Olympus TG-870 Tough Review

REVIEW SUMMARY

Specifications

  • 16 megapixel backlit 1/2.3” CMOS sensor
  • 21mm-105mm (equivalent) ultra wide lens with 5x optical zoom
  • Maximum aperture f/3.5-f/5.7
  • Shutter speed 4 sec. To 1/2000
  • ISO range 125-6400
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • Burst shooting up to 7 fps (20 fps at reduced resolution)
  • Waterproof to 50 feet (15m)
  • Shockproof to 7 feet (2.1m)
  • Crushproof to 220lbf (100kgf)
  • Freezeproof to 14 degrees F (-10 C)
  • Dustproof
  • 180 degree 3” tilting LCD
  • 1080p HD video at 60 fps
  • Wi-fi
  • GPS
  • Li-ion battery rated at 300 photos or 90 min. video (max recording time for one clip 29 minutes)
  • Weights 7.8 oz. (221g)
  • Release Date: 2016-03-24
  • Final Grade: 83 4.15 Star Rating: Recommended

Olympus TG-870 Cons

  • Lower quality lens
  • Motion blur shooting indoors
  • Grainy video

Olympus TG-870 Pros

  • Excellent construction
  • Tilting LCD screen
  • Good speed for the price
  • Waterproof to 50 feet

Body & Design 23 of 25
  Portability 5 of 5
  Layout 5 of 5
  Controls 4 of 5
  Navigation 4 of 5
  Extra Features 5 of 5
   
User Experience &
Performance
21 of 25
  Modes 4 of 5
  Speed 4 of 5
  Autofocus 4 of 5
  Versatility 4 of 5
  Ease of Use 5 of 5
   
Image Quality 14 of 25
  Color & White Balance 4 of 5
  Sharpness & Detail 3 of 5
  Noise Reduction 2 of 5
  Low Light Performance 2 of 5
  Video Quality 3 of 5
   
Value For Money 25 of 25

WHERE TO BUY


Olympus TG-870 offers durability on a budget
With a few minor updates, the Olympus TG-870 is a good waterproof option at a lower price point.
By Hillary Grigonis, Last updated on: 5/8/2016

Cheap cameras are notorious for being, well, cheap. But can a budget camera that's also waterproof and crushproof break that mold?

The Olympus TG-870 Tough is a more budget-friendly version of our top recommended waterproof, the TG-4. Despite selling for under $300, the TG-870 still lives up to that Tough name with the same 50 foot waterproof rating and a seven foot drop rating as the TG-4. What's more, the TG-870 actually has a better burst speed and a tilting LCD screen. But, the TG-870 doesn't have the same lens as the TG-4—which is going to have a dramatic impact on the image quality.

So, is the TG-870 tough enough? I headed out for a round of Olympus TG-870 review real-world testing to find out.

Olympus TG-870 Review: Body & Design

The TG-870 may be a budget camera, but it certainly doesn't feel like a budget camera. Much of the camera is actually metallic, and the plastic portions are thick and textured. Despite the extra layers of protection, the TG-870 is still fairly slim considering, at just over an inch deep.

Olympus TG-870 Review

One of the TG-870's biggest perks is a tilting LCD screen, which isn't as easy to find for a waterproof camera. The screen tilts on a hinge system, and while some tilt screens feel rather flimsy, this tilt screen doesn't look like it's going to snap off with a small drop. The design also allows the screen to do a 180 for selfies, and there's even a shutter release on the front of the camera for the selfie-lovers.

Next to the LCD screen, the TG-870 has a small rubberized thumb grip, and the record button for video sits right on top of that. Underneath is a low-profile mode dial that's a bit harder to turn compared to the larger controls, but that smaller size it going to keep the dial from chipping off in a fall. The menu and playback controls at the back offer shortcuts for the display style, flash and burst mode or timer.

Olympus TG-870 Review

The top of the camera has very few controls inside that low profile—there's a small on/off button, the shutter release and a zoom toggle.

On the right side, there's a double-lock chamber to access the battery and memory card. The flip lock and switch helps seal out moisture, as well as prevent accidental opening during a fall. On the opposite side, there's actually a second tripod screw mount, in addition to the one on the bottom of the camera. While unusual, the TG-870 includes a sport mode for using the camera much like you'd mount and shoot with a GoPro, and that's likely why that second mount spot was included.

