Body Design and Feel
The Stylus Tough-8000 lives up to its name. It's covered in a protective layer of metal and feels like it will withstand quite a few jolts and drops. The camera looks strong with its metal edges and screws that look like bolts on the front. It also feels sturdy thanks to some nice heft. The camera measures 3.7 x 2.4 x 0.85 inches (W x H x D) and weighs about 7.4 ounces with battery and memory card in place. Even though the camera may be waterproof, it doesn’t float. If you should drop it while diving, expect it to head straight to the bottom unless you catch it.
Our test model had a black case; silver and blue bodies are also available. The black portion of the camera on the front tended to attract fingerprints. The rest of the casing had less of an issue with fingerprints, though fingerprints were still visible. All fingerprints were easily removed with a microfiber cloth.
Many point and shoot cameras use a lens that extends from the body while powered on. Should you accidentally drop such a camera, you’re likely to jam the lens and render the camera inoperable. This shouldn’t be a problem with the Stylus Tough-8000 since its wide-angle lens doesn’t extend from the body when you power up. A metal lens cover slides up and down to protect the lens when not in use.
The camera’s lens is located in the upper corner of the camera. Because of the placement of the lens, some users may find that they need to adjust how they hold the camera so as to not block the lens with their finger. On a few instances, I also noticed that I held the camera in such a way where my finger partially blocked the flash. Although neither the placement of the lens nor the placement of the flash is necessarily bad design, it is worth mentioning since some users may have to adjust how they hold the camera so as to not interfere with the picture.
Between the Stylus Tough-8000’s lens and flash you’ll find a small LED illuminator for focus. This LED can also be used while shooting in supermacro mode. Also on the front of the camera is a two-pinhole microphone.
On the top of the camera you’ll find the shutter button and a small, circular power button. Near the power button, there’s also an underwater sensor. When the manometer feature is enabled, the camera can display the current altitude or water depth in the shooting mode screen. This feature can display a warning message as the water depth nears 32.8 feet. For best results, you’ll want to calibrate this feature when using it.
The right side of the camera has a multi-use connector behind a compartment with a sturdy lock. This multi-use connector can be used for charging the battery, watching images on a TV, or transferring photos and videos to a PC. Below the connector is a small speaker.
On the bottom of the Stylus Tough-8000, you’ll find a tripod socket as well as a compartment for the battery and xD picture card slot.
The back of the camera is loaded with controls as well as a 2.7-inch LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution. This LCD serves as the camera’s only option for framing images since there’s no optical viewfinder. The monitor worked well in a variety of lighting situations including direct sunlight.
The back of the Stylus Tough-8000 has a rugged look with its sturdy metal keys. The keys are relatively small, though as I noted previously I had very little trouble using them even while wearing thick gloves. The controls are pretty similar to what you would find on other point and shoot digital cameras. At the top, you’ll find the zoom buttons. Directly beneath them is a mode dial with positions for iAuto, Program, Scene, Beauty, Movie, and Playback modes.
Below the mode dial, you’ll find a four-way controller with a center OK/Func button. Using the arrow pad, you can access exposure compensation, macro, self-timer, and flash functions. Surrounding the four-way controller, you’ll find Menu, Playback, Display, and OR/Trash buttons. The OR, or Olympus Recommended, button provides access to panorama, tap control, Shadow Adjustment Technology, multi window, and erase functions. The Shadow Adjustment feature finds a person’s face that is darkened by backlight and makes it appear brighter for taking the picture. The multi window feature lets you preview the effect of four different zoom, exposure compensation, white balance, or brightness values. You can select one of these previews to automatically switch to the corresponding setting.