Mods & DIY

Modification of Olympus mju-ii to retain flash settings – Part 2

After giving up on the idea of a software approach to modifying the Mju II, I decided to go analogue, which is how I came across Hamish’s article. I followed his advice and within 5 minutes my camera was rid of that one decisive flaw that had relegated it to the display cabinet: the inability to retain flash settings.

Every time you open the sliding door you risk firing the flash unless you disable it. Hamish’s solution worked: it was now possible to open and close the sliding door without the camera reverting to its default settings. The one compromise was that, instead of always having to remember to turn off the flash, you now had to remember not to fully depress the shutter button while the sliding door was closed, since this would cause the lens and sliding door to collide, stalling the camera and potentially damaging the lens. Since I am not in the habit of pressing the shutter button when the camera is closed, this compromise seemed acceptable. In a followup comment Hamish wrote that the camera would stall if left in hibernation for more than a couple of hours or so, whereupon one would have to take out the battery to reset it. I had the same experience. Since the battery door on my Mju II is broken, I would have to tape it shut with electrical tape. Having to remove the tape and take out the battery was becoming almost as much of an inconvenience as the original problem, at which point I decided to look for a more elegant solution. The following solution is quite simple and doesn’t necessarily require any soldering:

After having undertaken Hamish’s original mod, divert the battery’s circuit through a switch to avoid having to frequently remove the battery:

1) Get a small switch (e.g. from an old flash unit).

1

2) Cut a groove in the battery compartment to let the wires in

2

3) Stick the switch in the empty space directly beneath the battery door

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3A 3B 3C

4) Tape one of the wires flat against the bottom contact (both to secure the wire and to insulate it from contact with the battery)

4A 4B

5) Place the other wire on top of the tape against the positive pole of battery

5

6) Optional: I cut away the bottom part of the battery door so my switch didn’t have to sit at a right angle, but rather point straight up (and thereby avoid catching the lining of my pocket). Since the battery door on my Mju II was already broken, cutting the door down was not a sacrifice. If you do this, you will henceforth need to tape it shut.

6A 6B 6C 6D

Observations (based on my particular setup):

A) Don’t forget to open the sliding door before you switch on the camera at the beginning of your session, or before fully depressing the shutter button, as the camera has no way of knowing whether the sliding door is open or not. In both cases the lens protrudes and will collide with the door. The camera will stall and you may damage the lens. (This applies to Hamish’s original mod too: when you put in the battery, make sure the sliding door is open. This article assumes that you have already committed to the original mod and chosen the risk of lens damage over the inconvenience of flash amnesia).

B) When I first switch the camera on it takes four seconds to activate. During this time the battery indicator on the LCD is visible which could mean that the voltage is unstable. The indicator disappears when the lens pops out, but It seems like the LCD digits are slightly dimmer than they used to be. I do not yet know if this affects exposure readings. The four-second lag only occurs when you first switch it on, not when the camera wakes from sleep mode.

C) The camera will still stall if left in sleep mode for an extended period of time. Instead of taking out the battery, however, you only need to switch it off and wait about 20 seconds or so before switching it back on.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Modification of Olympus mju-ii to retain flash settings - 35mmc
    April 16, 2015 at 10:45 am

    […] After reading the post David (who commented below) submitted a next step in the modification process and added a switch to the bottom of the camera. You can read about it here […]

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Hamish Gill
    April 16, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Very cool!
    How far did you get with the software mod?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      David
      April 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      I gave up on the very idea! I have too little experience with the necessary component skills. As far as I could tell the components aren’t even flashable. Anyway, I came to my senses and realized that the little free time I have should be spent actually using my cameras instead of reading microcontroller manuals. I bought my Mju II at a thrift shop for about the price of a cup of coffee, so when I saw your post I was willing to risk the brute force approach. Keep it simple.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    ehpem
    April 17, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    I am trying to get used to my mjuii at the moment. The flash fires at some really unexpected moments, in situations where I doubt it is lighting anything effectively. Driving me nuts. But I really don’t want to mod it yet as I might abandon it to resale and it is in like-new condition with box etc. (I like my XA and XA2 better, and the mjuii has yet to grow on me, though it takes nice pictures). I have an mjui that is broken and should examine it to see if parts are interchangeable in case I do decide to try a mod – a reversible mod I could live with. If there was some way of reprogramming it, that would be awesome!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Terry
    November 5, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Like EHPEM, I have just bought this camera (as new, boxed and with remote control) for the cost of a roll of film and are now trying to find the best way to use it. So I’m fascinated at the perseverance of those on this excellent site to effect modifications to make the little camera work for them. As I never use flash I would be interested to know if it is possible to dose bale the flash entirely without affecting the performance of the camera in natural light.
    Terry

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Chris Bland
    January 28, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Why not just press the button twice before shooting. After a while you do it without thinking. It’s part of this fantastic cameras personality.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      David
      January 28, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      True enough. It probably has more to do with my own personality though. I got hung up on that one extra variable and found myself picking up my Olympux XA2 instead. The appeal of the mod was to approach the immediacy of the XA2, with the added advantage of precise focus at wider apertures. Most of all, however, I dreaded the flash firing in candid, stealthy situations.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Luca
    August 21, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    This is brilliant, thanks a lot for showing! I’d like to know tho if you’ve experienced any long time affects due to the mod? battery dying faster maybe? Have you actually used the camera with the mod done frequently? I’d like to go for it but paid a couple more bucks than you guys did for my mju2…not willing to take too much risk if you know what i mean 😉

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      August 22, 2016 at 8:54 am

      Hi Luca,

      I think it would work ok for a regular user of the camera who shots a lot in quicker succession – I actually ended up buying a new one and not modding it.
      Instead of the permanent mod I found putting a bit of blue tac in the door to stop it closing so easily in my pocket did just as good a job.

      Hope that helps

    • Avatar
      Reply
      David
      August 22, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      Hi Luca,

      It seems that the battery does get depleted after all, which means that Hamish’ original mod would suffice if you want to go down that road. I still have to take out the battery to keep it from going flat, so the switch doesn’t make much of a difference. Somebody with more experience might do a better job of installing a switch, so the idea might still be viable. As far as exposure goes, I haven’t been able to evaluate the results yet since I have a backlog of undeveloped film.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Luca
    August 22, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Ok…I’ll consider I guess. Thanks a lot guys, I appreciate your answers! Gonna let you know if I come up with any further ideas.
    – Luca

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Terry
    August 24, 2016 at 7:16 am

    Blue tac: the most liberating invention of the 20thC? However, I’ve now got used to the ‘double-press’ technique and have come to regard this as a characteristic, rather than a flaw. Perhaps, its all in the mind…

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      August 25, 2016 at 8:01 am

      That’s the view of Troy Holden I think, and he is arguably the modern day king of the mju-ii!

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Terry
        August 25, 2016 at 6:30 pm

        Maybe it’s a Zen thing…
        Troy is a terrific photographer- love his SF Market St images. Gave my son a Mju ii 15 years ago and it inspired him to become a professional photographer. Now this little thing has taken me back to the simple joys of film.

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