Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Waterproof Camera Preview

Camera Reviews Featured Olympus Uncategorized Underwater Videos

Last week I put in a rush order with Olympus for their brand new Stylus Tough-8010 waterproof point-and-shoot digital camera. I was in a hurry because I picked up a magazine job shooting a salt-water hot springs in the Utah desert that has tropical fish – including sharks! I wanted to be able to take underwater photos if possible, and in my experience, the Olympus waterproof cameras have been the most trustworthy. Plus, Bonneville Seabase is one of the coolest underwater camera testing environments you could ask for. I got lucky and e-mailed the day they got their first shipment in. The next day, the 8010 was on my doorstep.

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Waterproof Digital Camera Preview

The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 is a 14-megapixel pocket-sized camera that’s waterproof to 33 feet and can withstand drops of over 6 feet. It’s freezeproof and crushproof as well so it’s safe to leave it in the path of a fast-moving glacier. Other important Stylus Tough-8010 features are 720p video, a 28-140mm optical zoom (equivalent), dual image stabilization and tracking auto focus. For a hands-on overview, watch my super amateur box-opening video (below).

In less than a week I’ve taken the Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 camera salt water snorkeling and skiing and I predict I’ll get some mountain bike photos with it before the week is out. I challenge other reviewers to match that kind of testing diversity in such a short period! I love Utah! This camera is gonna get abused!

My first impression is that the new Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 is built better than other Olympus waterproof / shockproof cameras I’ve used. I noticed right away that it has just one compartment for the battery and memory card, whereas previous Olympus waterproof cameras had separate doors for memory and battery. The new single-door design leaves less chance for a leak and it looks like they’ve beefed up the gaskets and added an extra locking mechanism that further tightens the battery compartment door after its closed. I had it in the water at the hot springs for about half an hour, followed by a freshwater rinse and shower. A couple of days later it was subjected to below freezing temps and a good dusting of snow. Yesterday it had to endure a portrait session in a jar of water. I even dropped it for effect in my intro video. I haven’t really pushed the limits, though. I doubt it went any deeper than 3 feet under water and the drop was only a couple of feet. Unless Olympus asks me to try to break it, I’m not going to do anything out of the ordinary. And so far, my ordinary – which is a bit on the extreme side – hasn’t done any damage.

So far, I have one issue with the 8010 – image quality. I haven’t done close comparisons with other cameras but my initial impression is that the images are over-processed and probably over-compressed. Take a close look at the sample images below and you’ll see that they’re very mushy and watercolory, probably due to lots of in-camera noise reduction. In my experience there’s always an image quality compromise with the rugged, waterproof point-and-shoot cameras. The 8010 photos aren’t horrible or unusable but for one of the more expensive point-and-shoot cameras ($399) on the market and Olympus’ top-of-the-line outdoor camera, I think the image quality should be better at the Fine JPEG setting.

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Underwater Sample Photo Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Kitty Cat Sample Photo Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Ski Lift Sample Photo
Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 SLC Crossing Sample Photo Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Singlespeed Bike Sample Photo Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Construction Site Sample Photo

Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.
See all Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Photos >>

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Tracking AF Action Sample PhotoI haven’t shot any video with the Olympus 8010 yet but I have been playing with the tracking auto focus. It allows you to manually lock onto a subject and then the camera tracks it as long as you keep it in the frame. My initial tests aren’t perfect, but still pretty impressive for a pocket-sized point-and-shoot. I tested it on the ski slopes this weekend and it was cool to watch the auto focus point follow the subject through the frame. I think the auto focus will be the weak link but for people without technical photography skills, it should still do a better job than they’re used to. I am going to continue to play with it and see how consistently it can deliver usable photos.

There’s more testing to be done with the Olympus Stylus Tough-8010, including controlled studio tests and more action photos. My initial impressions are a bit mixed, due to the mushy image quality. Aside from the image quality, the performance is better than other waterproof / rugged point-and-shoots I’ve used and the build feels bombproof. Watch the site for more on the Olympus Stylus Tough-8010.

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Announcement >>

Related Content:
Olympus Digital Camera User Reviews
Olympus Cameras Forum
General Digital Cameras Forum
Outdoor and Waterproof Digital Cameras Guide
More Olympus News And Articles
Olympus Digital Cameras Web Site


About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of PhotographyREVIEW.com and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • Raymond says:

    Nice review PJ. The image quality is definitely an issue. Can you shoot RAW?

