When the Olympus Stylus Tough 3000 reached the market in February 2010 it landed squarely in the already crowded under 5x optical zoom class of compact digitals. It became the first camera in the Tough series to offer HD (720p) video, accessible via a dedicated one-touch record button. There's a 2.7 inch LCD monitor, image stabilization, and 1GB of internal memory (with 632MB available for shooting functions).
The camera also accepts SD/SDHC memory media and features a dual image stabilization system that incorporates both mechanical and digital processes. Add a 12 megapixel sensor, face detection technology, a 3.6x zoom lens that covers the 28 to 102mm focal range (35mm equivalent), and aside from that generous internal memory the Tough 3000 looks fairly middle-of-the-road at this point. Here's a look at that focal range.
But wait, there's more! Waterproof functionality to 10 feet (for one hour), cold resistance to 14 degrees Fahrenheit and the ability to survive a 5 foot fall are what separate this camera from the pack and earn it that "Tough" designation. While that 102mm telephoto doesn't get very close to surfers from shore, it's a whole new ballgame when your camera allows you into the water. The videos that follow were taken on a gray and overcast day and should not be taken as representative of video quality from the Tough 3000 under all conditions - I offer them to illustrate the opportunities that may present themselves when you're able to get close with your subjects, even while getting knocked about in the waves.
Olympus includes USB and A/V cables, an AC adapter and Li-ion battery, wrist strap and quick-start manual with each camera. Still wondering about that 368MB of internal memory not available for shooting? It stores an in-camera user's manual and other software (in lieu of a CD-ROM and paper manual). The Tough 3000 comes in blue, green, pink and red versions.
The toughest camera in the world won't attract much of a following if it doesn't produce in the image department, so let's see if the Tough 3000 is still standing once all the shooting is done.
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