Olympus Stylus Tough-6000
The Olympus Stylus Tough-6000 is the latest in Olympus’ newly renamed “Tough” series of take-a-licking, keep-on-ticking digital cameras. Featuring a shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof, shakeproof body – we’re starting to wonder just how many more things Olympus can find to proof their cameras against – the Olympus 6000 is designed to take whatever the elements can throw at it – or perhaps, whatever you might accidentally throw it at! Able to survive a drop from 5 feet, to capture photos at up to 10 feet underwater, and even to be used in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit / -10 degrees Celsius, the photographer is likely to surrender long before the camera does. Inside this impressive exterior are the combination of a 1/2.33″-type ten megapixel image sensor and an Olympus-branded 3.6x optical zoom lens with a useful 28mm wide-angle. A 2.7-inch LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution offers the Olympus Tough-6000’s only option for framing and reviewing images, as there’s no optical viewfinder on this model. For the first time, the Olympus Stylus Tough-6000 includes true mechanical image stabilization – an important addition that forms half of the company’s “Dual Image Stabilization” system. The other half is what Olympus calls “Digital Image Stabilization”, which increases the ISO sensitivity (and along with it, both the shutter speed and image noise levels) to try and freeze motion. ISO sensitivity ranges from a low of ISO 50 to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent.
Perhaps the Olympus Stylus 6000’s most unusual feature is what Olympus has dubbed “Tap Control”. A 3D accelerometer in the camera’s body is used as an input method, allowing different patterns of taps on the camera’s body from different directions to control functions on the camera. For example, a double tap on the camera’s side can be used to turn on the camera’s flash or Shadow Adjustment function. It’s an unusual idea, and one that seems to make some sense if you consider that the camera can be used in conditions where taking your hands out of thick gloves might not be the best idea. The Olympus Stylus Tough-6000 employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera’s image sensor, and the Stylus 6000 also includes face detection capability, able to detect up to sixteen faces in a scene simultaneously. Olympus’ Face Detection function is linked to both the autoexposure and autofocus systems, ensuring that your subjects’ faces are taken into account when determining both these variables. It also allows for tracking of a subject’s face as it moves around the frame,once detected.
A “Perfect Shot Preview” mode accessible through the awkwardly-named “Olympus Recommended” button allows users to see what the effects of certain camera adjustments – for example, zoom, exposure compensation, white balance, or metering mode – will be before actually taking a photo. A generous 20 scene modes including several underwater modes are offered in the Olympus 6000, plus a Program Auto mode, allowing users some degree of control over their images without needing to understand the subtleties of shutter speeds and apertures. In-camera image editing is possible, with the Olympus Tough-6000 able to resize images, as well as correct for red-eye and exposure problems, adjust saturation, and even smooth a subject’s complexion or call attention to their eyes. An in-camera panorama mode is started with a press of the shutter button followed by panning the camera slowly across the scene. The Stylus Tough-6000 then cleverly captures two more photos by itself at the correct moment, and combines the three images together in-camera to offer a single stitched scene automatically. For creation of larger panoramas up to ten images, the included software can be used on a computer.
For viewing images on a television, the Olympus Stylus Tough-6000 has NTSC / PAL video output connectivity, while images can be transferred to a PC over a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection. A rechargeable LI-50B Lithium Ion battery with charger is included with the Stylus Tough-6000, which is CIPA rated for 230 shots. Olympus’ Master 2 software is also included for viewing and modifying photos. Images are stored in 42MB of internal memory, as well as on xD-Picture Card memory cards. Interestingly, Olympus has also chosen to include an MASD-1 microSD to xD-Picture Card adapter in the Stylus Tough-6000 bundle, allowing the use of microSD cards in the camera as well.
The Olympus Stylus Tough-6000 began shipping in the USA from January 2009 with pricing of about US$300.