Project 02 – Olympus Mju II

Project 02 – Olympus Mju II

One of the most popular cameras of the 1990s, it is a modern classic – an affordable, stylish, light, small, splash proof camera with a fast and sharp lens coupled with accurate AF. There’s almost no downside to the camera and it is no wonder that Olympus sold almost 4m of this particular model worldwide.

It is one of the cameras I was most excited to modify to fit on my digital cameras. The process itself, however, was far from easy and involved many iterations of the final version of the adapter which I am showcasing here. The challenges were mainly to do with the extraction of the lens unit and then the designing of the adapter which would articulate the shutter/exposure mechanism which is conveniently integrated within the lens assembly unit – which can be extracted (with difficulty) as a single unit. More information can be found in the appropriate project areas.

Lens: 35mm, f/2.8, focusing from 0.35m-infinity. (4 elements in 4 groups)

Optical system construction: Lens is encased in an extended mono block plastic cylinder with 4 lugs which hold the lens block in place on a focusing platform. Also attached to the unit is a combination aperture and shutter mechanism.

Shutter and Aperture: Combined Shutter/Aperture mechanism, single set of 3 blades. Iris is a non linear triangle shape.

Common Failures:

  1. Battery door failure – very common and replaceable, unless the surrounding area where the door is mounted is also damaged (also common). Tape is crude and effective way to cure this but, inevitably, this is one of the most common source for cheap Mjus on sale on eBay
  2. Film Transport/micro switch failures: many symptoms for this, ranging from total failure in transport operability, to partial failure with some forms of film transport and flash failure. The latter is caused by the micro switch failure which syncs shutter to flash operations. Both are interlinked and made mainly out of plastic, which has a tendency to fail. Transport mechanism failures can be fixed using gearing from a donor camera but micro switch failures are almost impossible to fix.

Lens Removal:

This is guide on how to remove the lens out of a Olympus Mju II. It is NOT a repair manual. All the cameras I extract lenses from are beyond repair and my method of removing lenses is based on the easiest way of removing the lens at the expense of the donor camera.

The Olympus Mju II is a very densely packed camera, it’s compact form factor means that everything is very tightly packed into the compact body.

disassemble_1Step 1 – Separate the front and back clamshell 

The Olympus Mju II is a splash proof camera and front and rear clamshells are designed to keep moisture out of the camera. The first step is to separate these two by popping open the rear film chamber door and removing the screws highlighted in orange

Step 2 – It gets ugly, you get creative

See a screw, remove a screw. That is the basic idea. The good news is that most of the parts are plastic so where there is resistance, its relatively easy to break the bits that stand in the way to you getting to lens. There is no way of extracting the lens without sacrificing the camera in entirety, be very clear about this. It’s not a case of being careful, some of the parts in the camera are welded together and can only be forcefully separated, with no chance of reassembly.

The Prize. The extracted lens unit is approximately 24mm at it’s widest (not including the lens mounting lugs) and 25 mm high.

The rear of the lens. Note the large and bulbous rear element (compared to the front). This throws light at acute angles towards the edges.

Rear, the aperture/shutter wide open. Actuation of the aperture/shutter is via a tab in the bottom right of the lens unit.

 

Aperture/shutter closed down approximately half way. Note the triangular aperture. The aperture/shutter will close down completely when fully articulated.

Method of conversion:

  • Complex 3d printed mount in two parts, secured with a screw
  • Lens mounted between base of the mount and secondary enclosure
  • Base unit  has prongs to articulate shutter/aperture blades
  • Mount coupled to Leica M mount close focus helicoid

The adapter mount consists of two pieces – a base unit and a lens mount, which also has a handle to articulate the lens unit’s aperture/shutter mechanism

The lens unit mounts onto the lens mount piece by friction fit. It will be farther secured when attached to the base unit which has a lip to prevent the lens and mount units from travelling

 

The lens and lens mount unit is attached to the base unit. The base unit has a pair of prongs to articulate the shutter/aperture mechanism

The base unit has a slit to allow for the articulation of the shutter/aperture mechanism

 

The anchor screw attaches to the lens mount unit via a point which is printed in the lens mount unit. Here, I’m showing the mounting point without the outer base unit attached.

The final, assembled adapter, with both units attached. The lever on the bottom left is used to articulate the shutter/aperture mechanism.

Sample Images

Sony A7M2, 35mm f3.5, 1/3200th sec, ISO 100
Sony NEX-6, 35mm f3.5, 1/200th sec, ISO 100
Sony A7M2, 35mm f3.5, 1/250th sec, ISO 100

Some initial photos taken with the lens, full resolution versions and more photos taken with the lens can be found in on my Flickr album

Results and Conclusion:

The Mju II is the first real disappointment I’ve had so far (I’m sure that there will be more) in my efforts to convert compact camera lenses to work on digital cameras.

