Olympus Tough 8010 rugged camera
Takes the knocks and the shots
Review Hardy products, such as Panasonic's range of Toughbooks, Dell's XFR laptop range, or Olympus's venerable range of Tough cameras, are a tricky sell. Not only do weather proofed, shock-resistant products command inflated prices, it's also difficult to convince the average electronics buyer that they really need the extra strength.
Rough trade: Olympus' Tough 8010
It's only after, say, going through your fourth compact camera in two years that you might seriously consider a toughened product. Even if you're heading to the North Pole, most digital cameras will tolerate colder temperatures, and greater shocks, than their spec sheets claim. Still, seeing what happens when Olympus puts its considerable design and engineering talent to building an essentially indestructible camera is interesting.
The top of its rugged range is the Tough 8010, a 14Mp chunker of a camera which, it's claimed, will survive temperatures as low as minus 10°C, dunks up to 10 metres (including sea water), and takes tumbles of up to two metres. Unusually, it even comes with a manometer to measure altitude or depth, and flashes a warning when your depth comes close to seven metres.
There are various impressive-sounding claims to back this all up. It complies, says Olympus, to the shock and freeze-proof sections of the MIL-STD-810F standard. While MIL-STD-810F isn't exactly a watertight specification for consumer products (pun absolutely intended), the 8010 feels like it will survive the worst treatment.
Over the course of a few weeks, we knocked the Tough 8010 onto the floor, dunked it into ponds and vases of water, and invented a new game dubbed “camera shotput” (played on grass). We even left the 8010 in a tub of water overnight in the freezer. Once the ice had thawed sufficiently to allow the motor-driven lens cover to function, the camera worked perfectly, suggesting Olympus’ claims of toughness are more than merely hot air.
If you can't finger the shutter release, just tap it to take a shot
You can even take a picture by rapping a knuckle against the 8010’s body - although if you're so cold you can't work a shutter release button you may have more urgent problems.
I have the previous generation of this camera, the 1030 SW. It's a really, really robust beast of a camera. It's been in water plenty of times. I've dived with it beyond 10 metres a few times.
In fact, it's been to 14 metres (worked perfectly), 16 metres (buttons wouldn't work beyond about 15 metres), and 19 metres and survived. 19 metres of seawater is lot of pressure, and it's really amazing the camera survives this, as most photography at that sort of depth involves specialist camera housings.
Under water it takes OK pictures. Nothing amazing, and back scatter from the flash ruins pictures unless the water is very very clear, or you are very close to your subject. But, being able to take a pocket size camera with you on a shallow dive is really great. If it can take being shoved in my BCD and spending 45 minutes below 10 metres, it can pretty much take anything.
My experience with the Tough 8000
If you are into adventure sports or accident prone I would seriously think about buying this camera. I own the Tough 8000 and it still works fine after some serious abuse. Last year when I was in Canada I left it on the roof of the car after stopping to take some photos. While overtaking (at ~ 90mph) the camera fell off the top of the car and bounced down the road where it was hit by a car and finally landed in a ditch. Lucky the person behind us saw the camera fall off (and hit his car!!!) and was able to recognise us from the photos when we stopped at the next scenic location. (Luckily he also didn't seem to mind that the camera smacked into his car). The camera ended up with a few scratches and a ever so slight dent but is still working perfectly (and is still waterproof). I couldn't recommend it highly enough if you want a robust camera. A few of my friends have since bought them!
Have had one for over a year now, i got the older version of this with ~10mpix for about £250.
I use it sea kayaking and on the river and i surf, its survived everything. I got my best videos shot ever of 20ft long basking sharks underwater right under the kayak with this wee thing. Its permanently attached with a karabiner and 2 ft shock-cord. Much more portable than my big canon and i can use it 1 handed sitting in surf as well.
If i had to get another compact camera you don't have to worry about i would get another one.
I have the immediate predecessor to this camera, the Tough 8000. It is great for going anywhere and not having to worry that you will damage it by dropping or anything but picture quality is really subpar. I thought the problem was me, so I got a friend who has been doing professional photography for 19 years and he could not get a good picture out of it either.
Also while investigating picture quality I read many places where the 8000's seals failed and the camera ended up with water inside and had to be returned (not from going over the 10 meter threshold, sometimes it happens in pools and while people were in the sea still standing on sand). If it happens within 1 year you can send it back but the camera you will get back to you will be a refurb. If it happens a second time they will NOT replace again.
Also in the small print for the 8000, the seals are only guaranteed for 1 year. People were quoted £100 to replace seals.
Yes, I am sorry I bought the Tough 8000 based on glowing "professional" reviews.
i think this whole series so far has been great, i am rather acedent prone, and do do alot of things that require tough cameras, i have had to send my camera back 2 times for repair, but my golly did olympus do a good job in repairing them for me and free of charge, i also do alot of scubva diving and have gone through quite alot of cameras, and am no usign this for pcitrues underwater, bought hte houseing which for a woppin £200 does give it a miminuim max depth of 40meters however i knwo peopel how have taken it past 50meters and still workign fine, the best thign is though if the housign does leak underwater the camera itself is also waterproof so it might still survie and well i did have it leak once due to noickign the catch off, at 25 meters down came up a bit when i got the surface the camera was apsoltly fine (wet ofc) but still works,
a great camera and this one looks like it is living up to itrs name