Olympus designed the case for the Tough-6000 from the ground up with durability and ruggedness in mind. All ports and access panels are fully gasketed to prevent water intrusion, with the release clips mounted slightly recessed so you don't accidentally open one of them while the camera is in use. The case feels very durable in your hands, with no hint of flexing or creaking when you are holding it.
The plastics feel solid in combination with the stainless steel panels, although it is still comfortable to hold in your hand with the rounded edges. The camera uses a periscope style lens, instead of a telescoping lens which would make waterproofing much more difficult.
In our submersion tests the camera worked beautifully, capturing clear images and movies underwater. The flash gave odd results depending on how the light reflected off of the surface of the water, sometimes creating an overexposed or underexposed image. The microphone picked up underwater sounds clearly, but it was limited to clunks as our soda can bobbed in the water, not the surrounding voice.
One concern with rugged cameras is how do you operate them if you are wearing gloves? With an operating range down to 14F, chances are you will have your fingers inside a mitten to shield them from the cold air. Olympus took this into consideration and included a tap recognition mechanism so you can hit the four sides of the camera to control different functions. Hitting the right side toggles through the flash settings, hitting the left side toggles the macro settings, hitting the top twice clicks OK, and hitting the bottom puts the camera into display mode.
Overall, our initial impression of the Olympus Stylus Tough-6000 is very positive. The camera feels solid and durable, takes reasonably high-quality photos in normal and abnormal conditions, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
Stay tuned for our full review where we will continue our in-depth look at the Tough-6000.