Olympus TG310 review: It's shockproof, waterproof and freezeproof, but for just £150 can we expect much more from the Olympus TG-310?
The Olympus TG310’s ‘life-proof’ compact category has welcomed many new members in the past couple of years – to the point where it’s more diverse than its ever been. Olympus has been at it longer than most, though, with its TOUGH series rising from the ashes of its former SW range, and a steady stream of models protected not just against water incursion, but also against freezing temperatures and accidental dropping, too. The Olympus TG310 looks to extend this legacy yet further…
The Olympus TG310 is one of three new releases in the company’s series, offering waterproof capabilities to a depth of 3m and freezeproofing down to -10°C, while it can also be dropped from a maximum height of 1.5m without any damage occurring. Olympus also claims to have made the TG310 resistant against scratches, but equal attention has been paid to what’s on the inside of the camera, to match its hard-wearing credentials with plenty of up-to-date functionality.
At the TG310’s heart lies a 14MP sensor, that, in addition to its stills functionality, is also capable of capturing 720p HD movies. The camera’s optic only covers a modest 3.6x optical zoom range, but it begins from a relatively wideangle 28mm-equivalent focal length, while Dual Image Stabilisation combines both sensor and ISO sensitivity shifting to combat blurring.
Behind the TG310’s sealed side door lies a battery compartment, as well as USB 2.0 and HDMI mini ports, plus a slot for SD, SDHC and SDXC media formats. The TG310 also boasts compatibility with Eye-Fi media for wireless transferring of images and videos.
Around the back of the TG310 there’s a 2.7in LCD screen with a 230k-dot resolution, and a range of controls which have all been sealed with a protective covering. These include a direct movie button and a ‘?’ button, the latter of which explains key functionality and guides novices through using the camera in different situations.
The Olympus TG310 is certainly one of the more attractive cameras of its kind, but the many exposed screws around its body lend it an almost industrial quality appearance to remind you of its capabilities. We expect some concessions for the sake of waterproofing, and while all the buttons are a little on the small side they nevertheless travel well when pressed. It’s only the zoom rocker which is slightly unresponsive behind its protective cover, which can become irritating if you tend to call upon it with some frequency.
The TG310 turns on in good time but takes an extra second or so to ready itself. It’s very quiet in operation, and when the focusing point is set to the centre of the frame the camera finds the subject quickly. When set to its iESP mode, however, the camera often misses the main subject, even if they’re obviously positioned in the middle.
There’s a lot to like about the Olympus TG310’s images, notably its metering system which is reliable and accurate, even when faced with large bright areas of sky where it only underexposes the main subject a touch. In good light the camera resolves a perfectly respectable level of detail for such a camera, but image noise accompanies every sensitivity setting in most shooting conditions. Colour noise, however, is confined to the higher settings, leaving images shot on lower sensitivities with just a smudgy, watercolour-like texture. Thankfully there’s only a slight amount of barrel distortion from the optic at wideangle, to the point where it largely goes unnoticed. Colour is also pleasing in good light, but the LCD screen is a little cold in its reproduction of the scene.
The Olympus TG310 performs to a satisfactory standard, and its images aren’t all too bad when its price is considered. The extra tough resistance against the elements and is certainly its key selling point – something we’ve not seen before at the well-considered price-point.