Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 review: Olympus Stylus Tough 8010

If the majority of the stuff you're shooting with the Tough 8010 is still or slow-moving (landscapes, portraits, flowers, lazy fish), the camera's slow performance might not be an issue for you. The average shutter lag in bright conditions was noticeably long at 0.7 second and an excessive 1.3 seconds in low light. The full-resolution continuous shooting speed of 0.3 frames per second, which is really not good for much, and the long shot-to-shot times for single pictures are a bit maddening: 4 seconds without flash, 4.2 seconds with it. The time from off to first shot is even long at 4 seconds.

Photo quality is overall good to very good, but if you're expecting to make poster-size prints of underwater adventures, this camera's pictures probably won't cut it. Image noise and detail degradation is kept fairly in check up to ISO 400. Colors are natural and pleasing and are at their best at lower ISOs, too; shots were generally evenly exposed as well. At all of the ISO settings, however, photos from the Tough 8010 just aren't sharp. When viewed at larger sizes subjects look soft and fuzzy and somewhat painterly. If you don't do heavy cropping or enlarging, ISO 400 and below are good enough for prints up to 10x13 inches. Photos taken at ISO 800 are definitely softer with less detail, but good enough for small prints and Web use. I can't recommend using anything above that sensitivity as color noise starts to hurt quality. At ISO 1,600, you end up with a purple/blue color cast on shots, making this camera a poor choice for low-light photos without a flash.

Wide-angle lenses typically have some barrel distortion. The Tough 8010's 28mm-equivalent shows slight asymmetrical distortion on the left side. There is also a touch of pincushion distortion when the lens is fully extended. The lens isn't very sharp, but it is consistent from side to side and in the corners. Fringing in high-contrast areas is average for a point-and-shoot camera. It's really only visible when photos are viewed closely at 100 percent. Colors produced by the Tough 8010 are bright, vibrant, and fairly accurate--at least up to ISO 400. Exposure is very good, too, though, as is common for compact cameras, highlights tend to blow out. White balance in natural light is accurate, but indoors subjects look cooler.

Video quality is pretty good, on par with an average pocket video camera, with nice color. It's a little slow to focus and change exposure, though, and if you do a lot of fast panning you will see some judder, which is typical of compact cameras. The zoom lens does work while recording and is nearly silent when moving.

The Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 is a good option if you need something very rugged for shooting outdoors in good light, the conditions I expect most potential buyers will be using it in. Yes, it's waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof, but it's also crushproof, which makes it more rugged than the competition. My biggest problem with it is its sluggish shooting performance that makes it difficult to use for anything other than landscapes and portraits of very patient subjects.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot D10
1.2 
3.9 
2 
0.7 
0.5 
Pentax Optio W90
1.2 
2.1 
1.8 
0.8 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1
1.2 
2.3 
1.9 
1.2 
0.5 
Olympus Stylus Tough 8010
4 
4.2 
4 
1.3 
0.7 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Panasonic Lumix DSC-TS1
1.9 

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