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Olympus mju-Tough 6020 - Performance and Results
Blistering performance has never really been a feature of Olympus compacts, and the 6020 is certainly no streak of lightning. It starts up and is ready to take a picture in just under five seconds, which is slow, and in single shot mode its shot-to-shot time is a positively glacial 4.5 seconds. It has a continuous shooting mode, but this isn't much faster, with a shot-to-shot time of 3.5 seconds. There is also a high-speed continuous mode which can manage approximately two shots a second, but only at 3MP resolution.
The main reason for the poor performance is the autofocus system, which is takes just over a second to lock on in good light. It's not too bad in low light, although it is much slower, but in very dim light the 6020 has a problem, and it's a weird one. The camera features a very bright white LED on the front, but for some unfathomable reason this cannot operate as an AF assist lamp, only as a light to illuminate subjects in macro mode. This means that the camera has real problems focusing in very low light.
Although the overall performance is a bit of a let-down the image quality makes up for it, because this is another area in which Olympus seems to have made some changes for the better. The lens is certainly a lot better than some previous Olympus compacts (I'm looking at you, FE-4000), with good edge-to-edge sharpness and no chromatic aberration, although it does produce some barrel distortion at wide angle. The level of recorded detail is as good as any other mid-range 14MP compact, and the relatively low compression of the Fine quality mode preserves it without too many artefacts. I found that the exposure metering tended to over-expose slightly, burning out some highlights in high-contrast lighting, but colour rendition is bright and punchy, and dynamic range is much better than I'd expect from a 14MP camera, especially with the shadow adjustment switched on.
Image noise is also handled much better than some previous Olympus cameras, with very good image quality up to 400 ISO and even the maximum 1600 ISO producing usable results. All in all a solid result for a camera that can take decent pictures almost anywhere.
If you're looking for a camera for skiing, watersports or other outdoor activities the mju-Tough 6020 is a good choice. Its performance is a bit slow and low-light focusing could be better, but it is well made, easy to use even in difficult conditions, and produces consistently good results, all for a very reasonable price.