Olympus Stylus Tough 3000: Image and Video Quality

by Jim Keenan Reads (347)
Editor's Rating
6.00

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 6
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 5
    • Performance
    • 5
    • Total Score:
    • 6.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Image Quality
Default image and color quality out of the Tough 3000 were accurate and image sharpness seemed to be acceptable. Good thing as there’s no sharpness adjustment in the camera and Olympus doesn’t use the typical color palette option found in most other compacts. You shoot at the default setting, and then can alter images through post processing in camera, while saving the original. Here’s the default shot along with the B&W, sepia, high and low saturation options.

Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Default
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Low Saturation
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
High Saturation
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Black and White
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Sepia

It would have been nice had Olympus allowed the various color modes to be selected for capture, rather than require they be created after the fact.

The camera also has its “magic” shooting mode that allows you to capture images with effects applied such as pinhole, pop art, fisheye and drawing: here’s the default shot, and then the same shot in the various modes.

Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Default
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Pop Art
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Pinhole

Fisheye
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Drawing

These effects are selected via menu and captured as the image, rather than being post-processed.

The Tough 3000 version of enhancing the apparent dynamic range of the camera goes by the moniker of “shadow adjustment” and is disabled as a default – “auto” and “on” settings are available. Auto applies the shadow adjustment effect “when shooting against backlight” while on is for “shooting with automatic adjustment to brighten an area that has become darker.” In practice they provide a fairly benign impact, at least on this backlit flower basket.

Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
None
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Auto
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
On

Auto white balance worked well for a variety of lighting conditions and shot better (cooler) than most in the studio under incandescent lighting. The camera also offers daylight, overcast, tungsten and 3 fluorescent presets.

Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Auto White Balance, 3200k incandescent light

I used Olympus digital ESP metering for most of the exposures and found it worked well with average scenes but had a tendency to lose highlights a bit more than most compacts I’ve dealt with when shooting in higher contrast light situations. Spot metering is also available as well as a face recognition ESP that causes faces to be lightened when backlight is detected.

The Tough 3000 breaks no new ground in the ISO noise arena, offering average high ISO noise performance at best. ISO 64 and 100 are close but I can still see a slight edge to 64 even though I shot many of the images for this review at 100 to hopefully keep shutter speeds up a bit. ISO 200 is fairly clean but definitely worse than 100, and 400 can be clearly differentiated from 200.

Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 64
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 64, 100% crop
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 100
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 200
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 400
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 800
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 1600
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop

ISO 800 is a last resort and 1600 might not even be that, except for small images when no other option exists.

With ISO performance stacking up as average, the concern with all the automatic modes is if the Tough 3000 starts to ramp up ISO due to a particular mode or as the digital half of the dual stabilization system.

Fortunately, the Tough seems to not be overly prone to go to higher ISOs, at least for exposure purposes. That’s good news as there isn’t a lot of room for image quality on anything other than small images once ISO sensitivities start moving north of 400. Shooting in programmed auto allows the user control of ISO sensitivity and that alone argues forcefully for programmed auto as the mode of choice for the Tough 3000.

Video Quality
Video quality was not too bad, dependent of course on lighting and other variables. I shot all the videos hand held with movie stabilization enabled. With the one-button approach the camera is handling all settings except movie size, quality, stabilization and sound. If you have sound recording enabled, the optical zoom is unavailable, but digital zoom is. With sound disabled optical zoom is also in play. The microphone is susceptible to wind noise but there is no “wind cut” feature. Olympus has not included information on their website, the quick start guide, downloadable user’s manual, Tough 3000 press release or in-camera user’s guide as to movie clip size or time limits.

*Update: The Stylus Tough 3000 will record 720p HD video with sound at fine compression for a maximum clip length of 1 hour, 57 minutes and 29 seconds with 8GB available flash memory. Clip length at QVGA resolution with 8GB available is limited to 6 hours, 08 minutes and 47 seconds.

Additional Sample Images

Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image
Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image Olympus Tough 3000 Test Image


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