Written by Amy Berge
The Olympus Stylus Epic is a point and shoot film camera I added to my arsenal in December 2016. I was doing my research, trying to decide which point and shoot I wanted to buy, when I ran across this little beauty.
A Fixed Lens Point and Shoot
Also known as the Olympus MJU II in other parts of the world, this camera is a rarity with an aperture of 2.8 on a fixed 35mm lens. It’s darn near impossible to find an aperture that opens up that wide on a point and shoot! It’s also more affordable than some of its fixed focal length counterparts. (As an aside, if you’re looking for a point and shoot, having a fixed focal length is usually a good predictor of the quality of the point and shoot camera. It’s also why they are more expensive than zooms.) I was lucky enough to get mine for $60 before the point and shoot craze began, but you can find them on eBay for less than $200. (Find the Olympus Stylus Epic at KEH Camera or on eBay. There is also a zoom version of this camera, so if you want the fixed lens, you’ll want to look for listings that mention the 2.8 lens instead of a zoom lens.)
Design and Features of the Olympus Stylus Epic
The Stylus Epic was presented to the world in 1997, and it screams of a late 90’s camera. If I would have known this little thing existed back when I was 15, I’m sure I would’ve wanted it and carried it in my pocket at all times. (I honest to goodness ALWAYS had a camera on-hand in high school. Because I’m sure I was doing really awesome things that needed to be captured :::eye roll:::).
The Stylus Epic can focus as close as 14 in, has a built-in flash, red eye reduction, and a three-spot automatic exposure system. It’s a true point and shoot; it acts like a phone camera for film-lovers. I literally whip this thing out, point it, and fire away. There is nothing to fiddle with or that you really can fiddle with, except for the automatic exposure/focus lock.
Using the Automatic Exposure/Focus Lock
The automatic exposure/focus lock on the Stylus Epic is the one and only thing I ever mess with. If I know my subject is going to be backlit or have less light than the background, I use this trick. I point the camera toward the ground in a shady spot, depress the shutter button halfway to lock the exposure (which also locks the focus, so you have to be careful with this), recompose, and then press the button the rest of the way to take the shot.
Shooting with the Stylus Epic
I love this camera because I can capture my fast-moving kids without worrying about my settings or focus. My husband, who has also fallen in love with film, can use it without learning all the settings on an SLR. (And when he uses it, it means there’s a chance I’ll actually get in the frame.) He’s taken it on trips to the Boundary Waters, retreat weekends, our family camping trips, and vacations. He rocks it so often that I’ve included a few of his shots in this post.
If you long for the days of true snapshots, grainy images, and waiting for weeks to find out what you captured, I highly recommend this point and shoot film camera to you.
Thank you so much, Amy! You can check out Amy’s other Shoot It With Film articles here, including tutorials on how to develop b&w and color film!