Olympus Tough-8010 Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Olympus Stylus Tough-8010
Resolution: 14.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3"
Lens: 5.00x zoom
(28-140mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 64-1600
Shutter: 4-1/2000
Max Aperture: 3.9
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.5 x 0.9 in.
(98 x 64 x 24 mm)
Weight: 7.5 oz (214 g)
MSRP: $400
Availability: 02/2010
Manufacturer: Olympus
14.00
Megapixels
5.00x zoom
1/2.3"
size sensor
image of Olympus Stylus Tough-8010
Front side of Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 digital camera Back side of Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 digital camera Top side of Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 digital camera Left side of Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 digital camera Right side of Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 digital camera

Imaging Resource rating: 3.5 out of 5.0

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010
Overview

by Greg Scoblete and Stephanie Boozer
Review Date: 10/26/2010

The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 is the latest in Olympus's Tough series of take-a-licking, keep-on-ticking digital cameras. Featuring a shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof, crushproof body--we're starting to wonder just how many more things Olympus can find to proof their cameras against--the Olympus 8010 is designed to take whatever the elements can throw at it--or perhaps, whatever you might accidentally throw it at! Able to survive a drop from 5 feet, 220 pounds of crushing pressure, to capture photos at up to 33 feet underwater, 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. Inside this impressive exterior are the combination of a 1/2.33"-type fourteen megapixel image sensor and an Olympus-branded 5x optical zoom lens with a useful 28mm wide-angle. A 2.7-inch HyperCrystal-III LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution offers the Olympus Tough-8010's only option for framing and reviewing images, as there's no optical viewfinder on this model. Like its predecessor the Tough-6000, the new  Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 includes true mechanical image stabilization--an important feature 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 64 to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent.

Perhaps the Olympus Stylus 8010's most unusual feature is what Olympus has dubbed "Tap Control." A 3D accelerometer in the Olympus 8010's body is used as an input method, allowing different patterns of taps on the camera's body from different directions to control functions on the camera. For example, a double tap on the camera's side can be used to turn on the camera's flash or Shadow Adjustment function. It's an unusual idea, and one that perhaps makes some sense if you consider that the camera can be used in conditions where taking your hands out of thick gloves might not be the best idea. The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera's image sensor, and the Stylus 8010 also includes face detection capability, able to detect up to twelve faces in a scene simultaneously. Olympus's Face Detection function is linked to both the autoexposure and autofocus systems, ensuring that your subject's faces are taken into account when determining both these variables. It also allows for tracking of a subject's face as it moves around the frame, once detected.

A generous nineteen Scene modes including several underwater modes are offered in the Olympus 8010, 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. In-camera image editing is possible, with the Olympus Tough-8010 able to resize images, as well as correct for red-eye and exposure problems, adjust saturation, and even smooth a subject's complexion or call attention to their eyes. An in-camera panorama mode is started with a press of the shutter button followed by panning the camera slowly across the scene. The Stylus Tough-8010 then cleverly captures two more photos by itself at the correct moment, and combines the three images together in-camera to offer a single stitched scene automatically. For creation of larger panoramas up to ten images, the included software can be used on a computer.

As well as still image capture, the Stylus Tough-8010 can record high-definition movies at 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) resolution. For viewing images and movies on a high-definition television, the Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 has HDMI video output connectivity (requiring an optionally available cable), and supports the Consumer Electronics Control standard for remotely controlling playback using your TV's remote control, while images can be transferred to a PC over a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection. A rechargeable LI-50B lithium-ion battery with charger is included with the Stylus Tough-8010, along with Olympus's [ib] software for viewing and modifying photos. Usefully, the battery can be recharged in-camera using a standard USB cable. Images are stored in an extremely generous 1,588MB of internal memory, as well as on Secure Digital memory cards including SDHC types.

The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 began shipping in the USA from February 2010 with pricing of about US$400.

 

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010
User Report

by Greg Scoblete

The Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 is the top-of-the-line model in the company's Stylus Tough series of waterproof digital cameras. It can descend to a depth of 33 feet underwater, handle a fall of 6.6 feet, endure cold temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and can withstand up to 220 pounds of pressure, making it crush-proof. It's the kind of camera that will continue operating long after you've passed out from exertion.

