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Waterproof and Dust Resistant: The Ryobi Tek4 Digital Camera Review

Waterproof and Dust Resistant: The Ryobi Tek4 Digital Camera Review

by Fred Fauth (email Fred) | | October 7, 2009 | 22 Comments »

Last June, Ryobi entered the market of small, lithium ion-powered tools with their Tek4 offering. And a big step it was… Ryobi’s latest collection of tools goes beyond the usual home improvement suspects, bringing 4-volt lithium ion technology and rugged, easy-on-the-hands feel to a range of interesting little gadgets. The whole line up can be seen at Ryobi’s Tek4 Site. The suite features 10 tools including a professional multimeter (that link has our review), a digital lock box, an infared thermometer, and–the subject of this review–a digital camera.

The Tek4 Concept: One 4V Battery Works For Everything

Most of the big tool brands offer a collection of large cordless tools (e.g., drill driver, circular saw, flashlight) that use interchangeable batteries. Ryobi’s Tek4 system takes this simple concept and applies it to the smaller tools that are traditionally powered by AA or AAA batteries. The line features a single, rechargeable 4V Li-ion cell that works in all 10 tools, is easy to swap out, and recharges quickly (with the optional fast charger). We think that’s a pretty good idea, especially since we’ve replaced the batteries in our old multimeter at least four times in the last 18 months. Ryobi claims a single 4V Tek4 battery can be recharged 2000 times, for a savings of more than 4000 AA batteries. Ryobi earns their green points for this set of products.

The Tek4 Digital Camera Review

ryobi-tek4-waterproof-digital-camera

About a month back, Ryobi contacted us and offered to ship us this digital camera for review. We were surprised to see a digital camera as part of Ryobi’s Tek4 offering… When we think Ryobi, the first, second… even tenth thing that comes to mind is definitely not digital camera. But this digital camera is different. It’s rugged and waterproof… It looks like something that belongs in a shop or garage rather than a camera you’d tote along to a sporting event. It appeals to the inner-home-improvement contractor in us. We liked the concept…

Here’s the highs and lows. Read on for the details…

  • The highs: Waterproof to one meter, dust-proof, rugged grip, great for work sites, takes video and you can add audio to a photograph, 1 GB SD card included.
  • The lows: No image stabilization makes motion pictures difficult, flash washes out pictures in large rooms. Pictures are grainier than I would have expected for the price; audio pickup is so-so.
  • Our take: A camera for contractors who need to get a job done, and for anyone else who needs a solidly-constructed, waterproof, dust-proof, digital camera; but not a replacement for a primary point-and-shoot camera.

Picture Quality Review

The Ryobi takes good pictures in outdoor daylight, and in bright indoor lighting. Picture quality is middle-of-the-pack when taking motion shots; and when needed, the flash has a tendency to hit only the center of the photo area rather than evenly lighting the whole room.

The target audience for the Tek4 camera is contractors and do-it-yourselfers who want the durability and robust construction of the Tek4 but aren’t concerned with breathtaking photography. For this audience, the Tek4 hits the target. In other words, this camera isn’t a replacement for a primary point-and-shoot camera you’d use to document the family’s vacation or take “after” shots of a renovation, but it’s good for keeping up with ongoing renovation projects and for anyone who needs a camera that can take a little bit of a beating, or go 3 feet underwater.

Video Features & Audio Footnotes

We took a few videos with the Tek4 and it did ok. Video quality is good; audio pick-up is so-so, probably due to the waterproofing. Video length is limited only by the available memory on the SD card. The audio footnote feature is great if you’re taking pictures and want to quickly add some notes to the photo for later review (again, appealing to our inner contractor). If you’re working on a complex problem and need to get some expert advice at another location, this camera would do the trick.

Zoom Length

3x Optical. Zoom speed is acceptable.

Waterproof and Rugged Construction

tek4-underwater-shot We consider the Tek4′s construction by far its best quality. The camera is waterproof to 1 meter and is also dust proof and easy to clean (if you get dirt on it you can simply wash it off in a sink… pretty cool). Grip feel is absolutely excellent. Buttons are rubber-coated and easy to depress. We had no trouble with buttons sticking.

We couldn’t resist taking the Tek4 camera to our local pool to verify Ryobi’s 1 meter claim. The camera passed the test; we even bounced it off the bottom of the pool a few times with no damage. And to prove it, there’s me over there on the right :-) The only issue we had was underwater focus: it took several shots to get a totally clear picture. Since this is the only underwater camera we’ve used, we’re not sure if the results are atypical.

Battery Life

  • 800 photos/charge (we didn’t verify this, but suspect it is a no-flash estimate);
  • 2000 charges/batttery (also not verified).

Battery takes about 5 hours to charge with the included charger; or you can buy the upgraded charger to get 36-minute quick charges.

Comes With?

  • 1G SD Card
  • USB Cable
  • AP4001 Battery
  • AP4700 Charger
  • Lanyard and Soft Case

Price

What do you think? Do you own the Tek4 camera? Weigh in below with your own experience!

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Conversation on This Article

22 Responses to Waterproof and Dust Resistant: The Ryobi Tek4 Digital Camera Review

  • Todd responds...
    October 7th, 2009 7:51 am

    Fred,

    Great review, the TEK4 products are great. I used to inspect bridges years ago in my career and this camera would be perfect for inspection crews. We used to destroy cameras because we were climbing around bridges, dropping them on concrete and getting them completely covered in dirt and grime.

    [Reply]

  • Tiffany @ NOH responds...
    October 7th, 2009 10:07 am

    That’s a great idea and I’m sure they will do really well with contractors who aren’t exactly nice to their equipment. Couple this with one of those rugged laptops and you’ve got your office on wheels.
    Thanks for sharing this great review!

