Olympus Tough TG-810

Tough as old boots and about as heavy to match, the TG-810 is packed to the brim with features to complement its waterproof credentials. Just don't expect the GPS to work as promised.


7.7
CNET Rating
2.5
User Rating

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Design and features

You could build a house out of a collection of the brick-like TG-810. That is to say, this camera is built for tough environments and can withstand pretty much anything you choose to throw at it (within reason, of course).

Like the other Tough cameras in the Olympus lineage, the TG-810 inherits a rugged metal chassis, held together by big screws and hinges every which way. Weighing in at over 220g, it's a hefty beast that means serious business. Waterproof to 10m, shockproof from 2m, freezeproof to -10 degrees Celcius and crushproof to 100kg, this is the most rugged camera around. Controls come in the form of small buttons down the back of the camera, as well as a shutter-button and power-button at the top of the camera. The lens is 28mm at its widest end, and is an internal zoom design that reaches 5x optical.

A control nub sits at the base of the back panel, acting as a joypad to navigate through menu structures which, we're pleased to report, have been given an overhaul from previous Olympus systems. To fit in with its rugged description, the TG-810 has a dual-locking side flap that covers the area used to store the battery and SD memory card. It's also home to the proprietary USB connector and a micro HDMI port, the first time we've seen one used on a digital camera.

The 3-inch screen at 920,000-dots is a great way to compose and review images because of its high resolution. Also present are a range of magic filters such as pop-art, fish-eye, pin-hole, sparkle, soft-focus and a curiously named "punk", which we were hoping would go all Young Ones on photos and add Mohawks and piercings. What it really does is change the colour of the image to hot pink and highlight contrasting areas in black. The TG-810 is also compatible with Eye-Fi cards and has a macro LED light for use underwater and on land.

Other features like 3D photography are also on the TG-810, a slightly gimmicky way of keeping up with the Joneses. There's also an electronic compass available, accessible by pressing down on the joystick when the camera is turned off. The joystick is quite difficult to use, particularly as when pressing down to choose a selection often registers as a left or right click, inadvertently changing selections. A built-in manometer (when activated in the menus) shows the current pressure on the screen, as well.

Compared to

TG-810 vs. FT3

Olympus Tough TG-810 Panasonic Lumix FT3 Sony Cyber-shot TX10
14-megapixel CCD 12.1-megapixel CCD 16.2-megapixel Exmor R
3-inch LCD (920,000-dot) 2.7-inch LCD (230,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (921,000-dot)
Waterproof 10m, shockproof 2m Waterproof 12m, shockproof 2m Waterproof 5m, shockproof 1.5m
5x optical zoom 4.6x optical zoom 4x optical zoom
28mm wide-angle 28mm wide-angle 25mm wide-angle
GPS tagging GPS tagging No GPS tagging
HD video (720p) HD video (1080i) HD video (1080i)
AU$399 AU$549 AU$499

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Olympus Tough TG-8101.520.7

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Olympus Tough TG-8100.6

Olympus rates the battery at 240 shots.

Image quality

Olympus has done a lot of work to make the images produced by the TG-810 cleaner and nicer than those from any of its predecessors. Exposures seem more accurate and noise, while still an issue, doesn't plague shots as much as it used to.

That said, you might find it difficult to make enlargements from the 14-megapixel photos, as at full-magnification there is still evidence of over-processing. Given the positioning of the lens, it is easy to let a finger obstruct part of the image if you're not careful with how the camera is held. Automatic white balance is mostly accurate outdoors, and overall lens quality is decent. Sharpness drops off to the side of the frame quite dramatically. Images taken without flash in dark situations often suffer from camera shake, and images over ISO 400 are very noisy.

The GPS takes an absolute age to find and locate a signal. While it is supposed to display location data on-screen, particularly when photographing landmarks, we found that the camera wouldn't even identify and lock on to a signal when taking an image of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Unless you want to leave the camera switched on for a lengthy period of time to obtain a signal, we suggest avoiding this camera if geotagged images are important to you.

The flash is bright and illuminates the scene most at the centre, with noticeable drop-off towards the edges of the frame. 3D-mode takes one image and then provides a faint outline of it on the screen for you to line up the second frame, which it will stitch together with the first image to create an MPO file, viewable on a 3D TV or photo frame.