The Olympus 8010's armored exterior defends a 14-megapixel image sensor, a 5x optical zoom lens, and a 2.7-inch LCD monitor. It retails for $399.

Look and feel. The Olympus 8010 is a bruiser, and not afraid to show it. If there's a word that captures the aesthetics it would be "industrial." Small rivets mark the front of the 8010's metal exterior and a stoutly anchored strap clasp remind you that this is not a digicam for the faint of heart. It's available in all silver or a model with a black faceplate and silver trim. The all silver version's faceplate is reflective so it useful for self-portraits (though that's an incidental feature, not, I suspect, an intended one).

For a compact camera of its size (3.9 x 2.5 x 0.94-inches) the Olympus 8010 is not light, weighing in at 7.5 ounces (214g) with battery and memory card. There's nothing unusual about the heft, considering the reinforcements required to protect it from drops, but it's something to be aware of. There's not much in the way of ergonomic parking spaces for your fingers as you grip the Olympus 8010--perhaps a necessary accommodation to those using the camera with gloves on. It's not uncomfortable to hold for extended periods, but your fingers will bump up against the rivets from time to time.

Controls. Atop the Olympus 8010 are a pair of buttons--a nice large shutter and a considerably smaller power button. The camera curves gently around the shutter button, leading your finger to believe that there may be a zoom lever there, but there isn't. It's likely the consequence of having played around with one too many cameras, but I frequently found myself looping my finger onto the curve expecting to find the zoom. But that's a quibble. As for the Power button, it is not only small, it's flush with the surface and often needs a determined push to turn on. Though it was 102 degrees, your intrepid reviewer dug out his ski gloves to see how the camera would spring to life on the slope. The verdict: Not nearly as easily as it should. You can program the more tactile Playback button on the back of the camera to double as a power button (though it powers up in Playback mode) in the event you become frustrated with the tiny Power button up top.

Fortunately, the rest of the Olympus 8010's buttons are raised, and, while on the smallish side, respond quickly to your press.

The remainder of the Olympus 8010's controls cluster to the right of the camera's 2.7-inch LCD display. At the top is a pair of buttons to control the zoom followed below by a red shutter button for movie recording. This dedicated shutter is the only way to record movies, so you won't have to scroll through scene modes to get there. It's a nice quick fix for those intent on taking a lot of video. Based on the proximity of the controls, it looks as if your thumb would constantly activate movie recording as you try to operate the zoom, but it's actually not in the way.

Continuing our journey down the side of the Olympus 8010 finds a Playback button and a four way controller with a round "OK" button wedged in the center. During shooting, the upward control adjusts what camera information will be displayed on the LCD, while the down control brings you into a basic settings menu that appears as a vertical column down the right hand side of the display. The left and right controls will also bring you into the basic settings menu, which seems a bit redundant. If you hit the up ("info") control when the camera is powered off, it will (after three seconds) briefly display the date and time, which is pretty useful, provided you've set it correctly.

Beneath the four-way controller is a menu button which, like the downward and sideways controls on the four-way controller, brings you into the on-screen menu. So that makes a total of four external controls dedicated to entering the on-screen menu. I have to think there was a much better way to employ those buttons, but in the event your brain is water-logged from all the deep sea diving you'll do with the Olympus 8010, you at least have a very good chance of hitting the right button if it's the menu you're searching for!

There's also button for entering into the camera's on-screen user's manual (it's denoted with a question mark). The in-camera manual lets you search for explanations for various camera functions. You can also opt to "learn about the camera" where you'll have a choice of reviewing explanations for featured functions like shooting with magic filters. The in-camera manual also offers an assortment of basic how-tos and tips for using the camera. The nice thing about this system is that for many of the camera's functions, the in-camera manual will allow you to jump directly into the mode you've just learned about. In other cases, it will provide a more detailed description of how to use a certain mode and a link to related features, if any exist. It's definitely useful, I think, to have this kind of in-camera tutorial at the ready and given the space and navigation constraints in trying to put something as complex as a user's manual inside a digital camera, I think Olympus did a very nice job with the user interface. (The company also touts the in-camera manual as an eco-friendly feature, because it saves them from printing a paper manual or creating a CD-ROM.) That said, does it really need its own dedicated button on the back of the camera? I'd think not--it's valuable real estate and for my money, a customizable control would have worked better (or hey, go for another menu button).

