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Olympus mju Tough 6010 - Olympus mju Tough 6010

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

The 6010's overall performance is about average for a mid-range compact. It starts up in a little over three seconds, and shuts down again in under two seconds. In single-shot mode it has a consistent shot-to-shot time of 2.1 seconds when using both Type M and Type H xD Picture cards. In continuous shooting Sequential mode it can shoot at approximately one frame a second, although using the slower Type M cards it pauses after six frames to wait for the card to catch up. There is a faster high speed continuous mode that can shoot at a consistent 5fps, but it is limited to 3MP.

Battery performance seems to be considerably better than the mju 7010. The 6010 has a larger 925mAh battery which was still going strong after more than 200 shots. The built-in flash on the other hand is something of a disappointment. It is surprisingly weak at lower ISO settings, failing to light a 3m room. In iAuto mode the flash mode is accompanied by 800 ISO, which gives it some range but sacrifices image quality.

That's somewhat academic though, since like the mju-7010 the Tough-6010 has very poor low light ability. As I mentioned it has no AF assist lamp, and the autofocus system has real problems even is a room lit bright enough for reading, taking several seconds to focus, and frequently failing to do so. In lower light levels it failed to focus at all, although it seems to default to a pan-focus setting, so subjects in flash range will still be reasonably sharp.

The Tough-6010's few failings can be somewhat forgiven, because its overall image quality is actually pretty good. The lens, shooting through its glass cover, isn't the sharpest or most contrasty thing ever, but it is at least consistent from corner to corner, produces very little wide angle distortion and virtually no chromatic aberration. The overall level of detail is very good, comparable with any good 12MP compact, and the nice low compression rate of the Fine quality setting preserves it with no visible artefacts. Colour reproduction is good, with detail even in very bright areas, although there was a little bleed-over around some very bright reds.

Olympus must have made some progress in the noise reduction department lately, because like the mju-7010 the 6010 has very good noise control right up to 400 ISO, which would be a distinct advantage when shooting fast-moving sports. There is a little visible noise at lower settings, and 800 ISO and 1600 ISO are very noisy, but the overall results are very good.

Verdict

If you're looking for a camera you can just throw in a bag whenever you're heading outdoors, but which also won't look out of place at a party, the mju Tough-6010 is ideal. It's easy to use, robust enough to take the knocks, has reasonable performance and decent picture quality. Its only real weaknesses are poor low light focusing and an underpowered flash.

GordonDownie

September 25, 2009, 3:31 pm

I know this is repeating an old chestnut, but why on earth do manufacturers keep putting such pixel dense sensors in these cameras. 12MP is completely unnecessary. I suspect picture quality would be vastly better with 6MP chip instead, in terms of noise and dynamic range. Most pictures are viewed on monitors with less than 2MP after all. It would also process images more quickly, too. I see Canon are starting to buck the trend with the new S90 and G11 by not going all out for big pixel numbers, but instead worrying about what produces the best pictures (hopefully). Do you think this might be the start of a welcome trend?

joose

September 25, 2009, 4:03 pm

@GordonDownie - Hopefully this trend (if it is one) continues. I've just had a photo from my mobile phone blown up to A0 size and the resolution was fine, others have also commented that they didn't think the photo come of come from a phone. While IQ is of course subjective, I think camera manufacturers have done too good a job convincing Joe Public that more is better. I agree that a megapixel rating between 6 and 10 (max) is all that is needed.

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