Navigating through the settings is fairly simple, despite the relatively few physical controls. Using the flash or burst shortcut will get you inside the quick menu, which also includes the color profile, exposure compensation, white balance, ISO, resolution, aspect ratio, and video resolution. For options not included in that quick menu, the full menu isn't too cumbersome to access for options like metering and focus modes.

Like other Olympus models, the camera includes a QR code for quick wi-fi set-ups. And once you pair the camera with another device, you don't have to do it again. The Olympus app allows you to remotely control the camera, as well as wirelessly transferring files.

The design of the Olympus TG-870 leaves nothing to complain about. Sure, some of the controls are a bit tough to use, but that's to boost depth and drop ratings, and the tradeoff is well worth the slimmer controls.

Olympus TG-870 Review: User Experience & Performance

The TG-870 includes a solid array of modes, though doesn't include manual modes outside of programmed auto. Along with the usual selection of scene modes like landscape and portrait, the TG-870 has four different underwater modes, backlight DHR, interval shooting and live composite modes. The mode dial is also home to art modes, a super macro, intelligent auto, selfie and panorama. There's also a sport mode that allows the camera to function a bit more like a mountable camcorder, with the top shutter release being used for video and the front one for photos.

The speed on the TG-870 is pretty surprising, considering the lower price point. Single shots were about half a second apart, including autofocus time. The burst speed is 7 fps, though at that speed, you're limited to just one second at a time. After about three seconds, I could take another burst set of about five photos, so the recycle time is decent. Reducing the speed to 2.5 fps allows you to shoot up to 200 photos without a break. The camera is also quick to start up, taking about one second to power up and take a photo.

Like other Olympus cameras, the TG-870 has an excellent macro mode. I had little trouble with the autofocus in super macro mode, despite getting pretty close to a few subjects.

The autofocus in general performed pretty well for the category, though I had a small percent of shots that didn't correctly focus. The focal point in the spot focus mode is limited to just the center, but the ISP and tracking focus modes will select a subject that's off center. Tracking autofocus wasn't as effective as I'd like, but didn't do too bad.

Considering the TG-870 is a more budget-friendly model, the camera has pretty decent performance. A lot of less expensive cameras will have horrible burst speeds and slow autofocus, but the TG-870 held up pretty well, and also has excellent macro performance. The tracking autofocus isn't the best when used in limited light, but overall the TG-870 performed pretty well.

Olympus TG-870 Review: Image Quality

The Olympus TG-870 uses the same sensor that's in the TG-4. The size is your typical compact 1/2.3” sensor, but it's backlight and with a respectable 16 megapixel count.

Color reproduction is good. I was surprised by how well the camera exposed the sky to a nice crisp blue in iAuto, though that left the shadows a bit dark.

Detail and sharpness is okay—not excellent, not bad. Except for a few photos that were out of focus, the lines were fairly sharp, considering the price and category of the TG-870.

Outdoors, the TG-870 can measure up to any $300 camera, but indoors is a different story. While the TG-870 has the same sensor as the more expensive TG-4, it doesn't have the same bright lens, and that really becomes apparent when shooting in low light. Movement indoors is likely to blur, though the five-axis image stabilization helps prevent camera shake when shooting a still subject

Noise reduction isn't the best in class either, so even with still subjects, you're likely to notice a bit of grain sooner than you might with other cameras. Noise becomes fairly obvious at ISO 800, especially when zooming or cropping.

Olympus TG-870 Review Olympus TG-870 Review Olympus TG-870 Review  
ISO 200 ISO 400 ISO 800  
Olympus TG-870 Review Olympus TG-870 Review    
ISO 3200 ISO 6400    

That narrower lens may also be a contributing factor behind the red lens flare that I noticed in one shot—it's easy to fix if you notice the flare as you are shooting by adjusting the angle of the camera to the sun.

The video quality on the TG-870 is decent outdoors, but indoors you'll notice quite a bit of grain. There's also a bit of noise when zooming, though you likely won't notice it when there's other noise in the video.

Image quality on the TG-870 holds up outside, but the lower price tag starts to show when you head indoors with some grain and blur in limited lighting. That's not unusual for a compact that's entry-level in features, but a big factor when comparing different cameras.