An example of an image created using the "punk" magic filter on the TG-810. No prizes for guessing what ad we were trying to recreate. (Credit: CBSi)

Video quality is the worst part about the TG-810, as the autofocus is twitchy, the sound is shallow and the image is slightly fuzzy. On the plus side, you can record video in most of the magic filters to apply different effects. The TG-810 produces MP4 video files.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/80, f/14, ISO 200

Exposure: 1/200, f/4.4, ISO 80

Exposure: 1/125, f/11, ISO 80

Exposure: 1/30, f/11, ISO 100

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

Tough as old boots and about as heavy to match, the TG-810 is packed to the brim with features to complement its waterproof credentials. Just don't expect the GPS to work as promised.

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hemlo63
3
Rating
 

"better options out there"

hemlo63 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:nothing that cheaper and better don't do as well

The Bad:overpriced, under delivers

Pretty crap camera. keep getting "write protect" errors on the SD card. Card works fine on other devices.
doesn't retain settings. for instance, if i want the self timer to remain on you have to go back into the settings each time.

DonF1 Facebook
4
Rating
 

"terrible control button"

DonF1 posted a review   

The Good:somewhat tough

The Bad:navigation through settings

Worst Olympus camera I have owned. Almost impossible to use the little button on back to navigate settings. Olympus missed the mark on this one.

Walter A.H Facebook
3
Rating
 

"Good Value for a water resistant camera"

Walter A.H posted a review   

The Good:Solid Built, Water- and Shock Resistance, price ($199)

The Bad:Battery performance sucks, Delayed Shutter, jerky Videos

14MP, Underwater capability 33ft, GPS etc. all for $199..? In Panama this is a great price!, The super solid body claims to withstand falls up to nearly 7 feet and the camera body supposedly has a crush resistance of 220 lbs. and its software is compatible with MAC (most other camera manufacturer only provide software with Windows compatibility).
Having used the camera for a few days I must say that I am satisfied but not thrilled with its performance. Some drawbacks are that you need a learning process (oh, and have a magnifying glass handy to read the instruction manual..). The joystick needs "fine tuning" not to miss the desired option. "Delayed picture shot", "high battery drainage" and "jerky video" are all unsatisfactory to me... Olympus should have at least build-in a lock system for "power-off" and/or provide some feature to de-activate the camera's high power drainage... They (Olympus) seem to simply have forgotten about this or had no remedy/space to incorporate such "battery saving" feature technically... A real bummer in my opinion. I love extended battery life in my "devices and "toys"...
Having said all this, lets look at some of the positive's:
- Solid Build throughout with automated lens cover
- Water Resistance up to 33 feet
- 14MP good flash

GregL2 Facebook
1
Rating
 

"Horrible camera"

GregL2 posted a review   

The Good:Charges via USB

The Bad:Everything else

I have taken over 1000 images with one of these cameras as part of my occupation. I have used many different types and brands of digital cameras over the years, and bought this as I required GPS tagging.

My biggest gripe with this camera is the user interface. The menus are clunky and outdated. There appears to be little logic in the way menu items are located. For example, to set the exposure compensation, a complex menu has to be navigated, whereas most digital cameras have a direct shortcut button, meaning that this can be set by feel alone, without looking at the LCD.

The button configuration is illogical. A power button with a dull LED light is not easy to see the camera is on outdoors in bright light. A power switch would have been better in this situation. The camera takes signigicantly longer to start up than most other cameras I've used.

Battery life is dissapointing. With the GPS on, don't expect much out of the battery. Luckily the camera charges by USB, so it can be easily topped up from another power source. The GPS takes a long time to connect at times (outdoors in an open area) and sometimes it appears that it can say that it's connected, but afterwards, the images appear kilometers from where they actually were taken from.

Try before you buy. You have been warned.

 

craigx posted a comment   
Australia

I am on my third camera in 8mths, they are not that "tought', actaully worse than any normal camera I have owned. I have had various problems ranging from a faulty cover(casuing the camera to not turn) to water entering the camera through the buttons. Their service also is a bit average(where I am anyway in Thailand), as they have just sent my camera back after 2 weeks, still broken.

