Ultra-hard Olympus mju TOUGH 6000 is a near-indestructible compact camera, but does image quality hinder? What Digital Camera's Olympus Mju Tough 6000 review.
Olympus mju TOUGH 6000 Review
Performance, Image Quality & Value For Money
Olympus Mju Tough 6000 review – Performance
It’s unusual to be testing a camera and kicking it around the room just to see if it can be broken and, to be fair, the Olympus mju TOUGH 6000 can’t be. Of course there’s only a reasonable amount of abuse that it can take and, for want of not pushing it to the limits, it survived an hour in the deep freeze, a sinking to the bottom of the bath and a beating around the room. Not your run of the mill compact by any means.
In use the camera works fairly well, though the positioning of all the controls on the back can become a little fiddly – a more even spread would be the best use of space. The thumbwheel on the back is also rather annoying and, for some reason, a secondary playback button is placed here, which seems a little unnecessary. The layout is below par overall, but when set to Auto or iAuto it’s more than easy to snap away again and again with no trouble.
The macro and super macro modes on the left of the d-pad provide some extremely close-up abilities, though when left accidentally in this mode the camera will not change out of it – leaving longer distance focal lengths out of focus. Even in intelligent auto mode, the camera’s application of macro mode seems a little intermittent.
Exposure-wise the mju 6000 does struggle to produce well-exposed images. It errs to the side of underexposure, leaving muddied-looking images that lack punch. When facing even subtle light sources the TOUGH 6000 also suffers from light bleeding across the image, and this shows particularly on screen beyond the final image. It’s distracting to attempt to set up an exposure and seems that, due to the lens’ limited quality, that something had to give for all the beefed up protection.
The flash is well placed, but even apparently intelligent Auto mode wont stop it bleeding out your subjects when too close to camera. Use cautiously as to not overexpose, though in lower light this is fine for standard exposure or some slight fill in at the correct distance.
Furthermore, Olympus continues to use its xD card format – one that no other manufacturer does. Much like Sony’s until-recently single-minded use of the Sony-based Memory Stick type format opening up to allow for SD card format functionality in many products, Olympus now includes an adaptor for micro-SD only. Still no sign of usual SD or SDHC cards making their way into an Olympus near you soon, which is something of a shame – it’s the standard card format that so many people own and, given the extra cost, if there’s a spare one lying around the house then it bodes well to buy a non-Olympus camera to save yourself picking up additional memory costs too.
Olympus Mju Tough 6000 review – Image Quality
The Olympus mju TOUGH 6000 – despite its rugged body – produces fairly ‘rough and ready’ images. The quality is below par, but this is likely inherent to the camera’s construction. Given its tough exterior, the image quality suffers from poor lens quality – it lacks sharpness and the camera itself has issues providing decent, striking exposures. Colours are muted, even under controlled lighting or sunlight. Bright light bleeds across the exposure, a result of poor optics.
Image noise is smooth at lower ISO settings – around the 50-200 mark – but descend into noisy territory soon after. Whilst ISO 400 is fine to use, it does show strong remnants of noise working into the image. ISO 800 and 1600 lose considerable detail and colour clarity, as well as having significant noise. ISO 1600 is fairly mosaic-like, and worse than a number of other compact cameras on the market.
Olympus Mju Tough 6000 review – Value for Money
At £220, or thereabouts, the mju TOUGH 6000 offers relatively good value for money. Indeed, other compacts minus the ‘toughed-out’ ruggedness will fall in at a similar price point, but then you can’t drop them in a pond and live to tell the tale. If you’re in the market for a tough compact then Olympus undoubtedly puts the right range out there, but at the sacrifice of the improved image quality that you will see from other manufacturers in many cases. Shop online and there’re plenty of shops selling a penny under the £200 mark, which fits the camera into a good, safe price-point for most peoples’ compact budgets.
Olympus mju TOUGH 6000 review pages:
– Page 1: Olympus mju TOUGH 6000 review – Features & Design
– Page 2: Olympus mju TOUGH-6000 – Performance, Image Quality & Value for Money
– Page 3: Olympus µ [Mju] TOUGH-6000 review specifications / specs
– Page 4: Olympus mju Tough 6000 review verdict
Olympus mju TOUGH 6000 review – other What Digital Camera links:
– Compare the Olympus mju TOUGH 6000 with other superzoom compact cameras
– Olympus µ [Mju] TOUGH-6000 review – product images
– Olympus mju TOUGH 6000 review – sample test image gallery