The Olympus Stylus Tough-6020 is the latest in Olympus' newly renamed "Tough" series of take-a-licking, keep-on-ticking digital cameras. Featuring a shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof body - we're starting to wonder just how many more things Olympus can find to proof their cameras against - the Olympus 6020 is designed to take whatever the elements can throw at it - or perhaps, whatever you might accidentally throw it at! Able to survive a drop from 5 feet, to capture photos at up to 16 feet underwater, and even to be used in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit / -10 degrees Celsius, the photographer is likely to surrender long before the camera does. Inside this impressive exterior are the combination of a 1/2.33"-type fourteen megapixel image sensor and an Olympus-branded 5x optical zoom lens with a useful 28mm wide-angle. A 2.7-inch HyperCrystal-III LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution offers the Olympus Tough-6020's only option for framing and reviewing images, as there's no optical viewfinder on this model. Like its predecessor the Tough-6000, the new Olympus Stylus Tough-6020 includes true mechanical image stabilization - an important feature that forms half of the company's "Dual Image Stabilization" system. The other half is what Olympus calls "Digital Image Stabilization", which increases the ISO sensitivity (and along with it, both the shutter speed and image noise levels) to try and freeze motion. ISO sensitivity ranges from a low of ISO 64 to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent.
Perhaps the Olympus Stylus 6020's most unusual feature is what Olympus has dubbed "Tap Control". A 3D accelerometer in the camera's body is used as an input method, allowing different patterns of taps on the camera's body from different directions to control functions on the camera. For example, a double tap on the camera's side can be used to turn on the camera's flash or Shadow Adjustment function. It's an unusual idea, and one that perhaps makes some sense if you consider that the camera can be used in conditions where taking your hands out of thick gloves might not be the best idea. The Olympus Stylus Tough-6020 employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera's image sensor, and the Stylus 6020 also includes face detection capability, able to detect up to twelve faces in a scene simultaneously. Olympus' Face Detection function is linked to both the autoexposure and autofocus systems, ensuring that your subjects' faces are taken into account when determining both these variables. It also allows for tracking of a subject's face as it moves around the frame,once detected.
A generous nineteen scene modes including several underwater modes are offered in the Olympus 6020, plus a Program Auto mode, allowing users some degree of control over their images without needing to understand the subtleties of shutter speeds and apertures. In-camera image editing is possible, with the Olympus Tough-6020 able to resize images, as well as correct for red-eye and exposure problems, adjust saturation, and even smooth a subject's complexion or call attention to their eyes. An in-camera panorama mode is started with a press of the shutter button followed by panning the camera slowly across the scene. The Stylus Tough-6020 then cleverly captures two more photos by itself at the correct moment, and combines the three images together in-camera to offer a single stitched scene automatically. For creation of larger panoramas up to ten images, the included software can be used on a computer.
As well as still image capture, the Stylus Tough-6020 can record high-definition movies at 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) resolution. For viewing images and movies on a high-definition television, the Olympus Stylus Tough-6020 has HDMI video output connectivity (requiring an optionally available cable), and supports the Consumer Electronics Control standard for remotely controlling playback using your TV's remote control, while images can be transferred to a PC over a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection. A rechargeable LI-50B Lithium Ion battery with charger is included with the Stylus Tough-6020, along with Olympus' [ib] software for viewing and modifying photos. Usefully, the battery can be recharged in-camera using a standard USB cable. Images are stored in a very generous 632MB of internal memory, as well as on Secure Digital memory cards including the newer SDHC types.
The Olympus Stylus Tough-6020 will ship in the USA from February 2010 with pricing of about $300.