Announced in January 2010 for a February entry into the market, The Olympus Stylus Tough 3000 compact digital becomes the first model in the series to feature a High-Definition (720p) video capability. The camera also packs the lowest MSRP in the Tough family, is waterproof to 10 feet, functional in temperatures down to 14 degrees F and can survive a 5 foot fall.
Our review model came in a snappy blue two-tone color scheme (there are green, pink and red versions available as well), but just as I was about to start grousing over the lack of a detailed user's manual in the box, it turned out that no matter the color of the body, all Tough 3000s are green. Olympus has built in 1 gigabyte of internal memory (632 megabytes of which are available for shooting) and included the manual in-camera in lieu of a paper manual or CD-ROM.
The camera covers the 28 to 102mm focal length range (35mm equivalent) and offers one-button video recording. The metal body seems well-built, a good thing for a camera with submersible and cold weather capabilities.
One question that's already come up is whether the battery will hold on long enough to let you glean anything from the manual. I fully charged our review sample's Li-ion battery before shooting, but after 50 shots (many of them flash) a flashing red battery icon in the upper left of the monitor got my attention.
Olympus recommends recharging the battery when the message reads "battery empty" and this one indicated I had one segment (of three) left, but given that Olympus rates the Tough 3000 for 160 shots per charge power consumption looks to be high on our list of things to monitor closely with this camera.
Image quality and color reproduction look good, and default images seem to be satisfactory right out of the camera.
Autofocus acquisition time seems OK in good conditions, but has shown some tendencies to be a bit slow as light gets dimmer. Shutter lag seems to be not overly quick, but not molasses slow either.
At the nominal ISO sensitivity of 64, flash range suggests the built-in flash is not particularly powerful.
The camera didn't leak on its voyage to the bottom of the pool (about 7 feet) and grabbed a shot of my trusty Nikonos sitting in a couple feet of water.
That won't be the only water the Tough 3000 will encounter before the final verdict is rendered. The camera is easily shirt-pocket portable and seems to produce a nice quality image.
We'll firm up our first impressions one way or the other and have a complete review of this Olympus compact in the not too distant future.