Tap Control: An internal 3D accelerometer powers the Olympus 8010's unique "tap control" interface, which activates certain camera functions just by tapping portions of the camera (it's turned on or off in the menu and you can still use the buttons if you so desire). You can calibrate how responsive the tap is in the menu between soft, average and hard--tap twice on the top and you go into Playback mode (or back out to Record mode), you then tap the side to scroll through images in Playback, tap the right side and you enter into the Mode menu where you can then tap the top of the camera to scroll down through the Menu functions. Set on average strength and you've got to deliver a decisive blow or else the camera won't respond. Better to calibrate it to "soft"--it's more responsive (the downside is you may inadvertently activate a control, although I didn't). I found it difficult to remember which tap did what and grew frustrated if the camera didn't respond right away. Since you can't use tap control to turn the camera on, it's less useful for those wearing gloves who don't want to leave the camera on full time and run down an already skimpy battery (more on that later). If you can't take off your gloves and absolutely must switch modes, it's worthwhile, but otherwise it's more of a novelty, not a must-have feature.

Lens. The Olympus 8010 packs a non-protruding 5x optical zoom lens into the upper right corner of the camera body. It's protected with an automatic lens cap and is enclosed behind a water-resistant shell. Given the location of the lens, you have to be somewhat mindful that your finger doesn't stray in front of it when holding the camera with two hands.

With a 28-140mm equivalent focal range, you get a little bump in the wide-angle department, which is always nice. Its aperture range is f/3.5-5.1 though you won't have the option to set the aperture yourself.

Super Macro lets you get as close as 1.2 inches.

There are three Macro modes: Normal Macro provides focusing on objects as close as 7.9 inches while a Super Macro mode gets you as close as 1.2 inches. There's also an Underwater Macro mode, which provides the same focusing distance as the normal Macro but optimizes exposure for underwater photos. Underwater Macro is grouped with the camera's Scene modes, not with the other macro modes. You also have the option to activate a tiny LED light when shooting in Super Macro, which conveniently turns on and off as you press the shutter.

There are three focusing modes as well: iESP Auto/face detection, Spot AF, and AF tracking. The last allows you to lock in on a subject and keep it in focus as it moves about the frame. It's easy to establish--you set it in the menu and a small square icon frames the focus object, which you then "lock on" using the OK button at the center of the four-way controller. After that, it's off to the races--only not quite. If the subject darts out of the frame only to return a second later, you'll have to re-establish the lock. Still, if you can keep your subject in the frame, the tracking icon does dutifully keep pace with it as it moves.

Modes. There is no mode dial on the Olympus 8010 so you'll have to make do with the on-screen menu to set the mode you desire. The camera has a total of 29 shooting modes, including an "intelligent Auto" (iAuto) that selects from five scene modes to best match your shooting environment (Portrait, Night + Portrait, Landscape, Macro and Sports). Automatic macro is always useful to have and I found the iAuto did a good job switching from landscape to sports as the environment changed.

iAuto mode handled the color balance a little better than the 8010's Underwater mode.

The iAuto mode cannot tell when you're underwater though, so instead you'll have to manually select your underwater mode of choice if you wish to shoot with one. There are four--a snapshot mode, and two underwater wide settings and the aforementioned Underwater macro. I was happier with the results from iAuto under water than with the dedicated Underwater Scene mode, which looked like it boosted the blues. The iAuto and program auto modes can look a little washed out underwater, but provide a little more natural look than the deeply saturated underwater snapshot mode.



Beauty mode softens skin and takes the resolution down to 8 megapixels.

For portrait shots, the Beauty mode will soften up skin tones a bit, though it brings the resolution down to 8 megapixels (still plenty for most printing needs). The effect is certainly noticeable and depending on your subject's vanity (or lack thereof) could be quite useful.

