Features & Controls

Olympus has released quite a few tough, waterproof cameras in the past several years, and all of them had a common lens design, with the lens housing that's contained entirely inside the camera body in the upper right corner of the camera body. This type of design is necessary for maintaining a seal in the camera body, ensuring that the TG-830 can remain waterproof. It also means that this camera always maintains its 1.1 inches of thickness, even when the zoom lens is fully extended.

However, this design means that the optical zoom measurement for these types of cameras is limited. The Olympus TG-830 iHS has only a 5x optical zoom measurement, which is an extremely small offering for a camera currently on the market. Even the smallest point-n-shoot models often offer a 10x optical zoom lens in today's marketplace. Obviously Olympus is hoping that the waterproof features in the TG-830 will make up for the limited zoom lens in the eyes of photographers.

The lens has a 35mm equivalent zoom measurement of 28 - 140 mm. One advantage to having a small optical zoom lens is that you can move through the entire 5x range in about 1 second. The TG-830's aperture range is limited, too, offering only F3.9 to F5.9.

The TG-830's focus range measurements are:

  • Normal: 7.9 in. (20 cm) to infinity (wide); 19.7 in. (50 cm) to infinity (tele)
  • Super Macro: 1.2 in. - 23.6 in. (3 cm - 60 cm) to infinity
The TG-830 has a pretty small 1/2.3-inch image sensor, which is a bit of a disappointment. It does offer 16 megapixels of resolution, and it's a CMOS image sensor, which helps this camera perform better in low light conditions, which will be helpful if you're shooting underwater with this model.

Flash LED wide view.jpg
Because it's designed as an underwater camera, this camera offers both a built-in flash unit and an LED light (the yellow light shown here to the right of the flash). Olympus was able to center the tiny flash on the camera body because of the off-center placement of the lens. It's easy to hold the camera without blocking the flash with your fingers.

Even though the flash is small, it does work pretty well. You may notice some hot spots in your flash photos as the flash is pretty powerful and cannot have its intensity adjusted.

Shot to shot delays when using the flash are very noticeable, which is pretty common with budget-priced cameras. The TG-830's flash range is:

  • Wide: 0.66 - 10.8 ft. (0.2 - 3.3 m)
  • Telephoto: 1.6 - 6.9 ft. (0.5 - 2.1 m)

Top buttons.jpg
Olympus didn't include many buttons on the top panel of this camera, which probably is a good idea for a waterproof camera. You don't want a lot of confusing buttons that you could press inadvertently when you're using the camera in a tough environment.

The power button is really small and it's depressed from the camera body, which means it's very unlikely that you'll press it accidentally. However, it also can be very tough to press it when you're in a hurry trying to shoot a spontaneous photo.

The shutter button is to the right of the power button, and it's a good size to use comfortably. However, Olympus choose not to encircle the shutter with a zoom ring, placing the zoom control on the back panel of the TG-830 instead.

On the far right of the top panel is the tiny movie recording button. You can record movies in any shooting mode by pressing this dedicated button, which starts and stops the recordings.

LCD view.jpg
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.

Back buttons.jpg
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.

Locks 2 view.jpg Locks 1 view.jpg

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.

USB HDMI ports.jpg
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.

Battery and SD card view.jpg
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

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