  • Photo-John says:

    No RAW shooting, Ray. There are no waterproof / rugged cameras that allow RAW shooting. The best image quality I’ve seen so far in a waterproof / shockproof camera is the Canon Powershot D10. But it’s definitely not pocket-sized. I’m also testing the Casio Exilim G1 right now. The image quality with that camera seems to be pretty good although I haven’t made studio tests with that camera or the Olympus 8010, yet. To be fair, you really need to make prints to evaluate the image quality. But some of these images definitely look a lot mushier than I’m used to when I look at them at 100%. Olympus probably should have left the resolution at 12 MP, or even 10.

  • Daniel says:

    Your review of the 8010 is the first one I’ve been able to find on the web. Thanks a lot! I’ve alreadu reserved mine at a local camera shop and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. The one thing that interests me the most right now is it video capability. Maybe you already intend to cover this in your next installment, but I would like to know if you can use the zoom while shooting videos. My current camera takes pretty decent videos (although not 720P), but the zoom becomes fixed as soon as you switch to video mode. Thanks again!

  • Photo-John says:

    I timed my request for the camera perfectly. They’d just got their review units in and I did a bunch of cool stuff in the past week, hence the quickie preview piece. I just tested the video for you and the zoom does work while you’re filming :-)

    Thanks for the comment. Please write a review here on the site after you get your camera and get to know it. We need your reviews!

  • Daniel says:

    I will definitely write up my own layman’s review as soon as I get my 8010. I called the store today and they said it probably won’t come in for a few more weeks. I’ll just have to be patient. But I’m sure the wait will be worthed.

  • Loveland Dan says:

    First off, sweet tats, man!

    Anyway, I applaud Olympus and other manufacturers for making this type of camera. For the outdoor activities I pursue out here in Colorado; hiking, mountain biking, rafting, skiing, etc., these cameras are great. I have an 8010 on order. It should compliment my Lumix FZ35 nicely.

    I have owned a Canon D10. It took good shots, but I longed for a stronger optical zoom. I am happy to see that Olympus, Lumix, FujiFilm, and others are improving their sport camera offerings this spring.

    I guess for me, I go into this knowing full well I am making some sacrifices in terms of image quality in order to get the durability I desire. I also don’t mind spending time with post-processing with PS. I know I will never get the images to DSLR quality or perhaps even what an advanced PnS can achieve, however I feel these cameras strike a good balance between image quality and durability. I’ve had cameras ruined on vacations by dropping them or getting sand or water in them and let me tell you, it sucks!

    Thanks for the informative review, Photo-John! I actually think your sample images look pretty good. But then again, I usually only get 4×6 or 5×7 prints anyway, so my needs aren’t that great.

  • Paul says:


    I’m looking to get an 8010, due to its higher capabilitites than other rugged digitals. However can anyone offer an opinion on its size compared to others – in particular the new sony waterproof?


  • Photo-John says:

    I’ve seen all the new waterproof cameras and the 8010 is a bit larger than the Sony. It’s still a truly pocket-sized camera, though.

  • Tor Rønnow says:

    I’d like to hear oppinions on Panasonic TS2 or Pentax Optio W90 against Tough 8010.

    I have a Tough 8000 but is unhapp about the image quality. I use it for marathon running.. if other less-rugged PnS could be ok, I’d like the tips… what I would like is superior image quality… or, as good as it can get with some moist and beating resistance for the camera.

  • Photo-John says:

    Both of those cameras are really new, Tor. But I just spoke with Pentax today and I should have the Optio W90 in a few days. After the Olympus 8010, it’s the waterproof point-and-shoot I am most interested in. So you can expect another quick turnaround preview article like this one for the Pentax, in about a week.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Gjalt says:

    Could you post a video made with the 8010? I have a Olympus stylus mju 850 SW at the moment and the video quality isn’t that great.

    Great preview, great site.

  • Chris Dundorf says:

    I’ve been reading the specs on the W90 and even called Pentax to see if it will rise from the image quality ashes of the W80. The guy who I spoke thought it might be a little better but didn’t give it the broad praise I was hoping for. I look forward to a true image quality review.

