Olympus Mju Tough 8000

While the Tough 8000 may be the most rugged camera on the market, it doesn't mean it's the best in terms of image quality and performance.


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Design
Unlike the casing of one of its predecessors from last year, the Tough Smart 1050SW, the Tough 8000 definitely looks like the sort of camera you could put through a car wash, slam up against a wall and drop from a considerable height without damaging as much as a fingernail. It takes its stylistic cues from the Tough Smart 1030SW, sharing a similar sort of aesthetic and build quality. The lens at the front of the camera is protected by a sliding metal cover which makes a satisfying sword-like swoosh sound as it retracts into the body, but this is as exciting as it gets — at least on the outside.

There's a myriad of chrome and silver around the entire body and the 2.7-inch LCD screen at the back is flanked by brushed steel — ideal for showing up all the scratches and bumps from your subterranean adventures. In Australia, the 8000 will come in silver and black.

Features
In terms of rugged cameras, this is about as tough as you can get. It's built to withstand the extreme: water, sand, dust, snow, larger people sitting on it ... the usual in everyday activities. Let's list off the limitations to start with. Waterproof to 10 metres, shockproof from 2 metres, freeze proof to -10 degrees Celsius and crushproof up to 100 kilograms.

Observe the scratches and bumps on the 8000 after we'd finished with it. Click image to enlarge.
(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Inside that curious lens casing is a 3.6x optical zoom, with a wide-angle 28mm lens. It's all starting to sound incredibly similar to the 1030SW, except the 8000 now has the added bonus of two more megapixels (12 rather than 10) and the added Olympus technology called Dual Shakeproof (image stabilisation). The LCD screen has also been upgraded to be supposedly brighter, designed for high glare situations such as being in the snow.

Speaking of snow conditions, the 8000 features tap control which is designed for skiers who still want to be able to take photos without removing their gloves. It's something that was present on the 1050SW and the version that appears in the 8000 is identical, according to the company.

The 8000 only comes with four shooting modes: a fully automatic mode dubbed iAuto, a program mode denoted by a camera icon where you can change ISO, white balance and so on, scene mode and this curious inclusion called beauty mode.

It's a feature designed to set it apart from the rest of its rugged camera brethren. Flick the switch from the 8000 onto the setting and the screen will suddenly transform into a blue revelation with a mirror befitting a Disney film; we think perhaps only Belle from Beauty and the Beast could get away with this thing. Once the initial screen is out of the way, some more visual trickery begins. Taking a photo in this mode will automatically adjust the image in order to remove blemishes, unsightly dark circles and generally smooth out the skin tone — like a portable Carson Kressley in your pocket. Note that taking a photo in this mode will automatically reduce the resolution to a 2-megapixel image.

Again to our disappointment the 8000 still uses the xD format, but there is a microSD adapter provided in the box. Also, unlike a couple of its other competitors such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1, there is no HD video available, only VGA at 30 frames per second.

Performance and image quality
From observing our shots, the Tough 8000 was perfectly capable of delivering some nice and accurate colours in most shooting situations. The flash though is another issue entirely. It was so bright it completely washed our subjects out. While this might be an advantage for underwater photography, above the water everything looks ghostly.

There's a really prominent issue with chromatic aberration, as fringing exhibits itself in both purple and cyan guises. It shows up a lot more towards the corners of the frame and generally produces a soft effect. Other pictures also exhibited this "dreamy" look, except most of the time it appeared as if the camera had not focused properly on the scene. Noise was also prevalent at most ISO levels, and while it's not uncommon for a compact to have these issues it was quite pronounced on the 8000. As you can see from the noise profile chart below, the amount of coloured noise was rather prominent from ISO 400 and above — by ISO 1600 it was more noise than actual image.

Click on image to enlarge. (Credit: CBS Interactive)

Of course, no test of a rugged camera would be complete without the requisite dropping, throwing and smashing session. The 8000 stood up to everything we threw at it, even if it came away with a couple of indentations on the lens cover and scratches galore across the back. Burst shooting mode was relatively impressive for a compact camera, with the 8000 managing around nine frames (at reduced resolution) in sequence before buffering to the card.

