Olympus camera is tough cookie (with a colourful shell)

Anyone who’s seen the adverts for those tough kids’ cameras, where the little boy tosses the camera across the garden, runs it under the tap and still manages to take a very passable snap of his pet dog and thought; “hmm, wish they did one of those for grown-ups”, need wish no more.

Olympus has put together a nifty package in the shape of the Mju TOUGH-3000, which boasts the ability to be dropped from 1.5m, to be waterproof to 3m and freezeproof to -10C.

Now I know we’ve had some pretty extreme weather this winter, but by my reckoning that should have your average outing covered, as well as holidays whether you’re a keen skier or a beach bunny.

It also has the added advantage of being a camera the whole family can use – if you’ve a younger child who loves to take photos, you’ll have no fear of them taking a few snaps with this camera.

And at £199.99, it’s not a bad price for a 12mp camera with a 3.6x optical zoom. The last incarnation, the Mju TOUGH 6010, hit the shelves at a tad under 300 quid – getting on for the price of a cheap DSLR – so affordability has improved over the past year. When you consider that those kids’ cameras only offer 1.3mp pictures and retail at around 55 quid, it definitely sounds like a good deal. And as it doubles as an underwater camera – allowing for shots in the swimming pool or out snorkelling – you’re getting an all-round camera for virtually any location.

As well as being sturdy enough to be flung in a bag for a day out, or passed around at a party, the latest addition to the Olympus stable has the added benefit of HD video recording, which you can replay on the telly after that party thanks to the HDMI connection, or quickly search through your images by event, people or location, using Olympus’ new software. And if, like me, you’re forever running out of space on your memory card or forgetting to charge the battery, a useful 1GB of internal memory and USB charging will be a huge benefit..

Another useful feature for outdoors lovers (and anyone who wants to be prepared to catch all those snowballing and sledging pictures if the great whiteout of 2009 is repeated) is the Tap Control function, which lets the user operate the camera by tapping the body – fabulous if you’re wearing gloves or shooting underwater. When turned on, this facility lets you change flash and macro modes, confirm settings and toggle between record and playback modes. You can also flip through existing images.

Remember the Mju-TOUGH is still a point-and-click camera, but with settings for underwater, Dual Image Stabilisation and Af Tracking to avoid images blurring, advanced face detection for parties and – my particular favourite – Beauty mode, which makes skin appear brighter, smoother and more youthful, for most people’s family and holiday shots it should be more than adequate.

It might be a tough cookie, but it still manages to look good, and buyers can choose from striking colours including Oxide Red, Turquoise Blue, Hot Pink and Emerald Green when it launches in March.