Olympus has included a pretty impressive LCD with the TG-830 iHS, measuring 3.0 inches diagonally and offering a high resolution of 460,000 pixels. The video screen is sharp and bright, which is important while trying to use the camera underwater. The aspect ratio for the LCD screen is 3:2, which is a bit different from the 4:3 or 16:9 screen ratios on most cameras.
Olympus included five brightness settings with the TG-830's LCD screen, which can help to combat some of the glare problems you'll notice when using this camera in bright sunlight. Even though there's a bit of sun glare on this camera's screen, the LCD is of a high enough quality that you should be able to use it at the normal brightness setting when shooting outdoors most of the time.
The control buttons on the back of the TG-830 iHS are all silver in color, and the button labels are engraved in the buttons, rather than printed on them. Because there's little to no contrast in the labels on the buttons, they're difficult to see when the external lighting is good and almost impossible to see in a low light situation. So it'll pay dividends to commit to memory what each button can do.
The buttons are pretty small, which makes it tough to press them in an underwater photography situation. I'd like to see larger buttons with clearer labeling, but some of the design of the buttons likely was necessitated by the waterproof design of the TG-830 iHS.
Olympus did include a mode dial with this camera. Even though it's pretty small, it works well. Again the labeling could be better -- light gray on a dark gray background just doesn't offer enough contrast for my liking -- but this is a handy feature that you don't often find on cameras in this price range.
Above the mode dial is the zoom switch, which you'll operate using your right thumb. Although most fixed lens cameras currently on the market have a zoom ring around the shutter button, Olympus seems to use this design of a zoom switch on the back panel of the camera more than other manufacturers. I prefer the zoom ring, but it shouldn't take very long to learn to precisely use the zoom switch type of design, either.
Just below the mode dial to the left is the Playback button, where the label is pretty tough to see, as you can tell from the photo above.
The four-way button's cross-shaped design looks good and is a bit more functional than the round four-way buttons on other cameras. The top of the cross controls the look of the display, the right part of the cross opens the flash menu, the bottom of the cross opens the self-timer menu, and the left part of the cross opens the popup menu. The middle of the four-way button has the OK button.
The last button along the bottom of the panel is the Menu button, which opens the various shooting menu screens and the setup menu screen.
The biggest danger to the integrity of a waterproof camera case is the areas where the case opens to allow access to the battery compartment and the I/O ports. Olympus has included two compartments with the TG-830 iHS, both of which feature a double-locking mechanism to protect the camera's interior components from any leakage of water.
The lock on the bottom panel of the camera (shown on the left) protects the USB and HDMI ports. First slide the switch on the bottom side of the "L" to the right and then slide the switch on the upper part of the "L" downward to open the compartment. When the switches are open, you'll see an orange colored background; when the switches are locked, the background will be black.
The lock on the right-hand panel of the camera (shown in the right image above) protects the battery and memory card compartment. To open the compartment you first twist the silver lock to the left and then slide the black switch downward.
To lock both compartments, you just reverse the order in which you activated the switches.
The TG-830 iHS includes both a USB port and an HDMI port behind the locked compartment on the bottom of the camera. This camera can shoot movies at a full HD resolution, so the inclusion of an HDMI port is a good touch, especially for a camera in this price range.
Unlike many cameras on the market right now, the TG-830 iHS has the memory card and battery slots in the right-hand compartment of the camera. Most cameras use the bottom panel compartment to store the memory card and battery.
This camera can use any type of SD memory card. The TG-830's battery is a good size, and Olympus estimates that the camera can record up to 300 photos on a single charge. My tests showed that number to be pretty high, maybe 15% to 25% above what you could expect under normal working conditions. The battery will drain more quickly if you use the LED illumination light or the GPS unit more often.
Unfortunately Olympus didn't choose to include a separate battery charger with this camera, which means the only way to charge the battery is through a USB connection between the adapter and the camera. This means that you can't use the camera with one battery while a second battery is charging. If you choose to use two batteries, they'd both have to be fully charged before you start your long photography session.
The TG-830 has a very solid feel, which is what you'd expect with a tough, waterproof camera. Olympus has included several tough features with this camera, including:
- Shockproof to 7 feet
- Waterproof to 33 feet
- Freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit
- Crushproof to 220 pounds of force