The Stylus Tough-3000 is the first of several Olympus “Tough” series cameras to be launched in 2010. Featuring a shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof, shakeproof body, the Olympus 3000 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 1/2.3″-type twelve 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-3000’s only option for framing and reviewing images, as there’s no optical viewfinder on this model. The Olympus Stylus Tough-3000 also 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 64 to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent.
The Olympus 3000 is the first in the Tough series to offer HD movie capture (720p), as well as an HDMI output to view images and movies on your HDTV. The HDMI Control features allows you to use your HDTV’s remote to control the playback functions on the camera, via the HDMI interface. (HDMI cable not included.) A rechargeable LI-42B Lithium Ion battery with charger is included with the Stylus Tough-3000, and the battery has a CIPA rating of 160 shots per charge. Images are stored in a very generous 632MB of available internal memory, as well as on SD/SDHC memory cards. Images and videos can be transferred to a PC over a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection.
The Tough-3000 includes what the company calls Magic Filters, similar to the in-camera Art Filters first introduced in Olympus digital SLRs in 2009. These new Magic Filters include “Pop Art”, “Pin Hole”, “Fish-Eye” and “Drawing” filters, and their presence is enabled by the camera’s TruePic III image processor. The Stylus Tough-3000 also features a new graphical user interface (GUI), and comes bundled with new Olympus [ib] software which includes Geotagging and Face Recognition functionality.
The Olympus Stylus 3000 retains the unique “Tap Control” feature found on previous Tough models. 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. 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-3000 employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera’s image sensor, and the Tough-3000 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. New AF tracking technology continually adjusts focus and exposure to keep fast-moving subjects in focus. There’s even “Pet Mode” AF tracking for animal lovers.
A “Perfect Shot Preview” mode 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 15 scene modes including an underwater mode are offered in the Olympus 3000, 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. There’s also an Intelligent Auto mode which can automatically select from a subset of scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Night + Portrait, Macro or Sports). In-camera image editing is possible, with the Olympus Tough-3000 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-3000 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.
The Olympus Stylus Tough-3000 will be available in Oxide Red, Turquoise Blue, Hot Pink and Emerald Green, and ships in the USA from February 2010 with pricing of about US$230.