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Olympus TG-820

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Olympus TG-820 iHS Overview

Posted: 02/08/2012

Are you the kind of person who likes a physical challenge, whether it's mastering a new ski slope, improving your time on a mountain bike trail, or simply throwing yourself out of a perfectly good airplane? Or maybe you're just somebody who knows accidents happen, and likes to couple your belt with a fashionable pair of suspenders...

Either way, Olympus has a camera for you: the rugged, lifeproof TG-820 iHS. With a tank-like body that can resist 33 feet of water pressure, drops from 6.6 feet, and a 220 pound crushing weight, not to mention the hardships of dusty or sub-freezing 14°F / 10°C environments, the TG-820 is a camera that isn't likely to give up the ghost before you do.

Inside its rugged, compact body sit the pairing of a twelve megapixel image sensor, and a 5x optical zoom lens. The Olympus TG-820's sensor is a backside-illuminated CMOS type. Translated, that means "It'll collect more light, and it won't keep you waiting while it does so." BSI sensors devote more of their surface to light gathering, and CMOS types are typically rather faster than their CCD brethren. In the case of the TG-820, the ISO sensitivity range spans everything from 100 to 6,400 equivalents, and full-resolution burst shooting is possible at five frames per second.

The lens, meanwhile, offers up everything from a useful 28mm wide angle to a moderate 140mm telephoto. The maximum aperture's a little dim, though, at f/3.9 to f/5.9 across the zoom range, perhaps robbing the camera of some of the light-gathering advantage gifted by its sensor. Dual image stabilization is included, meaning that the TG-820 doesn't rely solely on software techniques to fight blur. Instead, it's image sensor is mounted on a movable platter, allowing for true mechanical image stabilization, helping you get sharper pictures in low-light conditions.

On the rear panel of the Olympus TG-820 iHS is a 3.0-inch LCD display, with an unusually high 1,030,000 dot resolution. There is, of course, no optical or electronic viewfinder.

As well as twelve megapixel stills, the TG-820 can capture Full HD video--that's 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, aka 1080p.

Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types. Power comes from a proprietary LI-50B lithium ion rechargeable battery pack. Connectivity options include USB data, HDMI Type-D high-def and composite standard-def video outputs, and a DC power input.

Available in silver, black, and blue, the Olympus TG-820 ships from March 2012, priced at around US$300.