We perceive the overwhelming majority of cameras as sensitive devices that need to be handled with due care because unfavorable conditions such as humidity or dust are usually not tolerated by the electronics and the fine mechanics of cameras. But there are exceptions – the so-called outdoor devices – designed to withstand relatively rough conditions.
There are not many tough digital cameras on the market, but Olympus has quite a tradition in this segment. The newest model, the “mju” – μ TOUGH-6010 – is characterized by the following basic parameters: waterproof up to 3m depth, shockproof to a fall from a height of 1.5m, and freeze-proof with the ability to operate in temperatures of down to -10°C.
Aside from resilience, the main features of its photographic equipment should be noted. Olympus μ TOUGH-6010 is a 12 Mpx camera equipped with a 3.6 wide-angle optics 28–102 mm F3.5–5.1. Images and video sequences are stored on a xD-Picture Card memory cards (or MicroSD cards using the standard supplied adapter).
The device is conceived as a pocket camera. With a width of less than one hundred millimeters, it will certainly not be in your way; just as with a weight of 170 g it will definitely not make a hole in your pocket.
Even though this is a tough camera, don’t expect a design resembling medieval armor – at first glance it seems like an ordinary digital compact. Nearly none of the control elements differ particularly from other compact cameras; the one exception is the so-called hidden function Tap Control, which enables the user to operate basic functions (flash, macro, browsing) by tapping on the edges of the camera. What is it good for? One example would be when scuba diving in neoprene gloves, which would make it impossible to press the fine buttons on the body of the mju.
The lens of the camera is encased – when turned on, it does not slide out – thus the depth of the device stays the same. Looking at the main circular select switch on the back suggests that it is a full-automatic camera fitted with the common motif programs, in this case completed with several regimes of underwater photography – see menu examples below.
This camera can be purchased in one of three combinations of black sides and a color front panel.
A special feature of this Olympus is the regime Beauty, intended mainly for portraits. Beauty smoothes skin, adds a spark in the eyes, and widens them for a more dramatic look. These effects can also be activated afterward when browsing photographs in the camera..
An experienced user will detect resistance to water and dust with a glance at the casings of the camera. The bottom – proper metal, worth noting – cover of the battery space and memory card, as well as the smaller side cover of the communication port are fitted with sealing, which prevents the access of undesirable matters.
As a camera for adventurous journeys, Olympus μ TOUGH-6010 is equipped with a small LED lamp, which can be found next to the flash lamp. You can turn on the LED light anytime using the DISP button on the back side, and it is activated automatically in the Super Macro LED regime. Thanks to the fact that the angle of light is directed to the left to the lens this “battery” may also serve as additional lighting for macro photography.
Camera Menu – Olympus μ TOUGH-6010
Photographs taken with Olympus μ TOUGH-6010 excel with a correct color scheme with a slight shift towards pleasant hues, the sensor system has a solid dynamic range; the photographs are rarely burned. The twelve megapixel resolution verges towards co-operation with the optics – to keep maximum quality it is better to reduce the resolution in the menu to 5 Mpx. This also effectively suppresses noise with higher sensitivity.
The durable construction naturally makes Olympus μ TOUGH-6010 a camera for truly everyday use in nearly any conditions.
Common price (at the time of this review’s publication): £299.99, $488, 300
Basic technical data for Olympus μ TOUGH-6010
12 Mpx (3 968 × 2 976 px)
Sensitivity ISO 64 to 1 600
28–102 mm F3,5–5,1
xD-Picture Card, MicroSD
640 × 480 px, 30 fps (max. 10 s of recording)
640 × 480 px, 15 fps (up to full capacity of card)
320 × 240 px, 30 fps (up to full capacity of card)
Screen size 2,7“ (69 mm)
230 000 px
Dimensions and weight
95 × 63 × 24 mm (w × h × d)
170 g (incl. battery and memory card)