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There are a wide variety of cameras – from superzooms to point and shoot to cameras that even survive harsh torrential weather. Oh well, that might be a bit of exaggeration but there are a handful that can be carried along when scuba diving or in the rain. The Olympus Tough-3000 is a camera based on these specifications that make it almost an all-rounder in all aspects.
Going by the camera’s specifications it comes in a rugged plastic encasing that’s quite tough as its name suggests it to be. The Olympus Tough-3000 doesn’t fall in as being compact nor does it fall into the category of being called bulky. At 95.9 x 65 x 23.4 mm the camera is averagely sized and weighs in at just 160 g, making it easy to carry around. In addition the Tough-3000 also feels nice and grippy when held. What you also get is a fully matte body which eliminates the body from getting smudged with fingerprints. The camera comes fit with a 28 mm wide angle lens but with a limited 3.6x of optical zoom.
The rear sports a 2.7-inch screen that performs decently well under direct sunlight along with the navigational buttons placed towards the right of the screen. They basically comprise of a four-way controller, menu and review button, zoom in/zoom out along with a dedicated record button. Moreover first time users shouldn’t find using the camera difficult as it comes with a detailed in-camera manual that explains almost all functions that the Tough-3000 sports. This function also allows the user to try out the explained mode directly from the help menu. What is really appreciated about the Tough-3000 is the level of explanation that the camera holds. Everything from the modes to shooting posture to picture composition is so well explained that it omits the need to throw in a manual with this. Another major plus point is the built-in 1 GB memory that this point and shoot comes with – other cameras are still stuck in the stone age where 50 MB is the max storage space that one can get.
Now as mentioned the Olympus Tough-3000 is specifically designed to weather harsh conditions. In other words the camera can survive freezing temperatures of -10 degrees centigrade and is waterproof to a depth of 3 meters. Moreover it can also withstand a fall from as high as 1.5 meters – which we actually tested and it did work after the drop test. With all these adding up as decent features going towards the camera what I generally didn’t come to like was the tactility of the device. The rubber panel (buttons) are not very responsive forcing you to press real hard to make things work. In fact I personally found pressing down with the thumbnail to be much easier and responsive. So operating the device with a pair of gloves on is surely out of the question.
Overall camera interface is good but feels a little too sluggish for comfort. In other words the Olympus lacks the fluidity when changing modes or settings. Nevertheless it does have a handful of predefined modes such as Pop art, Fish eye, Drawing and Pin hole that many would find of interest. In addition to this there are a total of 15 scene modes to choose from.
Other than the VGA and QVGA modes for shooting video the Tough-3000 can also record in HD (720p). However the video lacks the overall picture quality and sharpness that one would expect in an HD video. The end result is comparable to an ordinary VGA output at a higher resolution. Also the lack of color in the video gave it a dull and unimpressive output.
Overall color and saturation is handled well along with a decent level of sharpness. However the camera tends to lose out on sharpness towards the top edges of the image. This is only viewable if you are scrutinizing the image or if the image is zoomed into else it is hardly noticeable.
The overall sharpness of the image might not be the best when the need is to focus on a much wider area but in general produces acceptable results. Resize the image and you end up with a decently sharp image.
Built-in presets such as the cameras Night mode was a bit of a letdown as the image captured came in as a little too overexposed. However changing the mode to Program and setting the ISO to 1600 produced better results though it’s not something that can be made use of. The cameras acceptable ISO level falls at 200 – anything beyond this produces considerable noise in the image.
The Olympus does well in taking macro shots and its Super Macro range falls in at a sweet 1.3 cm while the normal Macro comes in at farfetched 5 cm.
The Olympus Tough-3000 might not be the best among the point and shoot cameras but performs decently well in comparison to other mid-range cameras. That apart it does have a much superior build that can take quite a beating as well as survive sub zero temperatures. Now considering that this is Olympus’s lower end model the Tough-3000 in fact does a pretty neat job at image capture but loses out on the overall video quality. At Rs. 12,999 the Olympus Tough-3000 is an affordable all weather camera that you can get your hands on.