If you’re the outward bound, extreme sports or seasoned traveller type, yout backpack won’t be complete without some form of rugged camera to capture those special moments while you’re cheerfully risking life and limb. Olympus has released a trio of new cameras in its TOUGH range, of which the TG-610 is the mid-range model.
Tough by name…
Available in silver, black, blue and red, the TG-610 feels reassuringly solid and weighty at 190g (complete with battery and memory card), and measures 100x65x26mm.
The legend on its front proudly proclaims that the TG-610 is waterproof down to 5m, shockproof from a dropped height of 1.5m, and can be plunged into frozen conditions to -10°C. Obvious protection includes a metal lens barrier that slips down over the lens when the camera is switched off, and a tough side panel that uses a sliding double lock mechanism to safeguard the battery, card slots and ports.
The back of the camera is dominated by a 3in, 920,000-pixel Super Precision HyperCrystal III LCD, which provides exceptionally bright and clear images while cutting down on glare and offering strong scratch-resistance. What little space remains is largely taken up with a sturdy strap holder, so you can sling the camera around your neck, and a neat control column that incorporates a simple rocker-style zoom, a dedicated video record button (for 720p HD movies), playback, plus controls for the extremely helpful on-screen menus, and a joystick-style navigation pad.
The joystick is the only part of the design that fails miserably – and it’s especially disappointing, as it plays a key role. The problem is that the stick isn’t firm enough, so working your way through the menu options can become a frustrating and time-consuming business.
The camera’s 5x wide angle optical zoom (equivalent to 28-140mm), on the other hand, operates smoothly. The 14-megapixel 1/2.3in CCD sensor ensures you get plenty of detail in both outdoor and underwater shots – and there’s wireless Eye-Fi card compatibility, so you can swiftly upload images to a website or PC.
Talking of underwater, there are no fewer than three swimming scene settings – landscape, action and macro – as well as a general beach/pool option. The presence of an ‘auto underwater’ white balance will be a massive boon to snorkelers, or those who want to use their camera in conditions where there are strong light contrasts.
Many of the usual Olympus features are built-in, such as dual image stabilisation, a collection of eight special effects known as Magic Filters, Intelligent Auto Mode, animal face detection and shadow adjustment, plus some more chic extras such as 3D stills (where you cleverly pan the camera slightly between shots) and Beauty Mode (for hiding those nasty spots). Ultimately, though, this is going to be chiefly used by the beach party crowd.
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- Rugged build and reliable image quality.
- Annoying joystick control.
The Olympus TOUGH TG-610 would be the perfect rugged digital camera to take with you on seaside and snow holidays with its water friendly features, good quality imagery and fun effects, were it not let down by a sloppy navigation control.