Olympus mju-Tough 6020 - Design and Features Review

The fairest thing I can say about the style of the Olympus mju-Tough range is that you either love it or hate it. The 6020 isn’t a particularly elegant camera, with a rather industrial look featuring exposed bolt heads on the front and a large drilled speaker grille on the back. It’s a large and quite heavy camera, measuring 96.7 x 64.4 x 25.8mm and weighing 178g including battery and memory card. The body design is practical though, and the raised detail on the front provides a comfortable and secure grip, and that speaker grille gives somewhere to put your thumb. The controls are solidly mounted and widely spaced, and it is possible to operate them while wearing gloves. As well as this the 6020 features Olympus’ innovative Tap Control system, which uses an internal accelerometer to control some camera functions and which can now be used for menu navigation.

I’ve criticised Olympus’ menu system for many years, and I’m happy to report that it’s finally paid off. The 6020 has an entirely new menu system and I have to say it’s a huge improvement. Main shooting settings are adjusted by a permanent side-bar menu activated and navigated by the D-pad, similar to that found on Casio cameras. It is quick and easy to operate, and carries most frequently used settings, such as shooting mode, flash mode, macro shooting mode, self timer, EV compensation, white balance, ISO setting and drive mode. As well as this there is an extensive but more conventional menu for other camera settings such as image size and quality, focus and metering modes, shadow adjustment and more. Again it is a massive improvement over the old menu system, so major Brownie points to Olympus for finally changing it.

Olympus has now completely abandoned its unpopular xD-Picture memory card format, and the 6020 uses SD/SDHC cards for storage, although it also has a big 2GB of internal storage, with the option to set up custom albums for sharing your pictures. The large, bright LCD monitor is well suited for this, with a very wide viewing angle in all directions.

The 6020 is basically a point-and-shoot camera so it doesn’t have a lot of creative options, but it does still have quite a wide range of features. Shooting modes include the standard program auto, an easy iAuto mode with fewer menu options, a scene mode with 19 scene programs including several for underwater shooting, a Beauty mode for improved portraits, a rather cheesy Magic Filter mode with a small selection of fairly horrible effects, and a panorama mode, which includes a sweep panorama mode, which it seems that Sony really should have patented.

Like most modern compacts the 6020 can record HD video in 1280 x 720 resolution at 30fps. Audio is recorded in mono, and full optical zoom can be used while recording, slowing down to avoid dizzying rapid zooms. The zoom motor is silent and cannot be heard on the soundtrack. Unfortunately neither can much of anything else, because the sound quality is very poor. Video quality is rather better though, and is recorded in MPEG4 format.