50 to 3200. The Zoom 140 automatically focuses using an phase-detection system, advanced for its time and a first among µ/Stylus cameras.

Olympus µ(mju:) Zoom 140

It also automatically sets exposure, as you’d expect; you can choose between a three-zone pattern or spot metering. The built-in flash is on by default, although it fires only when the camera needs more light. You can turn it off or set it to any of five other modes, including red eye and fill. The Zoom 140 includes a self-timer and — very nice for my aging eyes — a viewfinder dioptric correction dial. It really brought subjects into crisp view. The camera is also weather resistant; a little light rain won’t harm it. A CR123A battery powers everything.

Olympus µ(mju:) Zoom 140

By the way, if you like compact 35mm cameras, also check out my reviews of other little Olympuses, such as the Stylus Epic Zoom 80 (here), the XA (here) and XA2 (here), as well as of the μ[mju:] Zoom 140 (here). You could go up a little in size and experience the legendary Trip 35 (here). Or just check out my master list of camera reviews, here.

These little Olympuses love black-and-white film, so I loaded some Fomapan 200.

Film loading is automatic: stretch the film across to the takeup spool and close the door. The camera takes it from there, winding to the first frame, advancing the film when you press the shutter button, and rewinding the film at the end.

I went to some of my usual haunts with the Zoom 140, including Washington Park North Cemetery.

Roman numerals

Little point-and-shoot cameras are great for walking-around photography, especially when they pack a lens as sharp and contrasty as this one.

Fountain before the fire department

The Zoom 140 was good at recognizing what I meant the subject to be. That’s not a given with every autofocus compact! For distant subjects it brought everything into focus; for close subjects, it tried its best to create a blurred background.

Proclaim Liberty

Typical of always-on flashes, the Zoom 140’s flash sometimes fired when I preferred it didn’t. And typical of zoom point-and-shoots, the lens goes soft at maximum zoom, as the photo below shows.

Chunky SUV

Back it a hair off maximum and the lens just keeps delivering. This is a camera worth getting to know much better.

Church entrance

I took the Zoom 140 with me on my bike ride up the Michigan Road. This is where I found the camera’s slight chunkiness to be a problem: it simply would not fit into the back pocket of my jeans. So I switched to cargo shorts and slipped it into a side pocket.

School No. 7

Zoom lenses are wonderful on road trips. It’s not always practical to cross a busy road to get near a subject. The zoom lens does the walking.

Discount Tire

The versatile Zoom 140 knows how to play any game I have in mind. Documentary photography from a distance? Absolutely. Something more creative? Well, sure! If I didn’t know better, from the test roll’s results I’d say the camera was reading my mind on each shot.

Reflective Posts

Would you guess this scene is in the city of Indianapolis? I photographed this just a short distance off Michigan Road in Augusta, a former town.

Horses in Augusta

Finally, one Saturday morning I awoke to interesting light outside my bedroom window. I grabbed the Zoom 140 and stepped into the yard to try to capture it.

Sunlight on the fence

To see more photos from this camera, check out my Olympus μ[mju:] Zoom 140 gallery.

The Olympus μ[mju:] Zoom 140 is a winner. Olympus made a bunch of models in its μ/Stylus series. After shooting several of them, I feel sure all of them must boast very nice lenses. If you’re looking for a capable point-and-shoot 35mm camera, try a μ/Stylus — any μ/Stylus.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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33 responses to “Olympus μ[mju:] Zoom 140”

  1. dan james Avatar

    Jim, some impressive shots with the little Olympus.

    I hope this wasn’t a permanent swap – I sold a 35RC last year for north of £50 and have picked up these mju zooms for less than a fiver!

    Personally I wouldn’t look beyond the Pentax Espio/IQZoom range for a compact zoom. I’ve had a couple of the mjus and they’re weren’t in the same class in the final result, and the Pentax cameras just feel better somehow.

    The pick in my experience is the 24EW which has a very capable lens starting at 24mm, or the possibly even sharper 120SW which goes to 28mm. Both options give a significantly wider view than the standard 38mm of most compact zooms.

    The older (and I think first Espio?) Espio AF Zoom is arguably the best of all Espios, with a 35-70mm lens, plenty of features (including multiple exposures), and genuinely pretty compact. I got some fabulous results with it, and indeed the other two mentioned above.

    There’s an Espio 928 too – quite bulky and not pocketable, but again a zoom lens starting at 28mm and packed with features. Again it really impressed me in the final image.

    For a fixed lens compact, I’d come back to Olympus though – the original mju remains my favourite!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This was a permanent swap. I was happy to send my 35RC to a new home. I wasn’t going to use it anymore anyway.

      My only experience with the Espio line didn’t have me wanting to try more, but perhaps I didn’t get a great example of the series:

    2. Makenna Avatar

      Can it use color film? I was recently gifted one and want to be sure before buying the wrong kind.

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        Yes, it can use color film!

  2. AskDaralynn Avatar

    I loved this post. The church shot is my favorite.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! The tones did come out nicely on that one!

  3. nobbyknipst Avatar

    The black and white shots are looking very good! Well done, Jim and Olympus ;-) The cam seems to be near new. I would have bought it too!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! This camera really loved that Fomapan 200!

