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Olympus mju Tough-6010 review: Olympus mju Tough-6010

Ernest Shackleton would probably have been mightily taken with the shockproof, waterproof and freezeproof mju Tough-6010. Its picture quality isn't going to blow anybody's mind, but it looks smart, offers good value for money, and can withstand a fair degree of punishment

Rod Lawton

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2 min read

The Olympus mju Tough-6010 looks like a pretty minor upgrade of the older mju Tough-6000. At around £210, it's also one of the least expensive waterproof cameras around. But is it worth it?

orig-mju6010_front.jpg
6.5

Olympus mju Tough-6010

The Good

Smart and chunky styling; 3.8x wideangle zoom range.

The Bad

Lens becomes hazy towards the edges; heavy noise reduction and smoothing; over-complicated EV compensation.

The Bottom Line

Most underwater compacts have to use internal 'folded' lenses, so it's unwise to expect stellar image quality. Even so, the Olympus mju Tough-6010's pictures are rather disappointing. It's still a stylish and relatively cheap go-anywhere camera, though

Well 'ard
The main difference between the Tough-6000 and Tough-6010 seems to be the switch from a 10-megapixel sensor to a 12-megapixel one, plus the addition of a small selection of 'magic filters', to create 'pop art', 'pin hole', 'sketch' and (appropriately enough) 'fish eye' effects. Otherwise, you get the same combination of smart and chunky styling, a choice of bright colours and a handy 3.6x wideangle optical zoom.

This test shot shows good, strong colours and not much distortion. The lens gets hazy towards the edges, though, and there's a big drop in quality past ISO 400 (click image to enlarge)

Waterproofing is measured as a depth rating. Pressure increases with depth, so the deeper the camera can go, the better. The Tough-6010 goes down to 3m, which should be alright for casual snorkelling, but not wreck diving. For anything deeper, you'll need to look at the mju Tough-8000, which can go down to 10m, or a dedicated underwater camera or housing system. The Tough-6010 will prove rather slippery underwater, so you'd be well-advised to use the wrist strap or a neck cord.

The Tough-6010's resistance to water isn't its only strength. It's shockproof from a height of 1.5m and freezeproof to -10C°. Clearly, you're not going to drop the camera on purpose, but it's reassuring to know that you don't have to wrap it in cotton wool.

The Tough-6010's controls are solid and easy to use

The Tough-6010 is handy above water too. It's not much chunkier than the average super-slim camera, and it's no harder to use, so it's an ideal holiday snapper. The buttons have a slightly heavy feel to them, but they still work well, and it's easy to make routine adjustments to the white balance, flash, ISO and so on using the directional controllers and on-screen 'Func' menu.

Ineffective megapixel boost
But the move from 10 megapixels to 12 hasn't particularly done the Tough-6010 any favours. Image detail is alright as long as you keep the ISO low and don't expect too much near the edges of the frame, where the detail can get quite hazy.

The detail in the test chart looks good, but there's plenty of sharpening going on. What the chart doesn't show is how lower-contrast detail tends to get smoothed over (click image to enlarge)

There are some irritations in the controls and options, too. For some reason, Olympus has decided we need thumbnail representations of different exposure-compensation amounts, instead of a simple sliding scale. The thumbnails don't tell you anything visually, and you still have to look for a label in the bottom corner to find the adjustment you want. Also, if you want to apply negative compensation, you have to click left onto another screen.

Like every other camera maker, Olympus offers an automatic scene-detection mode, but it can only pick from the five most commonly used, not the whole list.

Conclusion
The Olympus mju Tough-6010 lives up to its name. It looks good, and it sits at the bottom end of the price range for this kind of camera. But its image quality is only so-so, and, if you buy it, you may always have the nagging feeling that you should have laid down a few extra tenners for the much tougher mju Tough-8000.

Edited by Charles Kloet

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