Magic Filter: The Olympus 8010 offers four of the not-so-humbly named Magic Filters that debuted on the E-series digital SLRs last year (where they are called Art Filters) and have slowly trickled down into the rest of the company's cameras. They include Pop art, which ramps up the saturation to levels not seen since the Warhol days; Pin hole, which reprises the time-honored photographic effect, Drawing, which transforms your image into pencil-style sketch, and Fisheye. I love these filters and wish there were more of them. They're a simple and fun way to get some evocative photos. If you're truly ambitious, you can create your own custom coloring book by printing 8x10s of the photos taken in "drawing" mode.

Better still, the Olympus 8010 will provide a preview window on the LCD display, showing you what the effect will look like before you enable it. The preview slows down how quickly you can scroll through the effects, but only a little.

Panorama: You'll have three panorama options on the Olympus 8010. In Auto, you snap your first image and then shift your camera in the direction that you want to pan. The 8010 will then generate a tiny circular target on the screen with a second cross-hairs that you move into position over the target. Once the two are aligned, the 8010 will automatically snap a photo. One more alignment, and the 8010 will stitch the panorama. The method proved accurate enough.

The second panorama choice is manual (above), which provides you with a clear preview panel down the left third of the display, so you can align your subsequent two photos. It's tougher to use than auto and in my case at least, less accurate. The final option is PC, which allows you to snap up to ten photos which you can stitch together on your computer using the supplied software (which is loaded onto the 8010's internal memory, not provided in a separate disk). Like manual, you'll have to align these ten images using a faint overlay on the LCD, which can lead to some misalignments along the length of the panorama. Still, if you get it right, the results can be impressive, though not without imperfections.

Shadow Adjust: The camera also applies what Olympus dubs its "shadow adjustment" technology for bringing out details in subjects obscured by shadows or overcoming otherwise challenging backlit shots. You can leave shadow adjustment on auto and let the Olympus 8010 decide for itself when to use it, or set it to on or off. In backlit situations, I couldn't discern much of a difference between the images taken with shadow adjustment on and shots taken with it off. In an environment where there was both backlighting and shadows, the technology did deliver an improved image.

Underwater video is somewhat blocky.

HD Video: The Olympus 8010 can record 1280 x 720 video at 30 frames per second (30fps) in the MPEG-4 format with video clips capped at 30 minutes. Audio is recorded via a mono microphone. Don't cashier your camcorder: The HD footage on the 8010 won't take your breath away. The colors are muted and blocky and even in bright light I noticed some pixilation. The one redeeming aspect of the camera's video mode (other than the dedicated shutter) is that you can use the zoom lens while filming. There's an HDMI output as well, but no cable is included.

You also have the option of 640 x 480/30fps and 320 x 240/30fps recording if you want, though I'm not sure why you would.

Menu. The menu system on the Olympus 8010 is straightforward enough. Your menu options are aligned on the right hand side of the display in a vertical column. Your first option at the top is to choose your shooting mode--between program, iAuto, Scene, Beauty, Magic Filter, and Panorama. Immediately below that will be your various choices for each selection--so if you choose scene, below will be a list of Scene modes. You can only see three modes at a time and to get the one you want you'll have to use the four way controller to scroll through them all. Seeing as there are 19 of them, it's not exactly a streamlined way to get the Scene mode you want.

Set the camera to iAuto and the menu simplifies, displaying only flash, self-timer and an icon which brings you into the rest of the menu. Shoot in program, and you'll have access to flash, self-timer, macro settings, exposure, white balance and drive mode.

If you enter into settings you'll have seven tabs: two for shooting controls; one for Movie settings, one for Playback; and three for basic camera settings such as date/time and power-saving options. At any time during your journey through the menu you can press the Shutter button and bounce instantly back into photo-taking mode--a nice convenience. The menu is bright and the text is easily readable.

The menu has an option for an icon guide, which will provide a brief written description next to each camera function as you navigate through the menu. Newcomers to the Olympus 8010 should find the help welcome.