  • Daniel says:

    Just got my 8010! I’ll write my first impressions in a few days and try to make available a short video, so that people who are like me and are very anxious to assess the picture quality of the video can see by themselves what Olympus managed to squeeze in that little camera. Stay tuned.

  • Loveland Dan says:

    After testing my 8010, I have no issues at all with picture quality. You just have to keep your expectations realistic. It’s not a SLR or even an advanced PnS. But with a little post-production time in PS, I can produce some terrific results with this camera.

    This camera fits a certain niche, and does it quite nicely.

    Have fun!

  • Lindsay says:

    I bought my 8010 today and was testing out some of the features including the video. One thing I noticed right off the bat when I replayed the video is that the mic picked up the internal sounds of the camera zooming in and/or out (can’t hear externally when shooting). Also, the the external sounds it picked up where very muffled and quiet. I didn’t buy this cam for video but would be a nice feature if it worked. Has anyone else tried the video? Did you get the same results or did I get a lemon right out the box?

  • Greig says:

    Hello there!

    I’ve just started to ‘play’ with mine and I wonder if anyone can advise me on a little problem?

    I’m by no means a ‘photographer’ and I basically want to point and shoot – not literally, but with little fussing around.

    I notice that when I use iauto or any scene mode, evry straight line in the taken image has what can only be described as a ‘serrated edge’ to it. I have tried taking the same shot using fewer pixels but the result is the same. They are noticable enough on the camera screen but look really bad when viewed on the pc screen.

    Is there something I am missing or is the quality really this poor?

    Hope you can help folks…heaven knows, I’m miserable now.


  • Photo-John says:

    I’m not sure I understand whhat you mean by “serrated edge.” I understand, “serrated,” but I’m not seeing that with my 8010 images. Take a look at the railroad crossing photo in the article (above). The strait lines all look smooth. They’re a bit soft, but not serrated or pixelated. How closely are you looking at the photos? What resolution and quality do you have the camera set at? For best results, you should have it set at the highest resolution and Fine quality.

    All of you guys who just got your cameras, please make sure to write reviews after you’ve used them a bit. User reviews are the foundation of PhotographyREVIEW.com and we need your reviews! Here’s a link to the Olympus 8010 user review page: http://www.photographyreview.com/cat/cameras/digital-cameras/above-10-megapixel/olympus/PRD_449695_6447crx.aspx

  • Greig says:


    Thanks for the reply. I have it set to Fine and am using the highest resolution too. Not sure why it’s doing this. I’ve tried different shots and it is still showing the same serrated edge to the straight lines (sorry for the lack of better description!). Obviously, it gets worse as you zoom in, but surely I shouldn’t be getting this effect on normal viewing?

    I was given this camera by Olympus to replace my previous one (the Mju-8000) which failed after the first use during snorkelling. This one seems of better build quality, but so far the image quality isn’t a patch on the Mju-8000.

    Unless it’s me! :)

  • Photo-John says:

    Why don’t you upload a photo to the gallery here so we can take a look? There’s a 5 MB file size limit but you can upload at full resolution.

  • Greig says:

    I’d love to do that…but!

    I have no idea how to use this new “ib” program and I can’t even see how to ‘save’ an image onto the computer.

    It was so much easier with the 8000 and the Olympus Master software.


  • Photo-John says:

    I don’t know what you mean by “ib” program. But when you connect the camera to the computer, the camera will show up as a drive. Then you can drag and drop the photos to your computer. I almost never use the software that comes with a digital camera.

  • Tor Rønnow says:

    I have found this review of the Panasonic:


    It seems to me that the Panasonic offers the best image quality of the new rugged camaras, ie. the Olympus 8010, Canon D10, the Casio rugged and even the Pentax W90 though the latter could prove powerful as well… according to a thread on Steves-digicams.com.

    Anyways… anyone to comment on the image quality for all these models, especially the Panasonic TS2 (or FT2, same thing).

