We took four of the toughest compacts around on a one-day adventure challenge to see who would survive
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-810
Technically the toughest camera in the test, the TG-810 can survive drops up to 6.6-feet. That trumps the Pentax's five-foot limit with room to spare. it's also waterproof to 33 feet, crush-proof to over 200-pounds and built to withstand all kinds of bad weather.
We'll start off this section by saying: It's built like a brick. With its considerable heft -- it's actually one of the heaviest compacts I've picked up in some time -- it feels durable. That might not sound important, but taking your camera out in dangerous conditions takes some getting used to.
The 3-inch 920K HyperCrystal View LDC screen is far and away the best in the test. The bigger, brighter image did a superior job fighting off direct sunlight, while maintaining the best range of viewing angles. And while there were some tiny imperfections evident at the end of the torture test, they were only visible while the screen was off and from a certain angle.
Continuing with the toughness theme, the waterproofing on the TG-810 is reminiscent of a submarine. The battery/memory card door is robust to say the least and comes with a burly lock to keep things from opening up under any circumstances. No other camera in the test offered that.
Unlike the Pentax and the Fujifilm, Olympus covers the TG-810's lens with a retractable metal slide when it's not in use. While we're hesitant to see moving parts of any kind on a rugged camera, we found this did a great job keeping the optics clear, which resulted in fewer foggy images.
Autofocus and zoom are both very snappy. The zoom is actually so quick that you might find making really fine adjustments a little tricky. But, in the case of a rugged camera, that's a trade-off I'm usually willing to make.
Lastly, I'm a big fan of the nearly full-sized shutter button. It's the biggest in the test and gave the most tactile feedback, which was nice, especially when trying to work it with gloves on.
The second verse starts with the same lyrics as the first: It's built like a brick. And while we've already listed some of the advantages stemming from its stature, there are also a few drawbacks. The biggest negative is the weight. The last thing an athlete of any kind wants is added weight. Combine that heft with the extremely wimpy strap that comes packed in the box and that might equal a lost camera.
While the camera itself is big, the controls are actually a little small. It's not uncomfortable to use, but it's close when you're performing certain actions. I understand the need for the tiny buttons to make room for that big, beautiful screen, but trying to use them with gloves on proved a substantial challenge.
While the TG-810 is comfortable to hold, we can't help but think it would've benefitted for a grippy coating like the one on the Pentax. The Olympus doesn't fall into the slippery category like Canon's S90, but in situations like this, I'll take as much grip as I can get.
Photographically speaking, the shutter lag is nothing to complain about, The AF seems to hunt more than I'd like. It was especially apparent during video capture. In any kind of automatic or scene mode, it seemed a little too eager to fire the flash, even in some instances it probably wouldn't be necessary.
One last gripe is that the battery needs to be in the camera to use the included charger. It's not usually much of an issue, but if you're planning to travel with two batteries, it can be a hassle.
Again, the GPS function is a nice touch. The tripod socket is beefy and located directly in the middle of the camera, which is more ideal than the Pentax's offset orientation. Plus, the notification sounds can get very loud if you want them to. When we ran out of storage space on our SD card, it let out a loud squeal that would be hard to miss.
Waterproof: To a depth of 33-feet (tied for best in test)
Shockproof: From a height of 6.6-feet (best in test)
Crushproof: Up to 220-pounds
Freezeproof: To 14-degrees F
Screen size: 3-inches
Screen Resolution: 920,000 dots
Optical Zoom: 5x (28-140mm equivalent)