Perhaps the Stylus Tough-8000’s most unique feature is what Olympus calls Tap Control. Using a 3D accelerometer, the camera’s entire body can be used as an input device, allowing you to change functions on the camera by tapping the camera’s body. For example, a tap on the camera's left side can be used to set the camera’s macro mode. A tap on the right side of the camera controls the camera’s flash mode. To switch to playback mode, you can tap below the display on the back of the camera. In any of these modes, you can tap the side of the camera in the direction you want to scroll. To toggle the Tap Control on or off or to confirm a selection, tap the top of the camera twice.
Tap Control is definitely an unusual feature, but it makes a lot of sense for a camera that is made to be used in cold conditions when taking your hands out of thick gloves may not be the best idea. In order to subject the Tap Control features to a real-world test, I grabbed my thick ski gloves and tested all of the Tap Controls. Although there were a few times where I had to tap more than once in order for the camera to recognize what I was doing, the Tap Controls worked very smoothly over all. Given that thick gloves may make it a bit more difficult to hold the camera (especially while tapping), I recommend using the camera’s wrist strap. That said, even if you should accidentally drop the camera while tapping it should survive without issue, assuming the drop is less than 6.6 feet.
While testing the camera’s Tap Controls with my gloves on, I also attempted to press the Stylus Tough-8000’s relatively small control buttons. First, I powered on the camera. Next, I changed shooting modes and then proceeded to use the telephoto and wide angle zoom buttons as well as the other control buttons. Even though the buttons are pretty small, I was able to press each button without interference from my gloves or from the other buttons.
To help you capture the best picture in a variety of environments, the Stylus Tough-8000 offers 19 scene modes. A handful of these scene modes are designed for use underwater. More specifically, the scene modes are: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach & Snow, Underwater Snapshot, Underwater Wide 1, Underwater Wide 2, Underwater Macro, Pre-Capture Movie, and Snow. If you want the camera to choose settings based on what it senses are best, you can use the fully automatic iAUTO mode. For users who prefer a bit more control, many of the modes let you adjust the camera’s white balance, ISO sensitivity, burst shooting mode, exposure compensation, flash, and more. Full manual controls are not available on this camera.
The Stylus Tough-8000 also includes face detection capability and is able to detect up to sixteen faces in a scene simultaneously. Olympus links the face detection function to the camera’s autoexposure and autofocus systems so your subjects’ faces are taken into account when calculating camera settings for both of these variables. Once the Stylus Tough-8000’s face detection capability finds a face, it can track that subject as it moves around the frame.
For portrait shots, the Stylus Tough-8000 offers a BEAUTY mode which uses face detection to find a person’s face and gives their skin a smooth, translucent look. This mode works by capturing an image and then automatically retouching it. Both the unedited and edited versions of the picture are saved to the memory card. The edited version is limited to a 2MP still. In my tests, the BEAUTY mode seemed to improve minor imperfections on one’s face, though it also added a soft focus effect. As a result, the “beauty” pictures weren’t quite as crisp or vibrant as the original. In all fairness, if I wouldn’t have had both the original and the edited versions to compare side by side, I may not have noticed the soft focus quite as much, though anyone with a very discerning eye would definitely notice.
Another unique feature of the Stylus Tough-8000 is its Pixel Mapping option. Although the user manual does a poor job at explaining what this feature does, it’s really quite simple. It’s not uncommon for a few of the camera’s millions of pixels to fail to work properly. These stuck or dead pixels can be seen as tiny bright white spots in an image. It’s possible the number of stuck pixels can increase during a camera’s lifespan. The Pixel Mapping feature essentially maps out these pixels so they do not interfere with your images. Some manufacturers require you to send your camera into a service center to map out these pixels. In the camera’s user manual, Olympus notes the function has already been adjusted before shipping so no adjustment is needed right after purchase. Olympus recommends using the function approximately once a year.
As mentioned, the Stylus Tough-8000 is the first in its family to include Dual Image Stabilization. Olympus uses mechanical Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization to adjust the internal image sensor and compensate for camera movement even in low-light conditions with slower shutter speeds. Digital Image Stabilization works to freeze action by adjusting the camera’s ISO settings and shutter speeds to help prevent blurry images caused by a moving subject.
The Stylus Tough-8000 comes with the following:
- USB Cable
- Audio/ Video Cable
- Wrist Strap
- Lithium-Ion Battery (LI-50B)
- AC Adapter (F-1AC)
- Olympus Master 2 Software CD-ROM
- Warranty Card
- MASD-1 (microSD Adapter)