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Olympus Tough TG-820 Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell goes shooting with the Olympus Tough TG-820.

| Olympus Tough TG-820 in Compact Cameras

Olympus Tough TG-820 Digital Camera Review: Olympus Tough Tg-820 Outdoors 1

Olympus announced the Tough TG-820, a replacement for the TG-810, in February 2012. Other additions to the range are the TG-620 and TG-320. The TG-820 is available in red, blue, black and silver for £252.00.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Digital Camera Review: Olympus Tough Tg-820 Front Angled

Olympus Tough TG-820 Features

The Olympus Tough TG-820 has Olympus' new iHS (Intelligence, High Sensitivity and High Speed) technology aimed to make it possible to take great pictures in lousy conditions. There is a 12 megapixel CMOS sensor and TruePic VI image processor (originally developed for DSLR cameras). Olympus say this will all help improve low-light performance, speed up camera response and enhance scene and subject recognition, ideal for fast-moving subjects, night scenes and other tricky shots.

Of course, the TG-820 isn't called Tough for nothing. It’s crushproof to 100kg, waterproof 10m, shockproof to 2m and freezeproof to -10°C. All this will help protect the camera components, which include the 5x optical zoom lens, a 35mm equivalent of 28 - 140mm.

The TG-820 can also record videos, at full 1080p HD. During recording you can use Magic Filters and optical zoom with stabilisation available to ensure steady videos.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Digital Camera Review: Olympus Tough Tg-820 Top

Key Features

  • Waterproof to 10m
  • Shockproof to 2m
  • Crushproof to 100kg
  • Freezeproof to -10°C
  • 5x wide optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 28-140mm)
  • 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
  • 1080p Full HD Movie and HDMI Control
  • Multi-motion Movie IS
  • iHS Technology
  • 3.0 inch 1,030,000 dot HyperCrystal III LCD screen
  • Dual Image Stabilisation
  • Magic Filter Movie and/or Stills
  • HDR Backlight Adjustment
  • Advanced iAuto and AF Tracking
  • Face Detection and Advanced SAT
  • Super-resolution Zoom
  • 3D Photo Shooting Mode
  • Beauty Make-up Mode
  • Pet Detection Mode
  • In-Camera Panorama
  • Tap Control
  • Manometer
  • LED Illuminator
  • Scene Modes
  • Eye-Fi Card compatibility
  • USB-Battery Charge
  • Metal body
Olympus Tough TG-820 Digital Camera Review: Olympus Tough Tg-820 Rear

Olympus Tough TG-820 Handling

Appearance wise, the TG-820 hasn't changed much from previous models. The zoom rocker is now placed on top of the camera alongside the shutter release. On the rear is a chunky OK button which acts as a D-pad and makes it easy to use the camera even with gloves on. There is also a metal plate around the video record button which helps grip and is also used to attach a strap. The playback button allows viewing of your pictures and videos even when the camera is switched off, the ? button tells you the time and date as well.

If your gloves are so thick you can't possibly press the buttons then it's time to switch on Tap Control. This means you can cycle through the shooting options by tapping the camera left, righ, up and down, with a double tap on the screen for OK. It works really well and you can adjust the sensitivity.

The rear of the camera also host a 3 inch, 1,030,000 dot LCD screen which is scratch-resistant and easy to view. To ensure the insides of the camera don't get wet, the battery, memory card and cable connectors are housed behind one door which requires the pressing of two locks to open.

Olympus haven't provided a CIPA rating for the camera's battery but it was charged before testing and was not needed to be recharged. We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average.

Shutter Response   0.1 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.2 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.4 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   1.0 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   0.3 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   2.3 seconds
Sequential shooting
  4.8 fps
High-speed 1
  15.7 fps
High-speed 2
  75 fps

Sequential shooting records at full-sized 12 megapixel resolution, with high-speed 1 and 2 shooting at 3 megapixels.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Digital Camera Review: Olympus Tough Tg-820 Battery And Memory Card

Olympus Tough TG-820 Performance

The Olympus Tough TG-820 produces images which are really well exposed with very pleasing colour reproduction. Detail is good a both ends of the lens, with some purple fringing in high contrast areas. There are three different modes for close-up shots, macro, super macro and super macro LED. In super macro mode the camera has a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm, allowing detailed close-up shots to be taken. There are examples below using the LED light.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Lens test images

There's no noise at ISO 100, but it does start to appear at ISO 200 and more so at ISO 400. At ISO 800 noise is making the images slightly softer and again at ISO 1600. As you'd expect, noise continues to increase through ISO 3200 and 6400, but a usable image is still produced, particularly if you are resizing for web use, with colour reproduction remaining good throughout the ISO range.

