Olympus Mju Tough 3000 Review
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000 (also known as the Stylus Tough 3000) is the newest member of Olympus' extensive range of shockproof and waterproof digital camera range. The Mju 3000 features high-definition video recording for the first time on a Tough camera, offers a number of Magic Filter effects for easy in-camera processing, and features SD / SDHC card support rather than Olympus' proprietary xD format. Waterproof to a depth of 3m, shockproof against falls to 1.5m, and freezeproof down to -10°C, the metal-bodied Mju Tough 3000 should survive pretty much anything that you subject it to. Other standout features include a 12 megapixel sensor, 3.6x wide optical zoom with sensor-shift image stabilisation, 1GB of internal storage, In-Camera Manual and an HDMI port. The Olympus Mju Tough 3000 is available in Oxide Red, Turquoise Blue, Hot Pink and Emerald Green for £199 / $230.
Ease of Use
From the outside the Tough 3000 looks a lot like its recent stablemates, the 6010 and 8000 models. It's about the size of a pack of cigarettes, but weighs substantially more due to being made of (mostly) metal, weighing in at 160g. Most of the front plate is covered in a glossy plastic and features a tiny hole for the microphone, an activity LED, built-in flash and the 3.6x, 28-112mm lens, which is always hidden behind a clear plastic cover regardless of whether the camera is in use or not. This can quickly get covered in dirt and fingerprints, so make sure to keep it clean. The lens is also positioned right in the corner of the camera body, making it easy for a finger to stray into shot.
On the top plate of the Tough 3000 are the disappointingly cheap-feeling plastic On/Off and shutter release buttons, set into a black plastic with two metal screws, and which have a very spongy and unresponsive action. The external controls are one of the areas where Olympus have clearly cut some corners to hit the sub £200 / $250 price-point.
Most of the camera's rear is taken up by the 2.7", 230,000-dot monitor which, in the absence of an optical viewfinder, serves as the only means of framing your shots. In the top right corner, when viewed from the back, we find the - rather small - zoom rockers for operating the 3.6x lens. Directly beneath them is a small button with a red dot which is for one-touch movie recording, a useful control that saves having to dip into and out of the menu system, and a round speaker.
In the bottom right corner, there is a button cluster that will be familiar to almost anyone who has ever handled a digital compact camera. This comprises a four-way controller with direct access to Info, which lets you cycle through various sets of overlaid information, including compositional grid-lines and a live histogram - though sadly not both at the same time - and Delete, plus a centered OK button for confirming actions. Around this navigation pad are the usual Menu and Playback buttons, plus a button for accessing the camera's fairly handy built-in Help system.
The ever-present Function menu is a vertical column of icons which runs along the right side of the LCD screen. These icons provide access to the camera's main features - shooting mode, flash, macro, self-timer, exposure compensation, white balance, ISO, burst mode, and finally the Setup menu. While this system centralises all the important features in one place, constantly having to press the OK button and navigate through the list quickly becomes tiresome, especially as the camera doesn't remember which function you were previously using. You can also preview the effect of some of the settings in real time in a multi-frame window, for example exposure compensation. While this is cool, it is perceivably slower to load than the simple scales employed by other cameras.
I also can't understand why Olympus didn't assign the ISO speed and exposure compensation to the left and right navigation pad buttons, as on other Mju Tough models. Compounding the general lack of finesse is the fact that all the rear buttons are part of a spongy and unresponsive rubberised panel, with a press of a button often resulting in nothing happening. I found that pressing down with a thumbnail was the most reliable method. Given that this is a camera that can be used at temperatures as low as -10 degrees Centigrade, when people tend to wear gloves, this can be even more of a problem, especially as the Mju 3000 doesn't offer the innovative "tap control system" of other Tough models.
The right-hand side of the camera has a large wrist strap eyelet plus a multi-connector hidden behind a sealed and lockable door. The shared battery / card compartment - the Mju Tough 3000 thankfully uses SD / SDHC cards, as well as offering a very handy 1Gb of internal memory, enough for 82 high-res pictures - opens to the bottom, and also houses the HDMI port for easy connection to a HDTV and a USB port which can be used to recharge the camera by connecting it to a PC or other suitable device. There are no controls on the left side of the Tough 3000, while the bottom houses a centrally positioned metal tripod socket.