Storage and battery. With 2GB of internal memory (though only 1.6GB is apportioned for photo storage) the Olympus 8010 has much more out-of-the-box memory than most digicams. You may still want to spring for an SDHC card if you're a prolific shooter or plan on taking plenty of HD movies. The internal memory can hold about 400 14-megapixel images or roughly 30 minutes of HD footage. While it's very nice to have such a generous assortment of internal storage, the 8010 doesn't take full advantage of it: when you run out of space on your memory card, you'll have to manually switch memory formats, the camera won't seamlessly make the switch for you. In the menu it promises an "auto" function for memory, but that simply means it will automatically switch to memory card storage when one is inserted into the camera.

You also have the option to transfer files stored on internal memory to an SD card, either as a batch or individually.

The Olympus 8010's lithium-ion battery (LI-50B) is rated by CIPA to have a life of 200 photos, which is pretty skimpy, especially considering that the camera is likely to be a crucial vacation companion. If you envision a long day of shooting with the 8010, a spare battery might not be a bad idea. Another mark against the camera in the power department is that the battery is charged in the camera. If you're reluctant to spring for spare battery (and who could blame you) or an accessory battery charger (the $44.99 LI-50C) you'll have to take both camera and battery offline to power up. On the other hand, if you transfer images to your computer via USB, the camera does support USB charging, so you can refresh the battery that way.

Both battery and memory card are locked securely away in a deep compartment sealed with two locking mechanisms and a thick, sturdy swinging hinged door. Besides the battery and card slot are mini USB and HDMI outputs, so there's only a single compartment on the camera. One lock secures the compartment door in place, the second locks the first one in place so you can't accidentally snap open the first one and expose the battery to water. Such security is what you'd expect to find in a camera designed to take the kind of pounding the Olympus 8010 can endure, but you'll have to remember to secure both locks before embarking on any adventure.

Shooting. When you read through the marketing materials on the Olympus 8010, it sounds as if the camera is geared toward manic X-Gamers not paunchy tech-reviewer types like yours truly. But the truth is, durable cameras are valuable even if your definition of roughing it consists of a lazy afternoon at the town pool (humor me, okay?). So this suburban adventurer braved the very lazy rapids to dunk the Olympus 8010 into the chlorine-soaked deep. The camera drew onlookers like a moth to a flame, proof that there's plenty of marketing headroom left for manufacturers to push the waterproof concept.




Magic filters. From the top, the Magic filters are Fisheye, Pinhole, and Pop Art.

One thing you'll notice while shooting with the 8010 is that while it boasts of its sporty appeal, it's not the fastest shooter on the block. I was frequently off a half-second catching divers or dunkers. There's a high-speed burst mode but it knocks the resolution down to 3-megapixels.

The Olympus 8010's display is decently sized at 2.7 inches, but I found it somewhat dim. This could be a consequence of how it's encased in the camera (it is, after all, designed to withstand 220 pounds of pressure and sharp falls) but it nevertheless made viewing in bright sun a bit difficult. You can set the LCD brightness in the menu at four different levels, but even the maximum level of brightness doesn't really provide the kind of detail needed in bright sun. A consequence of this was that I frequently missed the presence of beaded water drops on the lens. This is by no means a problem unique to the 8010, but it was harder to discern the drops when looking through the display. After the initial discovery, I made sure to give the lens a quick wipe-down after I emerged from the water (and the drops wipe away quickly without marring the subsequent photos). Let's say one good word for the display though, the viewing angle and outdoor performance is quite impressive.

Overall, I found the Olympus 8010 would take somewhat over-exposed snapshots, with the sky or well lit areas verging on blown out, if I quickly pressed the shutter. Do a half-press and the camera has a better chance of delivering a more even exposure. The perfect shot preview screen is of somewhat limited utility for settings such as exposure, in part because it's difficult to see the subtleties on the camera's LCD, but it's quite useful for white balance.

Playback: The Olympus 8010 can playback your photos and videos in a slideshow with a choice of five pre-loaded musical accompaniments. You can apply a "beauty fix" to images by clearing the skin, sparkling the eye or making a "dramatic eye" which certainly doesn't live up to the name (it appears to lighten the cornea and darken the pupil). There's also a fairly extensive choice of in-camera edits, including cropping, color edits (which you can usefully preview in the camera before applying). Finally, you can apply shadow adjustment to an image after-the-fact or remove red-eye.

