Olympus TG 820..one camera not to buy

One of our blog reader recently lamented that he is not subscriber to the SJ magazine because we only feature positive reviews. I have no idea how he knows this if he is not a subscriber? Clairvoyant? I think not.

But he got me thinking. Yeah, he is right for the most part. I’ve had guys send me plugs for a review (unsolicited) that looked like a 5 years old made them. Would they catch fish? Probably. Would they last more than a fish or two? It sure did not look like it to me. But I am not about to write a review, embarrassing this builder and calling his manhood in question either. What would be the point in that?

We all know that few years ago Korkers made a stupid, awful pair or wading boots that fell apart in saltwater. We also know that before that Korkers made a pair of stupid, awful replaceable soles that keep falling out of the shoes. And no one can deny that to this day they make stupid, awful soles on which studs fall out like crazy. You see a pattern here? Thankfully their new Chrome boots have been solid because they sure had a lot of product misses over the years.

Which brings me to meat and potatoes of today’s post, Olympus TG 820


I bought this camera a year ago and I have to say not only pictures but video quality is outstanding. I expected this from Olympus as I used their cameras over the years. Unlike my previous Olympus SW which were usually encased in the salt because they never left the pouch on my surf belt, this one had a little easier life. Because of tendinitis I did not fish much last year so I used the camera maybe dozen times. It still looks like is new.

I think I paid about $400 or so at Best Buy in Westbury last summer. 1080p was a big plus for me although I knew that auto focusing will be a  suspect. Which it was. No big deal, I expected that. Use you $2000 DSLR with a $10 000 lens and you will get the same crappy autofocus. It’s the nature of the beast. But DSLR does have manual option which Olympus Tough does not…but I am drifting away from the subject.

Ok, my previous camera was Olympus SW . I liked the fact that on the back they had a set of buttons for changing setting and another for playback and another for zoom.olympus-stylus-sw-850

When I bought the new TG stylus 820 that is the first thing I noticed. They eliminated all the buttons, zoom, setting, playback and replaced them all with a single toggle button. You try to change a setting with cold hands in November going through the menu after menu…But strangely enough I got used to it. I don’t like it but I did get used to it.olympus-tough-tg-820-03

The “new and improved” zoom toggle is now a plain stick of plastic on top of the camera replacing elegant electronic zoom they always had. Now they stuck a black piece of plastic  into the camera and you move it left to right to zoom or go wide.

Guess what, it’s a piece of stupid plastic. Mine jams all the time and then it crashes the camera. The camera will go black and wont function at all. You can toggle the zoom button all you want but only when it decides it want to work, it works. Most of the time it will be jammed to one side or anotherw3ee

Basically I now own  a 400 dollars piece of garbage camera on which warranty is expired. I’ve always been a been a fan of Olympus but I might look into another brand for my next camera purchase. Which won’t be for awhile since this TG820 is just about new and I can’t just piss another four hundred dollars away.

So if you see me at Montauk slamming the camera with a  rock, you will know why.

I like Olympus but I would not recommend that you purchase any camera they make with this kind of zoom toggle. It’s an outdated design and quite embarrassing to be featured in their lineup.

So there you go.. a review that is telling you what not to buy

How does this makes me feel ?


6 comments on “Olympus TG 820..one camera not to buy

  1. JohnP

    I understand the problem of negative reviews. Its not like movies where you can give it thumbs up or down, or stars.

    My own take is that there are plenty of products that are great, and this is a vehicle to tell others about them.

    I have purchased a boat load of products over the years that were garbage, but not sure its helpful to go on a rant about them. There’s more than enough good stuff that probably makes the cut, and works out very well.

  2. Jason Grib

    I made the move from a Stylus 1030 SW to a newer Olympus, but I went with the TG-810. The SW was a tank and lasted a long time before it started letting water inside. Had I been proactive in replacing seals I sure it would still be going strong. Unfortunately Olympus does not carry parts or service that camera any more. The SW got a big dent in the front on one of its first trips and still worked like mint.

    My biggest complaint with the TG series is also the lack of buttons that were replaced with the mini unjoystick. If they kept everything the same

    set it and forget it…

  3. nycsteve

    I’ve had an Olympus SW1030 for years and recently upgraded to an Olympus TG-2. The old camara works fine, though I wont submerge it more than a couple of feet anymore as I never changed the seals. I got the T-2 for the faster focus time. The button layout for camara function is pretty much identical to the SW1030. The TG-820 is crappy. But the TG-2 is every bit as good as the SW series, but faster. I got my TG-2 from Amazon for 350. I recomend it.

  4. TRisser

    I have been using an Olympus ST 6000 for about 8 years and it is a tank. It lives in my surf bag and has captured many great memories without fail. It is very basic and highly functional but they don’t make it anymore, so it’ll be said day when it does meet Davy Jones.

    While it is tough to write negative product reviews it is very valuable to subscribers and I appreciate it. There is a way to do it like this review that is not offensive to a manufacture and alerts people to why the product is coming up short of expectations. They do two things. One, it alerts the manufacture that they have an issue and need to innovate a solution to remain competitive. Two, it alerts readers about features (not just products) to avoid while make purchasing decisions. If all readers see are positive reviews it starts to call into question the credibility of the reviews. Thank you for the heads up on the zoom toggle issue on the newer Olympus cameras.

  5. George

    Z – Although a non-biased review is always welcome, I do understand why you would rather not post a review at all and simply post positive ones.

    Based on your review of the Tough series years ago, I purchased a TG-300 series and have been very satisfied. The only trouble I had with it was when my kids opened the battery compartment in the pool thinking it was the shutter button.

    Thank for ALL of your reviews.

  6. Big J

    My 820 is fine after years am smashig it up.
    Maybe you just need to clean out the zoom toggle.

    The zoom is about useless anyway, it is 5x optical? I can do the same thing buy extending my arm closer to the target.


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