Olympus TG-870 Review: Sample Images

Olympus TG-870 Review

Olympus TG-870 Review

Olympus TG-870 Review

Olympus TG-870 Review

Olympus TG-870 Review

Olympus TG-870 Review

Olympus TG-870 Review

Olympus TG-870 Review

Olympus TG-870 Review: Conclusion

The Olympus TG-870 is the manufacturer's budget option for waterproof cameras, but it certainly doesn't feel like a budget camera. The construction and quality is excellent and the TG-870 feels nice in your hands. The tilting LCD screen is excellent, and hard to find in the waterproof category. The speed and performance is sufficient and thankfully not cut back too severely to keep the price low.

The waterproof category is pretty competitive, and our top pick is actually another Olympus, the TG-4, because it has a much brighter lens that will do better in low light and when diving down farther from the sun. The Ricoh WG-5 also has a brighter lens, but a poor burst speed at just 1.5 fps. The Nikon AW130 is likely the closest competitor with a similar price point, but does offer a better lens and a 100 foot waterproof rating, though without that tilt screen. The Canon D30 is more expensive, slower and also doesn't have a very bright lens.

The Olympus TG-870 is a good option for an outdoor camera that can withstand water, drops and dust. The imaging capability is enough for taking snapshots by the pool, sightseeing and even diving down into the deep end. But, the lower quality lens becomes apparent when you head indoors (or put fifty feet of water between you and the sun). While a solidly built camera with good performance, consumers looking for a camera they can take both out by the pool and inside will want to wait until they can save up the extra $75 bucks for the TG-4 with the brighter lens to help prevent blur indoors, or consider the similarly priced AW130.


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COMMENTS, QUESTIONS, & ANSWERS FORUM BY VIEWERS AND EDITORS

5 comments
Add Comment
  • Picture
    Freedom Run

    Oops forgot to include my most important question: For thee waterproof cameras, how do you care for your lens? how to prevent or treat limescale build-up? How to wipe after water exposure? Etc.. Thank you.

    Reply about 2 months ago
    • Thumb 45 ai hillary 45x45
      Hillary Grigonis

      Hi Again! Olympus includes some great info here: http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/ut_waterproof. The main thing is that you need to rinse in clean water after taking it in salt water or other scenarios where the water isn't fresh from the faucet clean, like a lake or river. That and make sure everything dries before you take out the battery or SD card. Hope that helps!

      Reply about 1 month ago
  • Picture
    Freedom Run

    Hi. Great info. I especially like your test-photos, it is very informative. How would you compare the Image Quality of this camera to the TG-4 Tough camera?

    Reply about 2 months ago
    • Thumb 45 ai hillary 45x45
      Hillary Grigonis

      Hello, thanks for your comments! We have not been able to get a review model of the TG-4 yet, so we can't directly compare the image quality of the two. But, just looking at the specs, the TG-4 has a much brighter lens. If you are planning on going deep underwater (where there is less light) or shooting indoors, the TG-4's brighter lens will do a much better job. The underwater photo above was taken in a shallow puddle and it's a bit dark already, the brighter lens would be able to handle the limited light a bit better.

      Reply about 1 month ago
  • Picture
    Freedom Run

    Thanks for reviewing this piece. Got to say that the image height-width ratio look plain ugly. It would fit nowhere. Sorry.

    Reply 3 months ago

Olympus Reviews

Olympus is a long-time camera manufacturer, but lately they've been offering innovative, compact imaging options that are well worth a look. While Olympus doesn't have a camera in every category like Nikon or Sony, their focus on the cameras they offer shows.

Olympus' main, and best, cameras are their mirrorless line. The OM-D line offers mirrorless cameras that rival professional results while their PEN options offer the most portability and affordability. Most of their mirrorless cameras have simple, retro designs that work really well. Their kit lenses are often a bit higher quality than most. The Olympus mirrorless cameras we've been able to test have shown excellent image quality and usability.

While most of Olympus' focus seems to be on their excellent mirrorless line, we haven't been disappointed with any of their compacts we've put through our tests either. The TG-3 and TG-4 are among the best waterproof compacts on the market. And when we put the super zoom SP-100 to the test, we were quite happy with the image quality and performance.

Olympus may not have a camera in each and every category, but they've really put a lot into their existing cameras, making them excellent options.

We here at Digital Camera HQ offer unbiased, informative reviews and recommendations to guide you to the right camera. We're not an actual store; we're just here to help you find the perfect camera at the best price possible by using our camera grades. Let us know if you have any problems or questions, we're happy to help.