Overall, it was great to have a waterproof camera to use in the pool, but image quality could have been better, and I wish the Olympus 8010 were a lot faster. See below for our image quality analysis and speed, as well as printed results.

 

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Lens Quality


Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Slightly soft at upper left
Tele: Fairly sharp at center
Tele: Slightly soft at upper left

Sharpness: The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010's zoom shows only mild blurring in the corners of the frame compared to what we see at center, at both zoom settings. Though softening does extend somewhat far into the main image area, the overall effect isn't that strong.


Wide: Slight barrel distortion; hardly noticeable
Tele: A small amount of pincushion distortion, slightly noticeable

Geometric Distortion: There is only a small amount of barrel distortion at wide-angle (0.4%), and minor pincushion distortion (0.2%) at telephoto. Though distortion at both zoom settings will be more obvious in shots like this with strong horizontal lines, overall results are still pretty good here.


Wide: Low
Tele: Also low

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is low, with only a trace of blue-red visible around the target lines. At telephoto, virtually no distortion is visible, save a suggestion of a reddish tint on some edges.


Macro
Macro with Flash
Super Macro
Super Macro with LED

Macro: The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010's normal Macro mode captures a sharp image with strong detail, with only minor blurring in the corners of the frame. Minimum coverage area is larger than average, though, at 4.17 x 3.12 inches (106 x 79mm), and color balance quite warm. The camera's flash produced an uneven exposure here, with some reflection off of the brooch. The Tough-8010's Super Macro mode captures a much smaller area, at 1.31 x 0.98 inches (33 x 25mm), but blurring is much stronger in the corners and extends far into the frame. With the LED enabled, the exposure is again uneven, so external lighting will be your best bet in either Macro mode.


 

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Viewfinder Accuracy


Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010's LCD monitor showed about 100% coverage accuracy at wide-angle, and about 101% at telephoto, both quite good.


 

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Image Quality


Color: The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 handles color saturation quite well, keeping most colors nearly spot-on. Bright reds, and some oranges, greens and blues are pushed a little, and bright yellows are a tiny bit muted, but overall results are very good. In terms of hue accuracy, the Tough-8010 again performs well, with only slight shifts in greens, and a more noticeable shift of red toward orange. Dark skintones are skewed quite a bit toward a warmer cast, though lighter skin tones are just about right. Despite the flaws mentioned, the Tough-8010 performs much better than average here.


Auto WB:
Quite warm
Incandescent WB:
Good, a hint warm
Incandescent: The Tough-8010's Incandescent white balance handled our tungsten lighting much better than the Auto mode, despite a slight warm cast. (Auto is much too warm and orange-ish.) The Olympus Tough-8010 doesn't support Manual white balance. The camera also required an ISO boost to 200 for reasonably bright results, as EV compensation had no strong effect on brightness in this shot.

Horizontal: 1,700 lines
Vertical: 1,700 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,700 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction of the pattern occurred just a little past 2,000 lines per picture height.


Wide: Very dim, ISO 800
Tele: Dim, ISO 800
Auto Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing showed the flash to be weak for the distances stipulated by the company. At 9.5 feet and wide-angle, the exposure of the flash target is very dim, with a decidedly blue cast. At Telephoto and 13.1 feet, the exposure is also dim.

Auto flash produced very dim results in our indoor portrait scene, with a shutter speed of 1/60 second at ISO 200. Though you won't have to worry about camera movement at this speed, the resulting exposure is too dark. Consider raising ISO or increasing EV or flash compensation.


80
100
200
400
800
1,600

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is already a bit soft as early as ISO 80, with increasing softness up the ISO ladder. Noise suppression is the real trouble here, though relative detail is still fairly distinct. By ISO 800, details take on a pointillist look. See Printed results below for more on how this affects prints.


Printed: ISO 80 Printed results are a bit too soft for printing at 13x19, but look good at 11x14 with good color and detail.

ISO 100 shots look pretty much the same as ISO 80 shots, making a good 11x14-inch print.

ISO 200 images are a little softer, but still look good printed at 11x14 inches. Detail is good in most places, but significantly softer in the low-contrast reds.