The beauty mode worked, but only in controlled situations. We found that it refused to beautify an image that deviated from (what we assumed) a standard photo — so for example, if there were multiple faces in the frame at one time the 8000 refused to apply the desired effect. It did remove blemishes and smooth out skin tone to an extent; however, we found that using the flash made every subject appear ghost-like so no amount of beauty mode could inject some colour back in.

Conclusion
While the Tough 8000 may be the most rugged camera on the market, it doesn't mean it's the best in terms of image quality. We were disappointed with the general lack of clarity that photos had, and the amount of noise and chromatic aberration present. For a package that almost hits the AU$600 mark, we would expect better shooting mode capabilities such as more manual overrides and perhaps even the inclusion of HD video. We eagerly await the arrival of the yet-to-be-reviewed Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 and the Canon PowerShot D10 to see how the Tough 8000 will compare.

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KathrynN posted a comment   

I took my Olympus in the pool ONCE and had nothing but trouble with it after that!! I had extended warranty and took it back five times! It was never the same, blurry pictures!

 

BrendonD posted a comment   

I have had mine for near 3 years, they are waterproof. you just have to be diligent and make sure there is no dust or little hairs or anything across the rubber seals.

 

kam006 posted a comment   
Canada

This camera is crap... DO NOT BUY... I bought one and went on a trip to use under water, I got one picture and it stopped working as it leaked right away. It was out of warranty so it cost me $175 to have repaired plus $45 shipping. In Feb 2012, I went on another trip and got 6 pictures off before it leaked and quit. Olympus wants me to again send freight pre-paid and they will tell me how much to fix. This is a garbage company with garbage product. I will never buy another Olympus product.

PenguinX
8
Rating
 

PenguinX posted a review   
Greece

The Good:The underwater photos

The Bad:night shots

Even though I love my camera...I can see now that after 2 years of full use, it has a water leakage...
my camera is not destroyed yet cuz the leakage is small..but I'm afraid it's going to get worse if I don't do something...help!!!

 

donna posted a comment   

I bought my camera in 2010 so as a later production run a few things may have been changed housing wise, apart from a swim in a river and putting the camera accidentaly through a full washing machine cycle and shooting in rainstorms thats the limit of my underwater use for now.. so can't really comment on the flooding problems others have had as mine works well.
I carry it in my back pocket at all times, find its fast to shoot with in hi speed and other modes and have no real problems although usually leave it in the normal camera mode not iAuto, use a few tricks to keep it up to speed for fast action though this drains battery (have a spare and external charger), when i have it on hi speed i keep taping the shutter release lightly (early sony mavica's kept switching off if you didn't do that).. keeps it spun up and ready, another trick to get better shots is to use the spot metering and choose the light effect you want by aiming elsewhere, set with a partial shutter release then compose shot and fully press shutter release...
In my opinion alot of the other "draw backs" can be avoided by getting to know what it can and can't actually do.. shoot a thousand frames and like any camera get to know it... compacts don't have the mass or view finders of SLR's so you hold them away from your body and don't get a solid base to steady them, use tripods etc where you can for a clean shot (don't rely on its stabalizers).. and this camera has another good point.. 2 absolutely solid flat sides it stands up on its own..
This helped with a hand braced 4.5 second night shot of a moonlit church...
I have used it on full zoom, spot metered 64iso 1/80sec clamped to a railing and self timer to avoid shake to take a full moon rising over a city..
The macros are brilliant although the one with "torch" does tend to wash out..
Out of interest I've been taking pictures for over 25yrs, owned slr's and early digitals killed a casio GV-10 before buying the olympus and still use my konica FT-1 SLR for more seriouse shooting... it all boils down to "once you learn to do a job properly any tool can give good results"

j
7
Rating
 

j posted a review   

The Good:hardy and a good traveler

The Bad:clear, crystal shots

I have never had any issues with water leakage.. I have used this camera while traveling for a year around the world. Free diving and it was fine.. stuck in a sand storm in the sahara desert- no problem.. The only issue I have is the quality of pictures and the zoom.. Like Beckie though I also lost my charger.. Has anyone ever had to buy one? Thanks

 

nornor posted a comment   

The Good:as a land camera

The Bad:flooded immediately

This camera flooded under normal snorkelling conditions. We had it repaired. Flooded agin. We had it repaired again. (That took two months!) Took the camera to the Barrier reef. IT FLOODED WITHIN TEN MINUTES !!
THIS CAMERA IS NOT WATERPROOF.
We know 4 people who have this camera. All 4 have flooded, almost immediately. Its about as water-proof as a box of tissues. Please buy a different camera.

