Design and features
Tough cameras are unlikely to win any beauty pageants, given their rugged, bulging construction — but the TG-820, in its cherry-red finish, certainly spices up the category. Featuring a sliding metal flap, which covers the 5x optical zoom lens, the front panel is utilitarian and industrial in appearance. The lens zooms internally, so no part of the element protrudes out from the camera's body.
Certainly, you can expect nothing less than total protection, given that the camera can withstand drops from up to 2 metres, is crush proof to 100 kilograms, waterproof to 10 metres and freeze proof to -10 degrees Celsius.
Other Olympus cameras in the same range as the TG-820 come with backlit-CMOS sensors, which this rugged version also shares; rounding out at 12 megapixels, with a native ISO range from 100 to 6400.
Around the back, the TG-820 houses an impressively bright, high-resolution, 3-inch LCD screen, which makes reviewing images particularly pleasurable. Buttons and dials at the back are kept to a minimum and are a little small, which might present a problem when used in a cooler climate with snow gloves. Fortunately, it comes with tap control, which allows you to hit the sides of the camera and register certain functions, removing the need to press the small buttons.
Inside the dual-locking flap sits the battery compartment, along with the SD card slot. There's also a micro-HDMI port and a USB connection, which is also used to charge the battery with the provided adapter.
Shooting modes are predominantly automatic, with intelligent auto, program, scene, beauty, panorama and magic available. Magic filters are creative effects that the camera applies to photos, and the TG-820 has 12 of them available: pop art, pin hole, fish-eye, drawing, soft focus, punk, sparkle, watercolour, reflection, miniature, fragmented and dramatic.
Some examples of the TG-820's magic filters. Clockwise from top left: dramatic, fragmented, fish-eye and reflection.
Controlling the camera is simple enough for beginners, though it may take a while to get accustomed to the zoom rocker, which is rather small and located at the top of the camera, right next to the shutter button. There's also an instant-on record button, which is next to the LCD screen, flanked by a rather large metal holder, used for attaching the wrist strap.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- 220.127.116.11Sony Cyber-shot TX10
- 1.420.5Olympus Tough TG-320
- 18.104.22.168Nikon Coolpix AW100
- 22.214.171.124Olympus Tough TG-820
- 1.90.81Panasonic Lumix FT10
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in FPS)
- 10Sony Cyber-shot TX10
- 5Olympus Tough TG-820
- 1.2Nikon Coolpix AW100
- 0.5Olympus Tough TG-320
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The TG-820 has several continuous shooting modes: regular continuous, which takes photos at the full 12-megapixel resolution (as timed above); and Hi 1/Hi 2 modes, which reduce the resolution to 3 megapixels, but at a faster rate. Regular continuous mode sees the TG-820 take six shots in quick succession, before slowing to process them and then proceeding at a more leisurely 0.9 frames per second.