'Do not handle with care,' states the Olympus Web site. Brilliant. Available for around £260, the mju Tough-8000 is shockproof to 2m, waterproof to 10m, freezeproof to -10°C and crushproof to 100kg. But you still get a 12-megapixel sensor, 3.6x wideangle zoom and image stabilisation. Hell, it even looks good.
They say that, if you're going to do something, you should do it properly. The cheaper is an attractive and tough camera, but the 8000 is the real McCoy. It can be dropped further, dive deeper and survive more punishing treatment. It's also got slightly more resolution, for what that's worth.
Despite all its tough-guy credentials, the 8000's also perfectly practical as a day-to-day camera. Like the 6000, the 8000 has a compact, non-extending wideangle zoom -- you could never waterproof the usual sort. While it might be stretching it to call the 8000 a super-slim, it is very compact. There's nothing you can get in an ordinary 12-megapixel compact that you don't get here.
The picture quality's good. The fine detail's not quite as sharp as that of the 8000's best rivals, and the lens goes slightly hazy around the edges, but you've got to be viewing images at 100 per cent magnification on-screen, or turning out A4 prints or larger, to spot it. The colours, white balance and exposure are spot-on, and it's not bad at high ISOs, either. There's plenty of noise, but that's better than the hopeless smudging applied by most other camera makers.
For a ruggedised camera, the 8000 is surprisingly easy to use. You can spin the mode dial and work all the buttons with your thumb -- there's no need to change or loosen your grip -- and all the main image settings, like white balance, ISO and more, are accessed via a quick and easy to use Func button. The main menu system is more convoluted, but, most of the time, you won't need it.