    Kind regards, Tor

  • Daniel says:

    I only really tested the video portion of the camera, and my main comment is pretty much in line with what’s been said so far. If you’re shooting in a very quiet setting (like your infant sleeping in his crib), the expect a truly noticeable background noise emanating from the camera and being picked up by the built-in microphone. If there’s a fair amount of surrounding sound, like city traffic, waves, crowd, etc., then the problem is solved. I had a camera that had a similar noise, but only when the zoom was being used. In this case, the noise is always there. So if this is an important issue for you, do keep that in mind!

  • Russ says:

    I’d be interested in the shutter delay of all the cameras you have tested. This is one of my pet peeves. I bought a nice Canon DSLR a few years ago and the delay is horrible. I have missed so many good shots because of the delay. Now I am looking for a good compact camera that is waterproof, shockproof and low shutter delay. I need it for my fly fishing when in my float tube or fishing a stream.

  • Manuel says:

    I bought one of these to take with me on honeymoon.
    The camera is easy to use and the picture quality seemed pretty good.
    Unfortunately it leaked on the second day. As we were on a tropical island I had to use a crappy disposable for the rest of the trip. Deciding now whether to get it replaced or just ask for a refund???

  • Jared says:

    Hello -
    I was wondering what you guys were seeing for battery life? And how long does it take to recharge?

    I think all of the waterproof camera manufacturer’s forgot to think about the fact that some of the people who are interested in buying these cameras might be using them in places where electricity is not readily accessible. Being able to feed in AAs would be a huge plus for me.

  • Lauuren says:

    I have had this camera for a little over a month, and the battery life lasted a decent amount of time without needing to be charged. But when I took the battery out and put it in the battery charger, it will not make a solid charge connection for more than 10 seconds. The charge light goes on and then shuts off before you can even walk away. I’ve tried fiddling with the battery when I put it in the charger, cleaned the connections, and tried it on multiple outlets. I’m going to get a new battery, but it’s brand new so I don’t know what the problem could be. If that doesn’t work I will probably try and order a new charger. Sooooo frustrating. I WILL be sending this camera back if the new battery/charger doesn’t work.

  • iceman says:

    I own an Olympus 1030SW. I’m looking at a 8010 because the one button video feature would make switchibg from still to video underwater much easier. Then I discovered that while the 1030SW has the option of “land video” or “underwater video” the 8010 does not. This leaves me with the opinon that there will be no color correcting for underwater video. As you know the camera does have several underwater still modes that make this adjustment. I confirmed this fact with Olympus Tech. Why would they eliminate this option? I think I’m going to pass on this one.

  • sheri says:

    i cracked my lcd screen on my stylus 790sw while hiking up mt evans….looking for a a good durable upgrade. sounds like the 8010 is the answer.

  • Beau Smith says:

    I am looking at either the Olymous 8010 or the Pentax optio W90 the usage will be travel holidays gigs and festivals possible sports of different variety like rock climbing and biking, any help?


  • jon says:

    Beau….I have owned the w90 and the 810…..I would stay clear of the w90. I believe the build quality is far better on the 810. Better seals..tighter door. I had the 1030 sw for 2 years and beat the crap out of it. just got the 810. The w90 …I had for 2 weeks and returned it for a refund.

  • Harry says:

    Excellent review and forum PJ. You provide a genuine public service. I would like to know if anyone else has tried the underwater housing (PT -048)? I am a rather heavy underwater user of the Tough Olympus for underwater snapshots, and after flooding three of the earlier models over the years; I no longer go snorkelling with any of them without using housing. I like the camera, but I am risk adverse. I have to say, I am less than fully satisfied with the performance of the 8010 in its housing, shutter speeds seem slower and auto focus are appear to work less effectively than the 1030SW, which did not have face recognition, but did a fair job underwater. I have yet to find the magic setting which gives me good colour, shutter speeds and, most importantly effective auto-focus underwater. I can deal with the slower time between photos, going from three pictures per breath to one. Do any of your readers have suggestions?

  • Jas says:

    How long is the battery life? My relative is about to get me one but im kinda worried abt the battery life….. onc i got this really crappy camera..the battery couldnt last 5 mins after owning it for abt 2 mnths…. and also does the 8010 always have problems with the underwaterproofing? im about to go to snokelling soon and i deifnately would NOT want the camera to break down when im at the resort….. :( help?