ISO 400 files print just fine at 8x10 with good detail, with the exception of some reds, which remains true from here on up the ISO scale.

ISO 800 files have an overall softness or misty appearance, but make decent 5x7-inch prints with good color.

ISO 1,600 shots are slightly soft, but hold onto color and tone well, making a good 4x6-inch print.

Overall, the Olympus Stylus Tough-8010's printed quality is good, though it's a step down from last year's Tough-8000, whose 12-megapixel sensor allowed output of "nice and sharp" 13x19-inch prints.



 

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Performance


Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is sluggish, at 0.81 second at wide angle and 1.12 second at full telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.209 second, also slower.


Cycle Time: Cycle time is also a drag, capturing a frame every 4.74 seconds in single-shot mode. Olympus rates the Tough-8010's full-resolution continuous mode at only 0.3 frames per second, which is also very slow. The Stylus Tough-8010's "high speed" mode is rated at 1.2 frames per second at a greatly reduced resolution of 3 megapixels.


Flash Recycle: The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010's flash recycles in about 5.8 seconds after a full-power discharge, which is about average.


Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was only able to focus down to just above the one foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, and the LED assist lamp does not illuminate except in Macro mode, as long as the self-timer isn't used.


USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Olympus Stylus Tough-8010's download speeds are moderately fast. We measured 4,739 KBytes/sec.


 

In the Box

The retail package contains the following items:

  • Olympus Stylus Tough 8010
  • Battery pack
  • Battery charger
  • AV cable
  • USB cable
  • Wrist strap
  • Quick Start Guide

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack for extended outings
  • Large capacity SD/SDHC memory card. These days, 4GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, 8GB should be a minimum.
  • Medium camera case

 

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • A wide-angle, non-protruding lens
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • Durable construction
  • Deep underwater capability--33 feet
  • Shockproof to a drop from 5 feet
  • Freezeproof to 14F or -10C
  • Crushproof to 220 pounds of pressure
  • In-camera manual
  • Icon guide to explain camera functions
  • Dedicated movie shutter for easier recording
  • Lots of internal memory for photo/videos (1.6GB)
  • Use of zoom during movie recording
  • HDMI output
  • Numerous scene modes
  • LED light for macro focusing
  • Perfect shot preview for seeing effects before shooting
  • Magic Filters for applying interesting photo effects
  • Good printed output across the range of ISOs
  • Sluggish performance
  • Redundant controls
  • Power button small, not always responsive
  • Poor battery life
  • Weak flash
  • AF struggles in low light
  • Few manual controls
  • LCD somewhat dim in bright sunlight
  • No relay recording between internal memory and SDHC card
  • HD movie quality is marginal

 

Even if it's not as fast as a speeding bullet, the Olympus 8010 is still a superman in terms of the beating it can take. Diving deeper than other waterproof digicams, the 8010 is among the toughest cameras on the market. While it's ostensibly geared toward the rugged outdoorsman and woman, the clumsy would also benefit from its shock proof design, and parents with clawing children would appreciate its ability to withstand the elements. Looking past its toughness, the Olympus 8010 does manage to deliver a good photo experience for the casual snapshooter if they're willing to have patience with its sluggish performance.

The Olympus 8010 offers a nice selection of Scene modes and creative "Magic Filters" for simple yet evocative photography. With an icon guide and in-camera user's manual onboard, the Olympus 8010 makes itself very approachable to photographers of all skill levels, though it lacks the control over shutter and aperture that more enthusiast photographers might hunger for. A nice wide-angle lens is complemented by several panorama modes, including the option of stitching together up to 10 photos using the included software. The external controls could use more attention (a customizable button please; less redundancy would be nice) and tap control is a bit over-rated. A more robust battery wouldn't hurt either.

Ultimately, it's hard to find a more rugged camera, but the Olympus Tough-8010 really needs a speed improvement. Most people needing a rugged camera would also like a fast one for capturing their lives in action. Last year's Stylus Tough-8000 was a better camera in terms of speed and image quality, but if you need a tough camera, the Stylus 8010 is one of the toughest.

 

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