Product Reviews

Olympus Stylus Tough 8010: The Little Camera That Can

It’s waterproof, freeze-proof, shockproof, crushproof, and takes good pictures. The new Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 is an excellent camera for touring motorcyclists and outdoor enthusiasts.

Like so many other pocket cameras, this one captures images up to 14.1 mega-pixels (4,288 x 3,216) and has automatic settings for just about every scenario a person is likely to encounter.  It has macro, super macro (1.2 inch focal distance), and even super macro that’s illuminated by an internal LED.  It has wide-angle (>28 mm) optical telephoto (<140 mm ) and digital telephoto (<700 mm).  Flash, auto flash, remote flash, and red-eye flash.  It has settings for automatic exposure adjustments by 0.3, 0.5, and 0.7 f/stops; ISO settings from 80 to 1600 plus automatic and high.  Lighting ranges from sunshine, and cloudy through three types of fluorescents, incandescent, candle, and automatic settings.  It will take multiple sequential shots, continuous images, or the standard single image with every push of the “shutter” button.  All of this is just for the Program mode.  There’s also iAuto and the very different automatic optimizer, Magic, Beauty, and Panorama settings, plus 23 others.  Yes, it takes HD video (1280 x 720 30fps), and will record MP4 audio notes for each picture frame.  It has adjustments for meter readings, shadows, image compression, image size, image stabilization, picture orientation, and much more.

What’s more important is what this camera doesn’t do.  It’s waterproof so it doesn’t die until you’re 33 feet beneath the waves.  It’s freeze-proof (>14ºF) so don’t worry about taking it on your next ski vacation.  It’s shockproof, but only from normal heights (6.6 ft) so the warranty is void if you take it mountain climbing.  It’s crushproof (220 lbs) so if you accidentally step on it you don’t end up with broken bits of plastic.  What this means is that you have a camera that can take pictures in the rain and doesn’t die in dusty conditions.  It’s not going to break if it falls out our pocket or tank bag and you don’t have to worry if it ends up packed underneath your tool kit.  In fact, the heft of this little camera is absolutely reassuring.

I had the opportunity to examine last year’s model, which had a touch-screen.  No touch screen this year: nice solid push buttons and a 2.7-inch “HyperCrystal View” LCD screen.  This is a big improvement in my opinion.  The opening for the SD/SDHC data card and cable ports now has a lock in addition to the release button – another improvement over last year’s model.  All the control buttons are easy to use, except the shutter button can be quite difficult to trigger when wearing leather riding gloves.

I haven’t been nice to this camera, which is quite unlike me.  The mirror polished faceplate is scratched, the frame around the shuttered lens is broken, and there are even a few scratches on the LED screen.  However, I’ve just thrown this camera into my tank bag and have worn it in my jeans pocket along with keys and loose change.  It has been dropped a few times and washed with warm soap and water whenever it has gotten too dirty.  From a practical standpoint it’s the best travel camera I have ever tested.

It doesn’t process images as quickly as my professional Nikon, but in low-light interior spaces it does take better pictures.  The color of the LCD screen is excellent, but will never replace a viewfinder when the sun is positioned directly behind you.  It downloads images to a computer much quicker than my professional SLR cameras and the playback view is much, much better.  In fact, for most people the Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 is a better choice than a semi-professional SLR digital camera.  It certainly is a better choice for motorcyclists.

Yes, I still prefer my professional Nikon DSLR, but when the weather gets nasty or the going gets tough, it’s this little Olympus camera that I pull out of my tank bag to capture the shot.

Suggested retail:  $399.99

Colors: silver or black

Where to purchase:  Olympus dealers, major retailers,



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