Olympus Tough TG-310 review
Image quality is nothing special, but this rugged, waterproof, low-cost camera makes a lot of sense in inhospitable environments.
Review Date: 19 Apr 2011
Price when reviewed: £143
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
The TG310 costs a lot less than most rugged, waterproof cameras. It doesn't look especially invulnerable with its plastic shell, but its light weight and lack of extrusions mean that we don't doubt Olympus's claim that it'll survive drops from 1.5m. It's also waterproof to 3m and freeze-proof to -10 degrees centigrade.
The HDMI output is more than we'd expect at this price, and optical image stabilisation is another welcome surprise. Otherwise, its specs are typical for a budget camera, with a 14-megapixel sensor, modest 3.6x zoom and 2.7in LCD screen. The screen looks like a particularly cheap component, with slightly washed out colours. Thankfully, photos looked better once we'd uploaded them to the PC.
It didn't make a great first impression, taking almost five seconds to switch on and shoot. This could be the difference between catching and missing a shot. Icons appear down the right edge of the screen, giving quick access to photographic options such as flash, drive mode and ISO speed. Exposure compensation and white balance options show three preview images side by side (see below) to demonstrate the effect of different settings, but this carousel of previews merely served to make adjusting these settings painfully slow. At least the camera was responsive in normal use, taking two seconds between shots. The 14-megapixel continuous mode was no faster but a 3-megapixel mode ran at a respectable 3.1fps.
The buttons are on the small side, which won't find favour with those with big thumbs or stiff joints. They're impossible to use with gloves, so this isn't an ideal skier's camera. The button labelled with a question mark is a nice touch, though, providing on-screen help for the selected menu option. There isn't much in the way of conventional photographic options but there are lots of other features to keep casual users entertained, including automatic panorama stitching, pinhole camera and pop art effects and a Beauty mode for giving portraits an airbrushed effect. There's even a Pet Detection mode, which apparently captures dogs' and cats' faces when they look at the camera. We wonder whether Olympus's firmware developers have too much time on their hands.
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