As you can see, the results from the images I have used to summarise the lens performance, the images are tack sharp in the centre but this sharpness rapidly disappears towards the edges. Additionally, closing the aperture/shutter blades does little to increase the depth of field of the image captured or increase edge sharpness.

The main culprit for this is the, bulbous, wide rear element which spreads the image from the lens across the size of a 35mm frame. The flange distance between this element and the film plane is very small – approx 9 millimetres. The last element in the lens group does this by distributing light onto the film plane at very acute angles. Fine if it the final capturing medium is film, not so good if the capturing is being done by a digital sensor with a (relatively) thick piece of glass in front of it. The results are a distinctively smeared image and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

It’s a major disappointment as this is undoubtedly a very sharp and fast lens. Being able to utilise this on digital cameras would have been a major achievement. As it stands, I cannot recommend that you try to convert this lens for any practical purpose. The narrow flange distance and rear lens element characteristics mean that you will never be able to overcome the edge performance characteristics with the current digital sensor technology.

Additionally, the 9mm gap means that the converted lens will not mount on most APS-C sensor cameras as most of them have a blanking plate around the sensor which will prevent mounting of the lens. The lens (with enclosure) diameter is wider than an APS-C sensor so it will only mount on a full frame sensor camera.

Having said that, I learnt a lot converting this lens and look forward to seeing how it can potentially perform on my M mount film cameras, using hyperfocal focusing. Watch this space, as they say.

Flikr Groups:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/659149@N23/

Camera Review links:

http://www.35mmc.com/05/06/2013/yashica-t5-the-path-to-enlightenment-part-1/

Shinjuku Camera Shop Walk

Shinjuku Camera Shop Walk

I’m lucky in that I have the opportunity to visit Japan at least once a year and when I do, it’s a must to go camera hunting in Tokyo.

There are a few guides I use to this purpose and they are the excellent Tokyo camera shops guides by Japan Camera Hunter (aka Bellamy Hunt) – http://www.japancamerahunter.com/2013/05/the-complete-tokyo-camera-shopping-guide/ and http://photojpn.org/news/2016/02/used-camera-shops-in-tokyo/ by both are excellent and easy to comprehend.

Bellamy, a British ex-pat has also got some valuable insight to etiquette when dealing with the shopkeepers. Some of it is cultural but certainly, as a foreigner who speaks Japanese, he has some interesting points to make about the way the shops/shopkeepers of each particular establishment conduct themselves.

The second guide is great as it’s a slightly more comprehensive list of the used camera shops in Tokyo, including the ones outside of Tokyo. It has links to the shop’s websites which fits in with my, personal, preference to look at the websites first and make a trip out if I find something which I am particularly interested in. A tip if you do the same, check out the blogs/articles too as the stock lists of a lot of these companies don’t get updated that often. And, yes, I use Google Translate and it works well enough Japanese to English.

Regardless of whether there is something that I am interested or not, I usually make a trip out to Shinjuku, where there are a cluster of shops which do a very good job of representing the scope of camera shops and goods available in Tokyo AND are within 70m of each other.  The third guide I use extensively is a now defunct “Shinjuku Camera Shop Walk” guide by a contributor to the ‘Tokyo Camera Style’ website, which is what prompted me to do this guide. What I found particularly useful is the visual walkthrough to these shops. The visual walkthrough is particularly useful for people like me who are unable to read Japanese and the shops themselves are often not very well sign boarded with difficult to find entrances.

Area and Shops

The reason I choose to visit Shinjuku regularly, aside from the fact that these cluster of shops are really close by is that the two main areas for camera shops in Tokyo are in Ginza and Shinjuku. Ginza is an upmarket part of Tokyo and I feel very self-conscious walking around there because I look scruffy at best. Certainly, there are great shops there and Nikon House is an incredible visit regardless of your feelings towards the Nikon brand. But for a quick, accessible and varied selection of camera shops which you can spend as much or little time as you like, you really cannot beat Shinjuku.

The shops I will be walking you through will be are the following:

