The Tough TG-810 is closely related to the existing TG-710 model, and likewise features a shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof, crushproof, scratch-resistant body, designed to take whatever the elements can throw at it. The biggest differences are the addition of a built-in GPS receiver, compass and manometer, a better-sealed and ruggedized body, a slight decrease in burst shooting rate, and a narrower flash range. Able to survive a drop from 6.6 feet (versus 5 feet for the TG-710), to withstand a 100kg crush weight, to capture photos at up to 33 feet underwater (versus 16 feet), and even to be used in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit / -10 degrees Celsius, the photographer is likely to surrender long before the camera does. Impressively, the rugged body's exterior dimensions are unchanged from the TG-710, although body-only weight increases by over an ounce to 7.8 ounces (221 grams). Inside are the combination of a 1/2.3"-type, 14 effective megapixel image sensor and an Olympus-branded 5x optical zoom lens, which offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a useful 28mm wide-angle to a useful 140mm telephoto.
A 3.0-inch HyperCrystal III LCD display with 920,000 dot resolution offers the Olympus TG-810's only option for framing and reviewing images, as there's no optical viewfinder on this model. The Olympus Tough TG-810 also includes true mechanical image stabilization - an important addition that forms half of the company's "Dual Image Stabilization" system. The other half is what Olympus calls "Digital Image Stabilization", which increases the ISO sensitivity (and along with it, both the shutter speed and image noise levels) to try and freeze motion. ISO sensitivity ranges from a low of ISO 80 to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent.
The Olympus Tough TG-810 employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera's image sensor, and the TG-810 also includes face detection capability, linked to both the autoexposure and autofocus systems, ensuring that your subjects' faces are taken into account when determining both these variables. AF tracking technology continually adjusts focus and exposure to keep fast-moving subjects in focus, and there's even "Pet Mode" AF tracking for animal lovers. As noted previously, the Olympus Tough TG810 includes a built-in GPS receiver, electronic compass, and manometer which can be used to geotag images with information regarding the location and direction from which they were captured, as well as the atmospheric or water pressure. This information is stored in the EXIF header of images, and can be used to arrange images on a map with compatible software.
As well as still image shooting at 0.6 frames per second, the Olympus TG-810 offers 720p high definition movie capture, and includes an HDMI output to view images and movies on your HDTV, although the cable is an optional extra. Thanks to HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) support, you can use your HDTV's remote to control certain playback functions on the camera, via the HDMI interface. A rechargeable LI-50B Lithium Ion battery with charger is included with the Tough TG-810, and has a CIPA rating of 220 shots per charge. Images are stored in a not-so-generous 19.5MB of available internal memory, as well as on Secure Digital memory cards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. Support is also included for Eye-Fi's wireless-capable SD card products. Images and videos can be transferred to a PC over a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, and there's also a standard-def video output function which shares the same jack on the camera body.
The TG-810 includes a variety of what the company terms Magic Filters, which are similar to the in-camera Art Filters first introduced in Olympus digital SLRs in 2009. The latest generation of Magic Filters -- Watercolor, Sparkle, and Punk -- are included, in addition to the Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish-Eye, Soft Focus, and Drawing filters seen in earlier models. A generous 17 scene modes including four underwater modes are offered in the Olympus TG-810, plus a Program Auto mode, allowing users some degree of control over their images without needing to understand the subtleties of shutter speeds and apertures. There's also an Intelligent Auto mode which can automatically select from a subset of scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Night + Portrait, Macro or Sports). A 3D Photo mode captures two images from slightly differing angles, and combines the result into an image suitable for viewing on 3D-capable displays.
The Olympus Tough TG-810 ships in the USA from April 2011, with pricing of about US$400. Available body colors include black and silver.
Olympus TG-810 Brief Review
by Shawn Barnett
We were big fans of the Olympus Tough cameras even before they were called "Tough" cameras. But something happened to the image quality as the line expanded and earned its new name: the image quality tanked. Sadly, that's still true, and a recent look at the TG-810 led us to stop our review before capturing all the shots we'd normally do. There's just no point in going further with a camera we can't at least recommend to someone, and the TG-810's image quality is low enough that we wouldn't recommend it for most purposes. We've expressed our disappointment to Olympus over the Tough cameras, which we think are gorgeous designs with slow operating systems and poor image quality, especially considering their $400 price point.
So below I've compared two crops from the lowest ISO setting between the TG-810 and the Pentax WG-1 GPS. It's important to note that we also didn't much care for the WG-1's image quality, but even more important to show how much worse the TG-810 is by comparison, particularly in the red channel.
Currently there are few new cameras in this space, so it's a shame that we can't say better things about the TG-810. We'd really like to. But the images speak for themselves. Other options include the Canon D10, which is still around despite its introduction in 2009; the Panasonic TS3 is also out there for $350, but since we haven't tested it as of this writing, we can't vouch for its image quality.