Olympus TG-850 Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Olympus Tough TG-850
Resolution: 16.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3"
Lens: 5.00x zoom
(21-105mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 125-6400
Shutter: 4-1/2000
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.1 in.
(110 x 64 x 28 mm)
Weight: 7.7 oz (218 g)
MSRP: $250
Availability: 03/2014
Manufacturer: Olympus
Full specs: Olympus TG-850 specifications
16.00
Megapixels
5.00x zoom
1/2.3"
size sensor
image of Olympus Tough TG-850
Front side of Olympus Tough TG-850 digital camera Back side of Olympus Tough TG-850 digital camera Top side of Olympus Tough TG-850 digital camera Left side of Olympus Tough TG-850 digital camera Right side of Olympus Tough TG-850 digital camera

Olympus TG-850 -- First Impressions

by
Preview posted

Rugged cameras aren't just great for outdoors types -- they can make a lot of sense for the rest of us, too. Whether you just want to feel safe throwing your camera in a bag, or to let the kids use it without fear of it being broken, rugged cameras take life's knocks and keep on working when lesser cameras (and camera phones) would have failed. But rugged usually means feature-limited. Not so, the 16-megapixel Olympus TG-850, a camera which sports features never before seen on a rugged model.

A successor to last year's TG830, the Olympus TG850 is the first rugged, waterproof camera to feature an articulated LCD screen. It's important to note, though, that it's only considered to be rugged when the monitor is closed against the camera body -- but that's not surprising really. Close the 3-inch, 460,000-dot screen and it should be very durable, according to Olympus' ratings. And we believe them -- it really does feel very solid, despite the articulated screen.

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Just how rugged is it? The Olympus TG-850 is said to be waterproof down to 33 feet (10m), shockproof enough to resist a drop from seven feet (2.1m), crushproof up to 220 pounds (100kgf), freezeproof down to 14° F (-10°C), ¬†and dustproof. So in other words, if you can take the abuse dished out by the elements, your camera probably can, too!

And the folding screen definitely makes the TG-850 more versatile. Not only is it handy when shooting from the hip -- it also flips up a full 180 degrees for self-portraits. Of course, shooting a selfie at arm's length can makes it tough to fit everything into the shot, so you need a wide lens, and the TG-850 has one. Really wide, in fact. With a 21mm-equivalent wide angle, it's the widest lens offered by any rugged camera, according to Olympus. Like that in the TG-830, it's still a 5x zoom, though.

Hence, the great wide-angle comes at the expense of some telephoto possibilities: the TG850's lens now has just a modest 105mm-equivalent telephoto. Maximum aperture is also rather dim, varying across the zoom range from f/3.5 to f/5.7. On the plus side, the Olympus TG-850 does feature a lens-shift stabilization system to help fight blur from camera shake.

Behind the lens sits a 1/2.3-inch type, 16-megapixel, backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor paired to a TruePic VII-branded image processor. Together, the pairing allows sensitivities from ISO 125 to 6400 equivalents. Olympus also includes an Auto ISO function, and a High mode of unstated sensitivity. Full-resolution burst shooting is possible at a fast 7.1 frames per second, but with a buffer depth of only six images. For a much bigger buffer, you can reduce the capture rate to just 2.5 fps, and gain a burst depth of 200 images. There are also two much faster 20 and 60 fps rates, both with buffer depths of 60 images, but a reduced resolution of three megapixels.

Exposure modes on offer in the Olympus TG-850 include Intelligent Auto, Program Auto, Super Macro, Scene, Art Filter, Panorama, Hand-Held Starlight, and e-Portrait. Scene modes include Portrait, Landscape, Interval Shooting, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach & Snow, Under Water Snapshot, Under Water Wide1, Under Water Wide2, Under Water Macro, and Backlight HDR. The Interval Shooting mode is relatively less common on a fixed-lens camera, and allows you to shoot anywhere from 1 to 99 frames with a 0-60 minute start delay, and an interval time between shots of 10 seconds to 60 minutes.

Art filter types include Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Dramatic Tone, Fish Eye, Sparkle, Reflection, and Fragmented. As well as standard panoramas, the TG-850 can also shoot 360-degree panos.

The Olympus TG-850 includes a built-in flash, just adjacent to the lens on the front of the camera. Flash modes include Auto, Red Eye Reduction, Fill-in, Off, and LED. Shutter speeds on offer range from 1/2 to 1/2,000 second, or a maximum of four seconds in the Night Scene mode.

As well as still images, the Olympus TG-850 can also shoot high definition videos at a resolution of up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (aka Full HD) with a rate of 60 frames per second. Here, too, you can trade off resolution to get greater speed -- either standard-def VGA (640 x 480 pixels) at a rate of 120 fps, or QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) at a whopping 240 fps. Movies are saved in a .MOV container with H.264 compression.

There's no in-camera Wi-Fi connectivity, but the Olympus TG-850 does support wireless transfer to a smart device running the company's Olympus Image Share smartphone app, using an optional Toshiba FlashAir SDHC card. Wired connectivity on offer includes USB 2.0 High Speed data, and Type-D Micro HDMI for high-def video output. Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types, or on 37MB of built-in memory. Power comes from a proprietary LI-50B lithium-ion battery pack rated as good for 300 shots on a charge.

Priced at US$250, the Olympus TG-850 ships in silver, black, or white-bodied versions from March 2014.

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