Review: Olympus u-Tough 8010

By Branko Miletic

Remember the saying: “if it were any tougher, it would rust”? Well, it must have been invented for this little point and shoot digital camera from Olympus.

This is a camera that should be on everyone’s list for things to buy before going mountain climbing or for those who like to jump out of airplanes with a camera in tow.

To get the ball rolling, let’s point one thing out—the ‘u’ is actually the letter m- which is pronounced ‘myuw’ and is the 12th letter of the Greek alphabet and represents one millionth, or 10 to the power of – 6. What this means in relation to the camera? Who knows? Just consider it your useless piece of information for the day, and if you want to look smart at your next water cooler conversation, just bring it up. Nobody will know what you are talking about, but you’ll sound intelligent!

With that out of the way, at some 220 gms, (with the SD card) and the feel of a product that comes from Bunnings and not a camera store, the Olympus m-Tough 8010 certainly gives the impression of being a tough little beast – you can drop it 2m, get one of your 100kg mates to sit on it, or stick it 10m underwater and it will all be fine. You can even bury it in snow at – 10 degrees C if you like. I didn’t try that latter of course because I live in Sydney, not Threadbo.

In terms of usability, the m-Tough 8010 is really easy – so much so that my 5-year old worked out how to turn it on, take pictures and switch it to movie mode, whereby she managed to take a movie of her mum in the kitchen.

So like most digital camera’s out there, the GUI and most other user functions are more or less the same- hence the name ‘point and shoot’.

Where these pocket cameras differ is what quality of digital output they give you and how easy (or otherwise) they are to hook up to a PC and/or Mac.

The m-Tough 8010 is in many ways very similar to the Panasonic Lumix FT2 – bar the toughness, it is similar in every other aspect. It is a 14-megapixel camera with 720dpi HD video output, USB port and a 5 x digital zoom with a HDMI port and 2 Gb of internal storage. It comes with a 28mm lens and a 2.7-inch LCD screen for viewing your shots and of course a decent flash..

However, there are a few brickbats amongst the bouquets. First, the microphone is a bit average and so is the video quality for that matter- even at 720dpi it still looks a bit ordinary.

Second, it’s a 14-megpixel snapper, the pictures, in JPEG format, are only at 8 megapixels for some reason. Mind you, this is way more than most people need, but it would be nice to have the biggest picture size possible.

Third, the camera doesn’t like to share itself too readily with a PC—or in my case, a Mac. Yes, after a bit of mucking around, you can get it to load your pictures on your laptop/desktop, but be warned patience is required.

The Olympus m-Tough 8010 is a great camera—it’s as good most other point-and-shoot digital snappers out there, with the added benefit of being built like a Russian tank.

So if you are going overseas, mountain climbing, hunting, parachuting, base jumping or just lead and really rough and tumble lifestyle, this is the camera for you.

And even if your hobbies are a bit more sedate, knowing that you have a camera that can take the knocks and bumps of life means it will probably last you some time.

Pros: tough, easy to use and good zoom and memory
Cons: lack of filters, some download issues and movie quality ordinary.

4 shacks out of 5