  • Yodobashi Camera – this is a national chain of camera, computer and electrical appliances shops. It represents a more commercial camera shop within this cluster, Notable, however, for having a really great film photography section with aisles (yes aisles!) of film and film photography related products. No second hand goods here but they offer Tax free shopping and extra discount for using certain credit cards
  • Map Camera – Probably my favourite shop to visit when I have a need to buy something new, especially Voigtlander stuff. They have always got a good selection of new and used Leica equipment in the basement and new Leica models on display which you can handle freely. They also offer tax free shopping.
  • Kitamura Camera – according to Japan Camera Hunter, one of the larger national chain groups in Japan. The Shinjuku branch has a good range of products. I’ve never bought anything in my visits there but it’s always got at least one item which tempts me. They say that they offer Tax Free shopping but, not having bought anything from them previously, I cannot vouch for that. A lot of their stock seems to be on consignment and I imagine that different rules apply
  • Lemon – Lemon Sha are part of the Naniwa Group of camera shops which is national and extensive. I do not know if they (Naniwa Group) are larger than Kitamura but they are certainly not as integrated. I tried to purchase an item from the Osaka branch of the Naniwa Group, offering to pay for the delivery costs but was met with the most polite but resounding NO. They offer tax free shopping but again I suspect that only on non-consignment goods.
  • Chukko Camera Box – Second most difficult of the shop in this cluster to find, it’s in basement of a very inconspicuous building with no signage save a small sign almost outside their shop. Nothing to spot from the main street. But, what a treasure trove of brick a brac. It’s hands down the best place to find a bargain outside of a flea market. Prices are both reasonable and stock is as varied as you’d like it to be. Look hard because their displays are so crammed that it’s easy to miss stuff. Don’t ask for Tax Free rebate unless you are curious to find out how Japanese people laugh.
  • New Camera – bit of a misnomer. Not much new stuff here but a really great selection of reasonably priced. It’s the only place I found Contax N equipment (what I was looking for). I found the shopkeepers are patient and tolerant and polite. Most of their items are on consignment so prices are varied. It also means that there’s no chance of Tax Free shopping.

The Route

The starting point to get to the cluster will be Shinjuku station. In the previous guide I used, the visual walkthrough began from the subway system. I did not find the bits showing you how to get to the area the shops are at to be particularly useful. There are too many variables and exit points to leave the subway to be useful. It also depends on which subway line you travel to Shinjuku on. The nearest exit point for trains arriving from the Shinjuku Line is completely different than if you travel into Shinjuku via the Marunouchi Line for example.

Stage 1 – Getting to the cluster and Yodobashi Camera

route_stage_1Best begin at ground level in an easy to locate place and guide you. The point of departure I have chosen is the Lumine department store. It’s well signposted throughout the subway.

Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with the shop, I have never bought anything let alone receive any sort of payment from them. In fact, I feel guilty sending you out their front door.

But out their ground floor main entrance you must go. Click on any of the images below to go to Google Street View, it will help orientate you. Clicking on the back button will bring you back to the guide.

As you exit the main entrance, there will be 2 sets of crossings. Cross over the other side of the one your right.

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Go past the KFC (yes, it tastes the same as the KFC in your own country), and the 2 banks after that. Take the left after MUFG Bank, the road between the bank and the clothing shop.

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Walk 20m ahead

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You should see some Yodobashi camera shops on your left and right (their departments are spread across a few buildings). The Yodobashi camera department on your left will be for camera gear on the ground floor, tripods and other photography gear in the upper floors. It’s right opposite the McDonalds.

Walk past the camera department and look down the first alleyway on your right, halfway down, you should see the Yodobashi Film Ddepartment.

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Stage 2 – Yodobashi to Lemon Camera

Walk back out to the street where the Yodobashi Camera Department and McDonalds  and turn right.

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Walk to the end of the street and turn right.

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Walk along the street until you come to an intersection with Aladdin Entertainment Parlour on your left and a Pharmacy on your right. You can just about see Lemon camera shop on the 3rd floor, above the pharmacy.

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Turn left, the entrance to Lemon is as highlighted below

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Stage 2 – To Kitamura Camera and Map Camera

Back on the ground floor. Turn left

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and walk 2 blocks until you come to an intersection, with the Sega arcade in front of you.

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Turn left and walk about 5 meters, Kitamura Camera‘s entrance is highlighted on the left, right next to the SoftBank shop. Map Camera is another 20m down the road, highlighted on the right.

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Stage 3 – To Chuuko Box Camera

Back on street level, having left Map Camera, turn right

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Head down 2 blocks until you come to a pedestrian crossing. There is a karaoke lounge on your right, BigEcho

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Looking from across the street, the entrance to Chuuko is just to the side of  the karaoke place. If you go past the Doutor coffee shop, you’ve passed it.

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The shop is in the Basement. Get ready to dive through displays and boxes!

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Stage 4 – To New Camera

As you leave Chuuko Box Camera, turn right on street level and walk past the Doutor coffee shop ad go down the first alley way to your right. Alley way, not street. New Camera is the most difficult to find as there are no signs in English and the entrance is in an alley way.

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When you go down the alleyway, look for an entrance immediately before reaching the ABC Mart shoe shop.

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Congratulations! You’ve just completed a mini tour of camera shops in Shinjuku. Doing this round will give you an idea of the range of second hand camera shops in Tokyo. If you’re feeling adventurous, I recommend you check out the following nearby camera shops.

They are spread a bit farther out from the main cluster of shops but worth the effort if you have the time and inclination. All info from Japan Camera Hunter’s guide (Google Map location link):