The What Digital Camera Olympus mju TOUGH-6010 review (Olympus Stylus TOUGH-6010) tests out just how tough this compact is...
The new Olympus mju TOUGH-6010 (Olympus Stylus TOUGH-6010 in the US) shares many of its features with the mju Tough-8000, launched earlier this year, including its sensor, lens and monitor. However the mju 6010 has a stylish new plastic body, a lot more attractive than the rather industrial-looking 8000. It’s not quite as tough, but it is still waterproof to a depth of 3m, can survive drops from 1.5m and temperatures down to -10° centigrade.
The body measures 95.3 x 63.4 x 22.4 mm, slightly larger than the Tough-8000, although it is lighter at approximately 165g including battery. It is available in three different colours; red, dark grey or turquoise blue.
Under its shell the mju Tough-6010 is a basic compact camera, although it does have a few unusual features. The controls are quite fiddly even when you’re not wearing gloves, but the camera overcomes this by incorporating Tap Control, in which tapping the sides, top or back of the camera activates some menu options. It works well as far as it goes, but any further adjustment requires use of the menu system.
The Tough-6010 has four main shooting options: program auto, iAuto, a ‘Beauty’ mode that softens skin tones, and a scene mode with 18 scene programs, including several programs designed specifically for shooting underwater or on snow. The video mode has a resolution of 640 x 480 at 30fps with mono audio and clip length limited only by card capacity.
Other controls include a useful live menu for shooting options and a second mini-menu with a panorama mode, a shadow booster to improve high-contrast shots, and a rather disappointing ‘Magic Filter’ selection. However the camera lacks manual white balance, any sort of colour adjustment, and worst of all it also lacks an AF assist lamp. The LED on the front is only for close-range illumination of macro subjects.
The 6010 performs well, with a shot-to-shot time of 2.1 seconds in single-shot mode. In Sequential mode it can shoot at one frame a second, although using the slower Type M cards it slows after six frames. There is a high speed continuous mode that can shoot at a consistent 5fps, but only at 3MP.
The built-in flash is weak at lower ISO settings, failing to light a 3m room. In iAuto mode the flash is accompanied by ISO 800 sensitivity, which gives it some range but rather poor image quality. The Tough-6010 has very poor low light ability, failing to focus even is a room lit bright enough for reading. In lower light levels it fails to focus at all, although it seems to default to a pan-focus setting, so subjects in flash range will still be reasonably sharp.
The Tough-6010’s few faults are offset by the image quality, which is actually pretty good. The lens could be sharper, but it produces very little wideangle distortion and virtually no chromatic aberration. The overall level of detail is very good, and the low compression of the Fine quality setting avoids artefacts. Colour reproduction is good, with detail even in very bright areas. The 6010 has good noise control up to ISO 400. There is a little visible noise at all settings, and ISO 800 and ISO 1600 are very noisy, but the overall results are good.
The mju Tough-6010 is good looking, easy to use, robust enough to take a few knocks, and has decent performance and picture quality. Its only real weaknesses are poor low light focusing and an underpowered flash.