Olympus Tough TG-820 ISO test images

Landscape mode takes pictures with good blues and greens. Portraits have excellent skin tones and are free from red-eye. Sport mode has been used to gain a fast shutter speed to capture the movement of the water. The TG-820 takes a very impressive seamless panoramic picture.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Scene modes

Olympus Tough TG-820 Digital Camera Review: Panoramic | 1/40 sec | f/3.9 | 5.0 mm | ISO 800
Panoramic | 1/40 sec | f/3.9 | 5.0 mm | ISO 800

Example images taken underwater.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Sample Photos

The LED macro mode is a great way to lighten up a close-up scene, here are some examples.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Other sample images

The auto white-balance (AWB) setting takes an image with a orange cast under the incandescent lighting, with the respective preset taking a better picture. Under the fluorescent lighting, the AWB setting has a very slight magenta cast, with the fluorescent preset giving a much stronger magenta cast.

Olympus Tough TG-820 White-balance test images

There are a range of magic filters available to add creativity to both images and videos, although not all of them can be used for video recording.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Digital filters

Video Mode

Below is a video shot at full 1080p HD, the camera also allows the use of optical zoom during recording, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Channel.

Value For Money

The Olympus Tough TG-820 is currently priced at £252.00 and is at the top of the Olympus Tough range which includes the TG-620 and TG-320. If you want the most waterproof and shockproof camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 ticks the box.

Waterproof Shockproof Freezeproof Price
Kodak Easyshare Sport C123 3m - - £50.00
Olympus Tough TG-320 3m 1.5m -10°C £139.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT10 3m 1.5m -10°C £144.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 5m 1.5m -10°C £169.00
Fujifilm FinePix XP50 5m 1.5m -10°C £189.00
Pentax Optio WG-1 / (GPS) 10m 1.5m -10°C £204.00 / (219.00)
Olympus Tough TG-620 5m 1.5m -10°C £214.00
Canon PowerShot D10 10m 1.2m -10°C £214.99
Fujifilm FinePix XP150 GPS 10m 2m -10°C £219.00
Olympus Tough TG-820 10m 2m -10°C £252.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 12m 2m -10°C £259.00
Sony Cyber-shot TX10 5m 1.5m -10°C £269.00
Nikon Coolpix AW100 10m 1.5m -10°C £294.95
Pentax Optio WG-2 / (GPS) 12m 1.5m -10°C £299.00 / (£339.00)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 12m 2m -10°C £329.00
Canon PowerShot D20 10m 1.5m -10°C £349.00
Ricoh G700 5m 2m -10°C £449.00

Olympus Tough TG-820 Verdict

We have been impressed by cameras in the Tough range previously, such as the TG-610 which was featured packed with good image quality. The TG-820 does not disappoint, with the latest top of the range Tough camera building on previous results. There is now full 1080p HD video recording, a higher-resolution screen and an extended ISO range. There is very little to fault and some unique features, such as TAP control and LED macro, really make the Olympus Tough TG-820 stand out as an ideal camera for those who like to take pictures in extreme conditions.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Digital Camera Review:
The Olympus Tough TG-820 is another excellent performer in the Tough range.

Olympus Tough TG-820 Pros

Excellent image quality
Built for extreme conditions
Full 1080p HD video recording
High-resolution LCD screen
TAP control
Good panoramic pictures
Fast continuous shooting modes

Olympus Tough TG-820 Cons

Quite a heavy camera
AWB wayward under our studio lights


Olympus Tough TG-820 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.9 - f/5.9
35mm equivalent28mm - 140mm
Optical Zoom5x
Image Sensor
Pixels12Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)3968
Pixels (H)2976
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1,030,000
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus3cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Spot
  • ESP Light Metering
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPSNo Data
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery
Battery Life (CIPA rating)No Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsLI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery, F-2AC AC Adapter, CB-USB6 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Hand Strap, World Wide Warranty Card, Image Management Software

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Photographs taken using the Olympus Tough TG-820

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mrsyardbroom Avatar
10 Dec 2014 11:53AM
My Olympus tg-820 broke down after 11 months. Olympus repaired it but within a week it had stopped working again. I sent it back for another repair and it was returned to me two weeks later with the same fault. After just one year the camera is unusable. It should last longer than this. I am sending it back to Olympus for a third time but I'm not holding my breath. Sad

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