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Olympus Tough-8000 Digital Trail Camera - Off-Road Ready Camera

Posted in Product Reviews on July 1, 2009
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This thing is small. At 3 3/4 x 2 1/2 x 7/8 inches it can easily fit in a pocket, a console, door pocket or cupholder. We were concerned about the small battery pack, but quickly found it would last us for at least a day's worth of shooting, and often it would go for two full days (200-250 shots).

There is nothing worse than missing a photo-op. We've all got these greatstories to tell and often have no pictures to go along with them. The problem is, being Jeep owners there just wasn't a decent camera that we could keep in the Jeep without fear of dirt, water, or the sensitive electronic components getting jostled around to the point of damage. Until now.

The Olympus Tough-8000 is a small, durable 12-megapixel camera that we have kept in our Jeeps for the last month and we can't imagine going anywhere without it now. Olympus claims that this camera is waterproof and shock proof (within limits)

We talked the manufacturer out of the camera for a couple of months and, true to Jp magazine form, we subjected it to shooting in sleet, rain, and snow storms, mud and water immersion, sandstorms with blackout conditions and even some beverages (accidentally, of course).

At the end of our testing, we are convinced this is the perfect camera to carry along in a Jeep anywhere you go. Its 12-megapixels impresses many people, but not all megapixels are the same. This is a camera with a $400 MSRP and while it takes good pictures, it still isn't an SLR. Clarity, color and focus in some instances suffer thanks to the little lens. However, stack it up against a similar-sized point-and-shoot and the picture quality is comparable and the features work very well for the Jeep person on the run.

We aren't going to lie: we were flat-out abusive to this thing. We'd toss it to people who were looking the other way and call their name after it was airborne, resulting in lots of missed catches. We tried skipping it like a flat stone (it skips really well), took pictures in rain, mud pits, and a hail storm (try that with a regular camera). We used it as the shop camera for a week while grinding, welding, and painting on one our old piles and simply rinsed it off when we got it dirty.

Overall, if you are shopping for a $300-$400 digital point-and-shoot camera for your Jeep trips, or just general use, this is the camera to get.

For old-school camera guys like us, some of the features of this camera take some time to get used to. There is an "auto" feature that automatically figures out what the subject matter is and adjusts mode, F-stop, aperture, and film speed. It does a good job with scenery and recognizing people's faces, but not so well with Jeeps on the move. We set the multi-shot to "on" for more rapid picture taking and the camera has a sensor that allows tapping on the edges to control functions. It comes in handy when hands are greasy and dirty.

Many small point-and-shoot cameras just don't take great pictures. A bigger lens means more light on the photo sensor which translates into a better picture. The Tough-8000 has a small lens, but it makes up for it with great processing and the end result is a good picture. Another neat software-related item is the on-camera panoramic stitching. Unlike other cameras where you just shoot 20-30 pictures and hope for the best, you can actually see what your panoramic shot is going to look like on the camera in real time and it does a good job of seamlessly stitching shots together.

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