The Mju Tough 3000 is a purely point-and-shoot camera with no user control over aperture and shutter speed. You do get a large selection of scene modes, plus an iAuto mode that analyses the scene in front of the lens and automatically picks one of the five most often used scene modes based on this analysis. There is a P mode as well, denoted with a camera icon, which gives you control over things like white balance and ISO. The macro mode offers a choice of normal macro and supermacro, the latter providing a closest focusing distance of 2cms. The optical zoom and the flash are only usable in the standard macro mode - the lens is fixed at the wide end in the supermacro mode, and the flash is turned off.
The Tough 3000 also adds in-camera digital effects in the form of Magic Filters. These are basically a junior version of the Art Filters found on E-series DSLRs and Digital Pens. Here we get the colour saturation boosting Pop Art, the corner darkening Pinhole camera, charcoal pencil-like Sketch and 180° Fisheye options selectable via the cartoon-ish icons that pop up with a press of the menu button on the Mju's backplate. As we found with the Mju 6010 that we reviewed last year, results vary and, though the temptation is to do otherwise, the filters are best deployed sparingly. The beauty mode located in the shooting mode menu smoothes or rather blurs skin tones free of obvious blemishes, while the Panorama mode can automatically stitch 3 images together, although not as intuitively as on Sony compacts.
The camera's performance was OK for its class. Start-up took about 3 seconds, and committing 12 megapixel Fine JPEGs to an SD card required nearly four seconds. While you don't have to wait this long to take the next picture - shot-to-shot times averaged 2 seconds in single-shot mode - you cannot enter playback until the camera finishes writing the just-captured image to the card. In addition, the Mju Tough 3000 has two different sequential shooting modes. The "regular" burst mode is around 1 frame per second for up to 21 pictures, but there is a high-speed version that can capture 11 photos at 5fps. The downside is that this latter mode limits the resolution of just 3 megapixels.
|Memory Card Slot||Battery Compartment|
As regards the auto-focus, its speed was acceptable for a camera in this class, but I wasn't always happy with the way it worked. There are three types of AF available in Program mode, Face Detection, iESP and Spot. Face Detection worked as long as the faces were well lit and not positioned at too sharp an angle, but struggled otherwise. When no face could be detected, the camera would default to iESP, an AF mode where "i" stands for "intelligent". In this mode, the camera picks an AF point on its own - but alas, not all that intelligently. Spot AF was at least reliable, but there is no way to manually select an off-centre focus point.
Like virtually all digital compacts - and now an increasing number of DSLRs - the Mju Tough 3000 can capture movies as well as stills. The movie mode is has been upgraded to 1280x720 pixels at 30fps (with VGA and QVGA also available), bringing the Tough 3000 up to speed with several recent rivals. The maximum recording time is 29 minutes at the highest quality. By default, mono sound is recorded with your videos, but sadly you cannot use the optical zoom. There is a special function in movie mode, called DIS. It continuously steadies the image while recording a video clip. This is different to the sensor-shift mechanism used for stills, but works well nonetheless.
The Mju Tough 3000 has one feature that is quite unique, especially for its class: pixel mapping. Unfortunately, the manual does a poor job of explaining what this is, even though it's quite simple. Digital camera sensors contain millions of pixels and usually there are a few that do not work. These are referred to as "stuck" or "dead" pixels, and their numbers might increase somewhat during the camera's lifespan. These can be seen as tiny bright white spots in an image. These pixels can be mapped out, but most manufacturers require you to send your camera in to a service centre for this, and perhaps also to pay a fee. Users of the Olympus Mju Tough 3000 can do this themselves simply by activating the Pixel Mapping function from the menu. The whole thing takes less than half a minute.
In summary the Olympus Mju Tough 3000 adds a smattering of must-have features for 2010, most notably HD movies, but suffers from an unresponsive control system that's too difficult to use whilst wearing gloves or underwater. Now let's take a look at the camera's image quality...
All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000 produced images of above average quality during the review period. Noise is the biggest problem, visible at the relatively slow ISO settings of 200 and becoming progressively worse as you move up the ISO range, with 800 and 1600 not really worth using.
