My small camera collection has so far mostly (but not entirely) focused on older rangefinder cameras. However, while browsing around looking for Olympus rangefinders I came across this camera. It’s much younger than most of my cameras having been produced from 1996 to 2003. It’s an Olympus Stylus Epic (or mju ii as it’s known outside the US). It’s not a rangefinder camera. To quote Wikipedia “The Epic has a fixed 35mm f/2.8 lens, and can focus down to 14 inches. It has a spot meter, and optional red eye reduction. The clamshell design is very tough and the camera can be carried in a pocket or handbag without fear of damage. The camera is also very lightweight (145 grams) and splash proof.” It also has an “active three point” exposure system, which is reputed to produce very accurate expoosures. My model also has a date back, which I don’t use.
The camera has something of a cult following. This has driven up the cost up of late. However, you can still find usable examples for between $50 and $100. You also might get lucky and find one at a garage sale or flea market for much less. Beware though. There are a number of “Stylus” models, most of them zooms. Although very cheap (I picked up one in pristine condition with a nice case in a thrift store for $4.99.) they do not have as good a reputation as this camera. The predecessor to this camera (Olympus Infinity Stylus or “mju” as it’s known outside the US) also has a good reputation. It’s less expensive than the Stylus Epic, has a slower lens, and lacks some of the Epic’s features.
Continue for pictures
I had read such good things about this camera that my expectations were high. I was in NY city and took a few shots. The results were……….awful. Specifically the pictures had extremely low contrast. Some of them were salvageable in post processing (e.g. the first three pictures below) but overall I was disappointed. Was the camera defective? Had I been too clever by using the spot meter incorrectly? Had something gone wrong with the film processing (done a local CVS)? All of these were certainly possible so I decided to give the camera a chance and try again. This time the results were………..amazing. I posted some of these pictures on Flickr and got more reactions (favourites, comments, invitations to post in groups etc.) than I have for any of my other pictures.
From the first roll – generally awful but some salvaged in post processing.
Fragment of Berlin Wall
From the facade of a church on fifth avenue.
Second roll – big improvement
Hudson view. Croton Point Park (not to be confused with Croton Landing Park. See earlier post), Westchester NY.
Brooding sky and snow. Again Croton Point Park.
Abandoned house on Oscawana Heights Road, Putnam Valley, NY.
Stone chamber – one of many in Putnam County, NY. But who built them……Opinions vary.
Bryant Pond Farm, Bryant Pond Road, Putnam Valley, NY