Trevtassie
1
Rating
 

"GPS is WORSE THAN USELESS"

Trevtassie posted a review   

Just talked to Olympus, and the GPS is constantly on, even when the camera is switched off, as is the compass, constantly draining the battery. You can disable the GPS, but not the compass so battery life is still abysmal.
Oh why did I throw that box away!

Trevtassie
1
Rating
 

"Don't Bother"

Trevtassie posted a review   

The Good:Shiny

The Bad:Hmmm where do I start...battery life????

Olympus, go stand in the corner. No, no talking. You've been very naughty.
Unfortunately I've done my dough on this worthless piece of crap. Having owned a variety of Olympus Tough Cameras, starting from the very first one, my dissapointment with this one is huge.
Battery life is non existent. Try a day of mild use, and that's WITH THE GPS TURNED OFF. Turn the GPS on and the battery life should be measured in minutes not days.
The GPS function is completely worthless, leaving the camera on long enough to get a fix simply ensures the battery goes flatter even quicker.
Another feature I really like is how it won't take a picture straight away after you switch it on. If you switch it on then press the shutter, it waits for a few seconds then takes the picture, you have to press and release the shutter then press it again to get a quicker shot. No way to get those random moments you see. WTF!
Oh and another brilliant piece of engineering...the movie function shutter is controlled by the button on the back, not the shutter button, so you have to operate it with your thumb. Now there's thinking! Idiots....
I really like the fiddly little joy stick thingo too, as I love scrolling through menus again having accidentally selected something instead of scrolling (it doubles as the OK button). Maybe that's my problem, I accidentally selected "drain the battery as fast as possible mode" whilst scrolling around.
My tip: Save your money and buy a TG610...

Anyone
2
Rating
 

"update on previous comments. GPS is practically useless,"

Anyone posted a review   
Australia

An update on my previous comments for GPS function. Compared a Garmin GPS60 side by side. The Garmin got a fix in 30 seconds, The camera took 10.5 minutes to get a fix. It does the same when GPS update is selected while the camera has a fix. For a GPS camera, 10.5 minutes for a GPS fix and a compass that reads backwards is appalling. Pictures are fine. GPS and compass are useless.

Anyone
5
Rating
 

"Solid camera with some useful features and some let downs"

Anyone posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Very solid, easy panorama shots, tap navigation, good menu system

The Bad:GPS VERY slow to update, Compass readings for E & W reversed

Don't expect to geotag any spontanious moments. While initial slow sat fix is expected, GPS fix updates are also extremely slow. Currently the compass is reversed for E and W despite having the correct GPS region.
Other features are great. solidly built, choice of navigation methods; tap or toggle, though easy to get errors with the toggle direction. Auto 3 photo panorama shots are easy with seemless joins. It is built like a brick. Feels like the camera could take some serious knocks.
I bought this camera for work to take georeferenced photos therefore needed waterproof GPS. It is very dissapointing in this regard, being slow for GPS fixes and currently suffering compass errors. I suspect GPS reception may also suffer near trees and buildings. Great camera otherwise but very pricey when a premium is paid for poorly implemented GPS and compass features.

 

"Rugged, really waterproof, good pics for compact"

HarveyL posted a comment   

The Good:Simple to use, quality,

The Bad:Shutter lag make action shots difficult

Feels solid, excellent locking on battery compartment, really feels secure. Pics are good quality for a compact even on digital zoom. GPS took a while to lock-in initially. Simple to use, haven't read the manual yet. Some shutter lag can be annoying


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User Reviews / Comments  Olympus Tough TG-810

  • hemlo63

    hemlo63

    Rating3

    "Pretty crap camera. keep getting "write protect" errors on the SD card. Card works fine on other devices.
    doesn't retain settings. for instance, if i want the self timer to remain on you have..."

  • DonF1

    DonF1

    Rating4

    "Worst Olympus camera I have owned. Almost impossible to use the little button on back to navigate settings. Olympus missed the mark on this one."

  • Walter A.H

    Walter A.H

    Rating3

    "14MP, Underwater capability 33ft, GPS etc. all for $199..? In Panama this is a great price!, The super solid body claims to withstand falls up to nearly 7 feet and the camera body supposedly has a ..."

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