Chromatic aberrations were well controlled, with limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The 12 megapixel images were soft at the default sharpen setting and require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, as you can't change the in-camera sharpening level.
Macro performance is very good, allowing you to focus as close as 2cms away from the subject. The built-in flash worked well enough indoors, with no red-eye and adequate overall exposure. The magic filters provide a certain novelty value rather than being genuinely useful.
Anti-shake is very useful when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The disappointing maximum shutter speed of 4 seconds doesn't allow the camera to capture enough light for most after-dark situations.
There are 6 ISO settings available on the Olympus Mju Tough 3000. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.
ISO 64 (100% Crop)
ISO 100 (100% Crop)
ISO 200 (100% Crop)
ISO 400 (100% Crop)
ISO 800 (100% Crop)
ISO 1600 (100% Crop)
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000's 3.6x zoom lens offers a fairly versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:
Here are two 100% Crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can't change the in-camera sharpening level.
Original (100% Crop)
Sharpened (100% Crop)
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000 has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.
|12M Fine (4.57Mb) (100% Crop)||12M Normal (2.45Mb) (100% Crop)|
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000 handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review, with very limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.
Example 1 (100% Crop)
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000 offers a Super Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 2cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.
The flash settings on the Olympus Mju Tough 3000 are Auto, Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, and Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.
Off - Wide Angle (28mm)
Fill-in - Wide Angle (28mm)
Off - Telephoto (102mm)
Fill-in - Telephoto (102mm)
And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the On or the Red-eye reduction settings caused any red-eye.
|On (100% Crop)|
Red-eye reduction (100% Crop)
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000's maximum shutter speed is 4 seconds in the Night scene mode, which is disappointing news if you're seriously interested in night photography, as it doesn't allow you to capture enough light in most situations. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 4 seconds at ISO 64. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like - unfortunately not very good...
Night Shot (100% Crop)
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000 has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results. As you can see, with anti shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.
Shutter Speed / Focal Length
Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)
Anti Shake On (100% Crop)
|1/5th / 28mm|
|1/3rd / 102mm|
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000 offers 4 different Magic Filters, which allow you to easily create the following effects in-camera.
This is a selection of sample images from the Olympus Mju Tough 3000 camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.
Sample Movie & Video
Front of the Camera
Rear of the Camera
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Rear of the Camera / Turned On
Rear of the Camera / Function Menu
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Rear of the Camera / Help Manual
Top of the Camera
Bottom of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Front of the Camera
Front of the Camera
Memory Card Slot
The Mju Tough 3000 brings Olympus' all-action camera range to a wider audience thanks to it's budget price-tag, but at the expense of an ill-thought-out control system and below par image quality.
Although it isn't quite as tough as previous models, the Mju 3000 should still be able to survive the majority of knocks, scrapes and hostile environments, only really lacking in the crush-proof department. From beaches to swimming pools, rainforests to deserts, coral reefs to mountain tops, this camera can handle them all, which can't be said about most compacts, and is pretty impressive given the reduced cost of entry.
Sadly this doesn't also apply to the ergonomics, with the external controls generally being far too small and unresponsive for operation with bare hands, never mind with gloves on or underwater. Added to the constant need to dip into the menu system, this obviously this limits where you'll end up using the Mju Tough 3000, which rather wastes its impressive credentials. Image quality too is something of a letdown, with noise all too evident at ISO 200 and a general lack of sharpness spoiling an otherwise competent performance.
On the plus side, this is the only Tough model to offer high-definition movies, so if moving images are important to you, look no further, although the inability to zoom while recording is frustrating. The much-advertised Magic Filters are a little gimmicky, with the move to SD memory cards rather than the proprietary xD-Picture format that Olympus have persisted with for many years being of much greater benefit.
