Along with the Panasonic FT3, the Olympus TG-810 is one of the toughest cameras we’ve tested here at Stuff – the Grant Mitchell to the Panasonic’s Phil, if you will. Decked in a suit of thick metal armour and protected by weatherproof seals on every join and seam, it can withstand an astounding amount of punishment: a 2m drop; 100kg of pressure; 10m of water; and temperatures of up to -10 degrees C.
But a compact needs to rock more than a hard case to be worth £270, and to that end Olympus has stuffed the TG-810 full of features. There’s an LED illuminator for underwater and macro shooting, Eye-Fi wireless SD card support and a beautifully sharp 3in screen.
Possibly the highlight is a “suite” of location-based sensors. There’s not only GPS for tagging shots with your location, but a compass to show which direction you were facing when you took them. It’ll also embed details of local landmarks in the EXIF data of snaps. Handy stuff, but Olympus hasn’t quite pushed things to the level of the Panasonic FT3, which has all that plus a barometer and altimeter.
It loves your gloves
It does beat the FT3 in several ways (it’s cheaper and its zoom lens offers a wee bit more reach), but largely the two are fairly similar when it comes to toughness and all-round performance. The Olympus, as with previous cameras in the company’s Tough range, also features “tap controls” which make it a little easier to take snaps when you’re wearing gloves or in an awkward situation, which is another slim advantage over the FT3.
Photo quality is excellent in good light, with punchy colours and razor-sharp detail, although the 720p HD video doesn’t impress: we found it jerky when played back. Sub-aqua stills look good too, with the LED lamp coming in handy when you want to play lack Jacques Cousteau and do a spot of underwater filming.
Overall the TG-810 is a solid camera, and in more ways than one. It’s not quite as impressive as the Panasonic FT3, but comes very close to being its match – and is just as tough when it comes to the crunch.