Crucially, the Tough 6010 really impresses when it comes to image quality. In 35mm terms, the lens is equivalent to a 28-102mm, which is a practical length for general out-and-about photography and landscapes.

Despite our best efforts, we never spotted any of the chromatic aberrations or purple fringing that often afflicts the small lenses on compact cameras.

We also liked the detail in our images. The Tough has a 12mp sensor, which means its best-quality images are a massive 3968 x 2976. With compression set to Fine, we were delighted with our test images.

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Far-off textures such as brickwork and foliage showed none of the muddy colours that come from over-aggressive JPEG compression. Colours were accurate and well-balanced, producing final images not far off those of a budget DSLR in quality terms. It's only once you start pushing the Tough's ISO settings that things start to come unstuck.

Everything up to ISO 800 looks reasonably good, if a little washed-out at ISOs 400 and 800. Push to the Tough's maximum 1600, though, and there's a definite quality trade-off for the extra sensitivity.

Other than that, the worst complaint we can make is that the Tough's auto-metering occasionally left our images over-exposed.

Fortunately the Tough allows you to adjust exposure compensation to two stops over or under what it thinks is right.

Performance is also good. Start-up took almost exactly three seconds in our tests, and the average time between shots was a shade over 2.2 seconds.