  • Graeme says:

    I have been planning on getting the 8010 above all others for this reason: The underwater video. It’s not going to be anywhere near the quality of other cameras in a water proof housing, but the price is right for what I’m using it for. I’m using it for real time feedback for swimmers at practice. I’m using the camera for the one place I can’t be to coach effectively for senior swimmers…. underwater. The kids love to play with it in the water too and they have benefited from the underwater video. We’ll see how this transpires this season.

  • Heidi says:

    I am really into outdoor sports and I’m tough on cameras. I snowboard and wakeboard and hike and surf… so I face all kinds of different conditions and my cameras don’t last long. This time I’ve decided to spend what ever it takes to get the most durable camera I can but I also wanted good images. I’ve read so many reviews now that I’m confused! All of the TOUGH cameras seem to have terrible picture quality! Can anyone help me out? I need something that can go underwater 30 feet or be dropped in the sand and still take a nice picture when we have our family Christmas supper you know? What should I look into getting? Please help!

  • fahd says:

    my new olympus camera while using for the first time in the swimming pool only at 2ft below water, the seal for battery compartment and usb port broke loose. my camera is out of survice. before using it i made sure all the latches were properly secured. for me, i think it is very poorly tested product, and i feel being deceived. i would not recommend anybody to use this crap.

  • Redbeard says:

    Photo john, since you are the only person I’ve found who makes a competent review I want to ask if you would advise me to buy the olympus 8010 for decent picture quality but mostly durability? hope this doesn’t make me seem arrogant.

  • V says:

    bought this camera TWICE. ABOSULUTE GARBAGE.

    Why on earth would they make the latch system on the side of a waterproof camera. 1st time I had slipped and my hand slid along that latch opening up the USB connection.

    2nd time – submerged it in water sealed and all….and now i can’t turn it on. GARBAGE. Horrible pictures.

  • Alf says:

    I was wondering if everyone has this problem… I own the 8010 and every time I turn my camera on to use it, I have to adjust the settings to a specific use because once I turn the camera off, it always goes back to its original and same setting. It’s so annoying because I can’t just point and shoot without missing some desired shots.
    Hope you can help. Thanks.

  • Daniel Z says:

    Is this camera is compatible to an HP computer with windows vista because i do a ton of photo and video transferring? Thanks for your time to answer this. It’s greatly appreciated.

  • Photo-John says:

    Buy a USB card reader for transferring photos and compatibilty is no longer an issue. That said, if your computer is on a recent operating system (Windows XP, Windows 7, etc.) you shouldn’t have any problems. I prefer a crad reader, though. I avoid installing camera companies’ crappy software on my computers if at all possible.

  • Gwenny H. says:

    Thanks for the review! Not sure where to post this question: maybe you can help? But anyhow I just purchased the 8010 back in November… My first impression was that it wasn’t auto-focusing properly. No matter how hard I tried on my first snorkel trip to capture a fish under water, only about 1 out of every 3 shots was picking up on the fish, and even then, it wasn’t the best… the other 2 shots were always blurred. I experimented with nearly every mode on this camera… same result. I went back to Best Buy within a week and exchanged it for a different camera, same model because I didn’t want to pay a re-stock fee to switch to a Canon model. Initially, I thought the auto-focus was much better on the second 8010. But after a couple times, I’m realizing it’s still not focusing on what I want. For example, I’ll try to snap a shot of a school of fish and all the camera captures is any air bubbles in the water between me and the fish, with the fish as the background. What am I doing wrong? I’ve tried all 3 underwater settings… It seems like a great camera, very durable, and very waterproof, but I’m disappointed that I can’t just get clear shots….The camera is NOT seeing what I’m seeing, at least under water. If I take a picture in my living room, it does well enough. Any suggestions? What am I doing wrong? Thanks in advance!

  • star says:

    I have an Olympus 8010, I bought it last November 2010. I used it on a pool 2 weeks ago for the first time. After half an hour (out of the pool) I got the “No Connection” error. I am positive the battery door is locked at all times. I Tried removing the battery for 3 days and it still didn’t work. I guess the water leaked?? Can you help me out on how to fix this?

  • Policarpo salabarrieto says:

    The camera is bat, olympus stilus trough 8010, i used 50 weeks. olympus not responding

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