The Olympus Mju Tough 3000 is an all-action camera that ultimately suffers from being built to a budget price-point. If you can stomach the user interface and so-so image quality, it still makes a very versatile family snapper, but we'd advise spending a little more to avoid the Mju Tough 3000's problems.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4|
|Effective pixels||12 Megapixels|
|Filter array||Primary colour filter (RGB)|
|Full resolution||12.7 Megapixels|
|Type||1/2.33 '' CCD sensor|
|Optical zoom||3.6 x (WIDE)|
|Focal length||5.0 - 18.2 mm|
|Focal length (equiv. 35mm)||28 - 102 mm|
|Structure||10 lenses / 8 groups|
|Aspherical glass elements||2|
|Maximum aperture||3.5 - 5.1|
|Enlargement factor||5 x / 18 x combined with optical zoom|
|Monitor size||6.9 cm / 2.7 ''|
|Brightness adjustment||+/- 2 levels|
|Method||TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection|
|Modes||Face Detection AF, iESP, Spot, AF Tracking|
|Standard mode||0.5m - ∞ (wide) / 0.5m - ∞ (tele)|
|Makro mode||0.1m - ∞ (wide) / 0.3m - ∞ (tele)|
|Super Macro mode||Closest focusing distance: 2 cm|
|Histogram in shooting mode||Yes|
|Modes||ESP light metering, Spot metering|
|Modes||i-Auto, Programme automatic, Scene Modes, Magic Filter, Beauty, Panorama, Movie|
|Shutter speed||1/4 - 1/2000 s / < 4 s (Night scene)|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2 EV / 1/3 steps|
|Enhancement function||Mechanical Image Stabilizer
Shadow Adjustment Technology
Advanced Face Detection Technology
|Number of scene modes||19|
|Modes||Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Scene with portrait, Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self-portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow, Snow|
|Auto||AUTO / High AUTO Automatically selected|
|Manual||ISO 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|AUTO WB system||Yes|
|Preset values||Overcast, Sunlight, Tungsten, Flourescent 1, Flourescent 2, Flourescent 3|
|Working range (wide)||0.1 - 4.0 m (ISO 800)|
|Working range (tele)||0.3 - 2.7 m (ISO 800)|
|Modes||AUTO, Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, Off|
|Sequential shooting mode (high speed)||5.0 fps / 11 frames (in 3MP mode)|
|Sequential shooting mode||1.0 fps / 21 frames|
|Black & White||Yes|
|Attach a calendar||Yes|
|Correction of saturation||Yes|
|Index||Yes 4x3 / 6x5 frames|
|Zoom||Yes 1.1 - 10 x|
|Image protect mode||Yes|
|Histogram in playback mode||Yes|
|Frame by frame||Yes|
|Still Image Recording|
|Movie Recording System|
|Image Stabilisation Mode||Digital Image Stabilisation|
|Movie quality||720P Recording time: 29min.
VGA Recording time: no limit
QVGA Recording time: no limit
Note: maximum file size 4GB
|Sound Recording System|
|Sound recording||Yes , format: WAV|
|Image footage||4 s|
|Removable Media||SD / SDHC|
|Internal memory||1 GB|
|12M||3968 x 2976|
|5M||2560 x 1920|
|3M||2048 x 1536|
|2M||1600 x 1200|
|1M||1280 x 960|
|VGA||640 x 480|
1920 x 1080
|Menu languages in camera||39 languages (Japanese, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese (BR + PT), German, Italian, Russian, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Greek, Slovak, Turkish, Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Korean, Simple Chinese, Traditional Chinese,Thai, Arabic, Bulgarian, Romanian, Persian, Indonesian, Hebrew, Malay, Vietnamese)|
|Shock resistant||Shock-proof from heights of up to 1.5m *|
|Waterproof||Waterproof up to a water pressure equivalent to 3m depth **|
|Freezeproof||Freezeproof up to -10°C ***|
|Perfect Shot Preview||Yes|
|Self timer||2 / 12 s|
* Equivalent to MIL Standard (Olympus test conditions)
** According to IEC standard publication 529 IPX8
*** According to Olympus test conditions
|Battery||LI-42B Lithium-Ion Battery|
|HDMI™||Yes Mini connector (type C)|
|DC input||Yes (CB-MA3 required)|
|Combined A/V & USB output||Yes|
|USB 2.0 High Speed||Yes|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||95.9 x 65.0 x 23.4 mm|
|Weight||159 g (including battery and memory card)|