Camera Reviews, Film Photography

Olympus μ[mju:] Zoom 140

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 lens into a pocketable camera.

Olympus µ(mju:) Zoom 140

But you’ll need a roomy pocket for this chunky camera. I suppose they couldn’t cram a 140mm zoom lens into a skinnier body. The Zoom 140 is much thicker than any of the other μ[mju:] cameras I’ve owned. (Actually, I’ve owned a few Stylus cameras, which is what the series is called in North America. This is my first one labeled μ.)

Olympus µ(mju:) Zoom 140

This camera came to me in a camera swap with Peggy Anne, who writes the Camera Go Camera blog. I feature her film-camera experience reports all the time in my Saturday Recommended Reading posts. 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. It automatically focuses using an phase-detection system, advanced for its time and a first among µ/Stylus cameras. 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

I’ve been a black-and-white mood lately, 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. 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 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 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

But 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 in my sleeping clothes 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.

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.

To see the rest of my camera collection, click here
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20 thoughts on “Olympus μ[mju:] Zoom 140

  1. 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!

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  2. Joshua Fast says:

    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.

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    • 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.

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  3. 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.

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    • 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.

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  4. 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.

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  5. Pingback: Olympus 35 RC | Camera Go Camera

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