Olympus TG-850 review
Introducing the selfie to the tough camera
- Robust build
- 180 degree rotating screen
- Waterproof to ten metres
- Poor night time photos
More effort has gone into the TG-850’s design than its photographic abilities. Night photos and videos will come out grainy, but the people this camera is intended for will seldom need a tough camera at night. Rather the TG-850 is designed for those moments you need to capture quickly in the midst of doing something extreme. Most of the time it will be pointing upwards for that hero shot with the blue sky in the background, and with its 180 degree rotating screen, it’s the one tough camera that can actually frame the photo right.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
Olympus’ latest tough camera is not easy on the eye, but the extreme enthusiast will appreciate its unyielding never-say-die attitude and its swivel 180 degree screen.
Function over design is the mantra of the Stylus TG-850. Everything is designed big and bulky. Everything has been designed to last. The lanyard loop is not so much a loop, but rather a robust metal handle pinned down by two philips-head screws. It feels bolted down.
Olympus’ experience in tough cameras shines through
Then there is the vault-like door that protects various ports and innards. Two switches — that’s right, two — have to be disengaged for it to swing open. It guards the 925 milliamp-hour battery, a SDXC card, a micro-HDMI port and a charging port.
Out of place is a pivoting screen. Grounding it to the body are two sturdy hinges. No sign of strain is exhibited by the rotating the screen, even when you hold only it and shake the camera about. It feels rock solid.
The screen itself uses an LCD panel, spans 3-inches and has 460k pixels. Legibility is great even under direct sunlight and it benefits from wide viewing angles. Naturally its ability to flip 180 degrees is the big draw because it makes the TG-850 the first tough camera with a rotating screen.
It escaped completely unscathed
Controls are predominantly found alongside the screen. A conventional control wheel alternates between shooting modes, with a navigational pad doubling as shortcuts. A glove-friendly shutter key can be found atop next to a zoom toggle.
The bulging size proves effective in using the camera on the go. Buttons are easy to access, give plenty of feedback and curate a menu that is simple to use. The camera is responsive and Olympus’ experience in developing tough cameras shines through.
Never say ‘die’ attitude
Olympus has laboured extensively to make the TG-850 tough and it shows. The camera’s two locks are in place just in case one of them isn’t closed properly or fails. On top of that the TG-850’s chassis has double-sealed waterproofing. This attention to detail allows the TG-850 to survive in waters 10 metres deep.
Additionally, the camera is impervious to dust, will withstand drops of 2.1 metres and will operate in temperatures as cold as -10 degree celsius.
Not a droplet of water seeped into its double-latched door
Testing the rugged credentials of the camera required something a little more grueling than our day-to-day, so we took the TG-850 with us on a camping trip. During a hike the camera slipped from our hands and onto a rock face a metre and a half below. It escaped completely unscathed.
Wet hands came in contact with the camera often while fishing, but what is wet hands to a camera that has a 10 metre waterpoof rating?
So we dunked it instead. No damage what-so-ever.
Then, back at the office, we threw it in a water tank while recording for half an hour. The camera emerged unphased. Not a droplet of water seeped into its double-latched door. Nada.
Admittedly Good Gear Guide didn’t take the camera to its 10 metre limits, but the camera’s performance during our testing inspired confidence.
16MP photos, grand panoramic shots
The TG-850 throws together a CMOS sensor with Olympus’ TruPic VII image processor to capture 16 megapixel photos. It has a 21-105mm zoom lens, 5x optical zoom and an ISO range of ISO 125 to ISO 6400.
Photo performance was generally strong for the TG-850. Colours are rendered accurately as opposed to being exaggerated, and often the details of a photo remain intact. Panoramic photos were stitched together almost seamlessly, and a super macro mode does well to focus on fine tones up close.
Six 16MP full resolution photos can be captured in rapid succession, but the camera can snap 60 photos in one second at 3 megapixels. A nifty additive in a tough camera if you’re trying to pin down the prime moment of a stunt.
The camera really struggles in the blanket of night
But the camera really struggles in the blanket of night. Excess image noise degrades the quality of full resolution photos. Relying on the flash is no good as the artificial light will come at the expense of colour being flushed. Night photos might be passable on the tiny 3in screen, but viewing them even on a high-resolution smartphone screen will reveal image perversions. The TG-850’s weak night-time photography is what prevents it from meeting the needs of a wider audience.
Videos share the same sensibilities common to the TG-850’s still photos; they’re best in daylight and greatly pixelate in poorly-lit night environments. They are captured in Full HD resolution at up to 60 frames per second, but the camera can increase the frame rate for slow motion recording if you nominate a lower resolution. Options include 640x480 @ 120 fps and 432x324 @ 240 fps, but these modes will only capture video and not audio.
More effort has gone into the TG-850’s design than its photographic capabilities. Night photos and videos will come out grainy, but the people this camera is intended for will seldom need a tough camera at night.
Rather the TG-850 is designed for those moments you need to capture quickly in the midst of doing something extreme, whether it is kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking or tasks even more demanding. Most of the time it will be pointing upwards for that hero shot with the blue sky in the background, and with its 180 degree rotating screen, it’s the one tough camera that can actually frame the photo right.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- 2 Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- 3 LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review
- 4 Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Boom: SanDisk just dropped the world's largest SD card
- Camera app makers tap into RAW power with iOS, and look forward to dual lenses
- Google Camera 3.2 lets you snap pictures while recording video
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- TPSenior Business AnalystQLD
- FTInside Sales Consultants - SMSF SoftwareNSW
- TPAutomation TesterQLD
- CCOrganisational Change LeadNSW
- CCSAP CRM Functional AnalystWA
- FTTIBCO Support AnalystVIC
- CCSenior Business AnalystNSW
- CCSoftware Licencing SpecialistNSW
- TPBusiness Analyst - DSITIQLD
- CCNetwork Engineer FIFO WeipaQLD
- FTData Entry Administrator - TelecommunicationsNSW
- FTTechnical Architect - Network /InfrastructureQLD
- FTProject Manager - Multiple rolesQLD
- FTSenior Desktop Engineer - SCCM / AD / 2012 ServerNSW
- TPEnterprise ArchitectQLD
- CCSenior Devops EngineerVIC
- FTJava Development Lead/ / Senior Java DeveloperVIC
- FTSenior Network EngineerACT
- FTSenior Business Analyst Forecaster - TelecommunicationsNSW
- FTSecurity Architect - Perth BasedQLD
- FTPERMANENT Business AnalystsWA
- FTTelecommunications Installation ManagerSA
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTTest Automation Lead | 6mth ContractVIC
- FTAgile Scrum Master/TrainerNSW