Controls, Response, and Menus
The Stylus Tough-8000’s menu system resembles that of a cell phone with a series of large icons in a grid layout that lead to submenus. This makes for a more graphically interesting setup than we typically see on cameras. Overall, the menu system is pretty easy to read and navigate.
In many shooting modes, you can access a variety of controls such as white balance, ISO sensitivity, burst shooting mode, image quality settings, and more by pressing the OK/Func button.
As mentioned, manual controls on the Stylus Tough-8000 are scarce, though most users will likely be too busy snorkeling or skiing to mind that they can’t set a custom white balance or choose a particular aperture. Although the Stylus Tough-8000 lacks full manual controls that would allow you to set a shutter speed or select a specific aperture, there are some preset customization options you can use. For example, you can adjust the camera’s white balance by selecting from one of the preset white balance settings (sunny, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent 1, fluorescent 2, and fluorescent 3). You can also manually set the ISO to one of the predefined values.
The exposure compensation range on the Stylus Tough-8000 is pretty similar to what you would see on other cameras, ±2 EV in 1/3 stops. One of the nice things about the multi window feature is that you can preview four different exposure compensation settings in real time and then pick the one that looks the best.
Something we’ve seen from a lot of manufacturers this year is an intelligent auto option which will sense the scene and select the shooting mode (sports, portrait, landscape, etc) the camera deems most appropriate. In keeping with this trend, Olympus has included an intelligent auto option on the Stylus Tough-8000.
The camera icon on the mode dial denotes an automatic shooting mode on many cameras. With the Stylus Tough-8000 however, this icon denotes a shooting mode that lets you adjust the ISO, white balance, and shadow adjustment. The camera’s iAuto mode serves as the Stylus Tough-8000’s fully automatic mode that requires no adjusting—simply aim and shoot.
As mentioned, the macro mode has its own dedicated button. By pressing the macro button, you can choose from normal macro, supermacro, and supermacro with LED. The camera’s optical zoom and flash are only accessible in the normal macro mode. Normal macro mode enables shooting as close as 3.9 inches when the zoom is at the widest position. In the most telephoto position, normal macro mode enables shooting at 11.8 inches. Supermacro mode lets you get as close as 0.8 inches to the subject. For conditions where proper illumination of your subject at a very close distance is a challenge, supermacro with LED illuminates a subject that is within 2.8 to 7.9 inches from the lens when the shutter button is pressed halfway down.
The camera’s performance was acceptable for its class. Start up time seemed on-par for a point-and-shoot digital camera. Writing 12-megapixel Fine JPEGs to a Type M+ xD card took nearly four seconds during which time we had to wait until we could take another shot. For times when you want to capture multiple images in a burst, the Stylus Tough-8000 has two sequential shooting modes. In the first mode, you can capture about 1 frame per second. In the high-speed sequential shooting mode, you can shoot approximately 5 frames per second, but these images will be of lower quality (approximately 3MP).
For users who would prefer to save their images on a microSD card, Olympus has included an xD to microSD adapter (shown below) with the Stylus Tough-8000. We tested the adapter using a SanDisk 16GB microSDHC card and noticed no discernable change in the camera’s responsiveness or speed.