  4. Joshua Fast Avatar
    Joshua Fast

    You made Foma look good, the tones are amazing. Probably my choice of developer but I’ve never had good results with the Foma line. I’ve had several stylus/mju and as much as I’ve wanted to hate them from all of the hype, i really can’t. They are as good as the reviews suggest. I’ve had a few with light leaks but when they work they really produce.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I like Fomapan 200. The 100, not so much. But every time I’ve used the 200 it’s performed for me. I think I’m out of the stuff now but at this price for this performance it’s a great film to keep on hand. I like ISO 200 for everyday shooting too.

      I’ve had a couple Stylus cameras with leaks too. The Stylus Epic Zoom 80 is a chief offender.

  5. windswept007 Avatar

    I haven’t had the chance to us the RC yet, but think link to your review of it made it move up my list. Super shots from both Olympus cameras.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Enjoy the RC when you get to it! It’s not a perfect, pristine example but it functions well enough.

  6. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Olympus, Canon and Nikon were all putting out some super capable, feature-packed point and shoots towards the end of the film era. This looks like one of them.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It is! Only thing that would make it better is if it were thinner.

  7. tbm3fan Avatar

    I tend to look at these end of the film era point and shoots as lesser quality in the lens. In the mid-90’s I took two different ones on my trips to the Philippines after deciding lugging around an SLR et al was definitely not practical when on the move. I can recall one was Pentax and the sharpness was not that great. Actually disappointing since those shots could never be duplicated again.

    You mention trading your RC of which I happen to have one among the small rangefinders of years past. Have extensive experience with the Hi-Matic E which is a great little one. So Labor Day weekend I decided I would go the Golden Gate National Cemetery to pay my respects to some gravesites and then onto San Francisco. Decided it was time to try something small and inconspicuous. Pulled the RC out, resealed the night before, and then loaded color for the next day. Film now at Dwayne’s along with old refrigerated Agfa slide film from many moons ago.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Every mju/Stylus camera I’ve shot has had a wonderful lens. But I know what you mean about the lenses in the late P&S cameras.

      I didn’t bond with my RC. It’s part of why I sent it on in this swap. I know most film photographers seem to like them, and so I figured it made sense to send it to someone who might enjoy it more.

      1. musttryharderblog Avatar

        Hi Jim,
        I recently picked up one of these for £2 in a charity shop in the UK. Like you I’m very impressed, especially with the autofocus.
        You mentioned that this is based on phase detection, do you have any more details? Does the camera have a mini digital sensor in it?

        1. musttryharderblog Avatar

          Sorry Jim,
          My comment is in the wrong place…must try harder!!

        2. Jim Grey Avatar

          I don’t know much more about it but I’d have to think there’s a CCD in there if it’s using phase detection.

  8. Mike Connealy Avatar

    You got some very nice results from that camera and film combination. I had a similar Stylus Zoom with a few less features that also performed pretty well. I only shot a single roll with it, so can’t really claim any authority in talking about it. The only negative things I recall was that it was kind of noisy, and the zoom seemed to extend rather slowly.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for reminding me that the zoom on this one was slow, too. Not maddeningly so, but I was always aware of the time it was taking.

  9. SilverFox Avatar

    Wow! I’ve not see a zoom like that on a compact. Looks like you had some fun with it.

  10. Sam Avatar

    Hey Jim, great post! One of the things I love about your site is that you review obscure and forgotten cameras such as this. Great shots!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m always looking for that camera that nobody expects to perform as well as it does. There’s a perverse satisfaction in me when it happens!

  11. […] recently exchanged cameras with another camera blogger, this is the one I got in return. I have tried the DC, EC, and ED. This one has the 2.8 lens like […]

  12. David Wilkes Avatar
    David Wilkes

    Just returned from a visit to London with OLympus 140 zoom.Excellent results and as you say good contrast and sharp.I didn’t miss my usual yellow filter but did miss a lens hood! Like my Mju-1 you have to watch for flare.I used that camera again recently in Devon and ensured that my hand was ready to shield the lens as necessary;no real problems but I got caught out once or twice with the 140 zoom but otherwise it’s a cracker.By the way,why does everyone rave about the Mju-11.It’s almost impossible to distinguish the difference unless you are enlarging say to 18x12etc..My professional developer friend agrees.But,having purchased a Mju-11 recently for £4.00 (about $6.00?) I decided to sell it after using it and capitalize on the crazy market for these cameras.I sold it for £180! Camera collecting can have other benefits.I am now coming down to earth by using a Yashica TL Electro and 50mm lens total weight c.900 gms,an absolute brute of a camera but another experience!
    David Wilkes

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You put your finger right on it: any of the mju/stylus cameras are great, so buy one of the non-famous ones to save serious cash!

  13. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    Wow, if you want to swap something like a 35RC for a late-era Olympus compact zoom, have I got some deals for you!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It was a generous swap but my RC had some issues and frankly I didn’t enjoy using it that much.

  14. David Wilkes Avatar
    David Wilkes

    I thought that Fomapan 200 wasn’t DX coded so how did you manage this problem?Just a thought as ,after seeing your results,I have just purchased a roll which I intended to use in one of my mju’s.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hmm. I don’t remember! I think you’re right, and so now I have no idea how these photos turned out all right.

  15. Richard Avatar

    Thanks to David for prompting me to look at this thread!
    I know the manual says the lens is f/4-f/11 but says it is f/2.8-f/11.
    Anybody know which is correct?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m not sure but I’d guess f/4-11 is correct.

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