 

Jeno posted a reply   

1 flooded at Witsundays first time in water. 30cm deep

JacobM3 Facebook
3
Rating
 

"disappointed"

JacobM3 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:very good concept, nice piece of kit

The Bad:poor quality, and backing/warranty should be backing ur 'waterproofing' claim

well I've had this same camera since xmas of 09 and i have loved it up until today, i have been swimming with it in the pool, taken it to the middle east in dusty environments and it has been good, however today i went for a swim with crocs (cage of death darwin australia) and no more then a meter deep the camera took in water I'm very disappointed with it and probably won't buy another camera like it, especially when i purchased the device for around the 500$ mark, i always make sure both battery and charger ports and nicely tightly shut, i think i better off searching for a waterproof case for my smart phone rather than purchasing another one of these cameras especially if its going to disappoint...=( good concept, epic fail.

Phana
1
Rating
 

Phana posted a review   

The Good:Nil

The Bad:Absolutely everything!!! Two times in for repairs

If you are thinking of purchasing this product, I strongly advise you not too, simply for the following reasons;

1. water seeped into the camera although was in shallow water
2. Received the first repair a couple of days prior to a massive overseas trip (took 6 weeks to repair), and a couple of hours prior to going to the airport and from charging the camera all day, it popped up with a message saying the battery was flat??? This resulted to me having to run around LA and Hawaii looking for a replacement battery which did help BUT the colors were dull and HORRIBLE.I had to edit the colors manually at least 3-4 times to change and brighten my holiday photos which many got ruined.... but wait, there's more
3. Lens wouldn't open many times
4. I dropped the camera whilst sitting on a low chair and the camera lens broke again. This also resulted to me purchasing a Nikon camera in Miami at the fraction of the price on my 4th week of holidays and still kicking myself for not doing this earlier.
5. Back in Melbourne, sent for repairs and returned to me was my letter of complaint for a new camera or refund (which they obviously did not take seriously), the WRONG box, WRONG charger, WRONG manual and VERY disatisfied customer.

I now own the Panasonic FT2 which also promises most of the features above with no issues or complaints. I STRONGLY advise you to NOT purchase the above camera. All this camera did was give me stress and unsatisfied useless ruined photos.

 

JacobM3 posted a reply   
Australia

where did u get urs repaired was it through a warranty? mine had the same water issue =(

 

olympus victim dissatisfied customer number 200 million posted a comment   

The Good:the advertising is good

The Bad:the camera

I went through 3 cameras under warranty but was so busy I had a lapsed warranty and never got to get a 4th replacement camera.. I think that is their true olympus policy - 'a fool and his money are soon parted' ..

Tell your friends to never buy an olympus product as they will steal your money in return for a peice of metal that will end up back in the ground where it came from..scam of the century!! I can't believe they ran a tv commercial.. we'll i guess it was a free bit of advertising..


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User Reviews / Comments  Olympus Mju Tough 8000

  • KathrynN

    KathrynN

    "I took my Olympus in the pool ONCE and had nothing but trouble with it after that!! I had extended warranty and took it back five times! It was never the same, blurry pictures!"

  • BrendonD

    BrendonD

    "I have had mine for near 3 years, they are waterproof. you just have to be diligent and make sure there is no dust or little hairs or anything across the rubber seals."

  • kam006

    kam006

    "This camera is crap... DO NOT BUY... I bought one and went on a trip to use under water, I got one picture and it stopped working as it leaked right away. It was out of warranty so it cost me $175 ..."

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