Olympus Tough TG-810 Review

Inevitably when taking pics of animals [or anything else], the question of camera choice rears it's head. What type, what settings, how much to spend etc, ect ...

And sadly, I am no expert. BUT! I do like recording images of the animals I find and sharing the results [both the good, and the less than good with you].

So what do I use?

Well, up until recently I simply used a small, light, compact digi - the Olympus fe. And believe me, it did the job - for about a year. After which it was finally killed by some sand blown into the lens cover on a beach in Seisia while I was fishing.

The Fe is now sold for about $120.00 + the cost of a memory card. It's a good deal, and if you're not rough with it, it'll probably serve you well. Many of the pics on this blog were taken with that camera.

Now though I have it's bigger, more robust brother.

It's still a compact digi, not a digital SLR like Jo's uber flash and completely daunting camera - I tried to use Jo's camera once - turns out you need a masters from MIT to take the lens cap off ... so I carefully returned it to it's beautiful soft-touch, red trimmed carry bag and haven't gone near it since ...

The olympus tough 810 is one of the 'new' generation cameras geared towards the outdoorsy set. It's water-proof, freeze proof, crush proof and can withstand a fall of 2.0 metres ... which I hope I never have to verify by falling with it - the camera might be all right, but I'd be a bit buggered.

It's also 3D capable [no, I don't know why either], it can record high def film and has a list of settings that can even recognise your dogs/cats face [again, no idea why - but what the hell, maybe Olympus is concerned you wont recognise your own pet through the throng of cats and dogs that hang at your place...?].

Anyway, the very first thing I noticed was it's weight. Compared to your average compact digi - it's a behemoth ... but this serves to make the camera feel it is what it's supposed to be, as rugged and dependable as Bear Gryls jock strap.

And so far, all the claims of being able to withstand nothing short of a tank attack seem to be true. However, there are a couple of flaws that should be addressed.

The battery life is appalling. Even with the GPS off, the camera happily chews and snorts it's way through a full charge with alarming speed. Therefore you are continually having to decide whether 'that' shot should be taken, or will you wait in the hope of a better opportunity presenting itself?.

The buttons are incredibly small and fiddly - frustration is taken to new levels when using the 'joy' stick to navigate ... believe me, there is no joy to be had there.

And the lens position just happens to correspond to where the digits of my left hand like to hang [on many other compact digi camera's this would be where the flash is located].

It's made in China ... of course.

So those are my dislikes.

Now for some positives. It comes with 2GB of internal memory [which of course you can't use up because the battery will die first]. Errr, back to the positives.

It has a plethora of settings that can be changed intuitively if you've ever set up a digi cam before and it comes with a CD [not a painful PDF download], if you'd like to learn more about what the camera can do.

The huge three inch screen is clear and high def, so it's easy to see what it is you're shooting and the results thereafter.

I personally like the macro modes. With the finest/closest setting, rather than using the flash, the light shines like a torch and allows both you and the camera to view the object/animal before snapping the pic.

If you're looking to use it to take close up pics of animals [insects, small frogs etc], I would recommend cycling through the options and turning the AF [automatic focus] to 'spot'. Also ensure you use one of the 'macro' modes as well as turning the image stabilisation on ... especially if you've indulged over Xmas.

The settings even allow you with one or two - slightly fiddly clicks to take pictures underwater of varying scope - close ups on fish, landscape, action etc etc and panoramas are just as easy to achieve above ground.

It also has one touch recording for film with sound, it's easy and quick - so you too can sell that horrific traffic accident or night-club beating to channel nine ... which is nice.

For me this camera isn't perfect. It is though, solid and allows me to take it to the places I go - to click what I like without the fear of destroying it. The picture quality seems adequate - but so far, I'm not overly impressed and I am going to give it a bit of a work out tonight to see what can be seen with it.

At the end of the day - camera choice is surely dependant on need, budget and ability. As I have plenty of the first, and very little of the second or third the Olympus 810 is the camera I have chosen - let's hope we become friends eh?

I'll keep ya posted.

Test Shot - external light source/macro

Click to enlarge images:

Smacro natural light
To give you some idea of scale - the Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog [bottom] is around 25 - 30mm S.V length. All in all - the camera is growing on me and with an extra battery it may well prove to have been a good investment ...

Time will tell.


  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)


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