    [Reply]

  • Baba responds...
    October 7th, 2009 11:11 am

    I don’t associate Ryobi with cameras either. Very interesting though.

    [Reply]

  • Fred responds...
    October 7th, 2009 7:40 pm

    @Todd – I think Ryobi designed this camera with that job in mind :-) Thanks for the feedback.

    @Tiffany – You’re welcome! Thanks for reading & commenting.

    [Reply]

  • Jeff R. responds...
    October 12th, 2009 8:28 am

    Thanks for the review of the Tek4 Durashot. I just found out about the camera yesterday looking at a sales flyer from Home Depot. I was surprised, to say the least!
    Could you post additional photos from it? I am into digicams and am always interested in ones that are a little different from the pack.
    If you can’t post here, then maybe you could email me a couple?

    You think Ryobi could send me a review copy of the camera? I would love to write up my comments on using it and putting it on my web blog and on flickr.

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  • Fred responds...
    October 13th, 2009 12:03 am

    @ Jeff,

    We’ll try to get a post up with some additional photos sometime in the next week or two. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Fred

    [Reply]

  • Todd B. responds...
    October 29th, 2009 9:38 am

    I got this camera used from a site on Ebay. I got it for my kid to use, he breaks all of MY good cameras, we have had it for about a month and suprisingly it still works. it has been dropped repeatedly and tested in the school pool. according to him it works great and the pictures are good enough for internet sharing and medium print outs like 5×7 size. I did get the speed charger and that makes a good add on. he plans to use it a lot snow boarding. which claimed 2 of my cameras last year. so I think this will work out great. this camera may have been inteneded for contarctors but it also makes a great durable camera for active children. a bit pricey but you will only buy one camera not several. hope this review helps.

    [Reply]

  • Jeff R responds...
    October 29th, 2009 12:38 pm

    Still haven’t really seen any shots taken with this camera, not counting the underwater shot above. Can someone post some outdoor or indoor shots taken with this camera on flickr or somewhere else?

    [Reply]

  • Andrea responds...
    November 9th, 2009 7:02 pm

    I just got this camera, and love it; however, the audio is very low…even when I upload it to the computer. Anyone know how to adjust (if you can) the volume?

    [Reply]

  • Turvil47 responds...
    November 13th, 2009 9:32 am

    I’m evaluating this camera to replace canon. Work site is dirty, cold, wet – not submerged – “fat finger” users. We shoot detailed auto pics for Internet auction. Variable light conditions from near dark to high illumination in shed. First eval had major problems with aut0focus, user had difficulty getting used to shutter position, even though its more ergo than typical ‘on top’ buttons. The lack of a final confirm question ‘Do you really want to do that?’ on the Delete all option cost us 4 hours work the first time. The delete all or format chip option should not be so easy to get to, certainly not adjacent to the ‘delete current’ option. Working with new eval, battery life is not 5 hours – more like 2-3. Could really use higher power zoom to get odometer and dash cluster from outside the car.

    [Reply]

  • tony responds...
    January 19th, 2010 2:14 am

    Does the Ryobi camera have a date and time stamp capability ? If it does then i think this would be an excellent choice for my home inspection business.

    [Reply]

  • Stephane responds...
    February 25th, 2010 10:39 pm

    Well i’m kind of suprise of the camera positive reaction.I’m a busy Canadian Inspector and i did love the fact that this camera was solid and seemed in a proper professional type.Although the images are terrible.There is no anti mouvement or what so ever they called it. You want to zoom in and don’t even think about shaking your arm.The brightness … i don’t know if it’s the way my camera is programed but it’s way to bright !! I can’t even see the detail like a foundation crack because the picture taste is way to bright.I feel that this camera looks solid has a rock but has a very small heart. I will give it to my kids for fun!

    [Reply]

  • Stephane responds...
    February 25th, 2010 10:43 pm

    Ho and yes Tony it has a date and time stamp capability that’s probably the only good thing. Send me your adress i am giving it away ! haha !

    [Reply]

  • Jeff responds...
    March 15th, 2010 4:25 pm

    Got the Ryobi Digital Camera brand new on Ebay for $110 with FREE SHIPPING. At first I did not think that it worked. I could not get it to power up. However I found out you have to hold the on button for a good 6-7 seconds to turn it on or off. Is this normal? Also can hardly hear the audio. Is there a volume adjustment? Overall for $110 I cannot complain. It is what it is. Takes decent pictures and is durable. Not for pictures you want to enter in a photo contest but good enough for most point and shoot situations. Waterproof, shockproof “I have kids”, dust proof,and a REAL battery for $110 brand new. I cant complain too much. Should fair well for my camping trips and construction jobs.

    [Reply]

  • phil responds...
    May 30th, 2010 8:26 pm

    Camera worked great for six months. It was never abused then today the lens got stuck now the motor grinds. This camera still has the brand new screen plastic on it. I threw away the receipt. I will try tomorrow to exchange it

    [Reply]

  • [...] rather, just an account of my own initial experiences using this camera. (A good, professional review of the Durashot was done about a year ago, by the folks at One Project [...]

  • vince responds...
    April 12th, 2011 11:43 am

    can any one tell me where i can find this ryobi tek camera the home depot isent carring it any more

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hey Vince, I can’t find it for sale either. I’ve emailed my Ryobi contact and hopefully will have a better answer soon.

    [Reply]

  • Ethan responds...
    April 27th, 2011 9:27 am

    Hey Vince, Just learned that this version is out of stock as Ryobi prepares the next generation. There are a few in stores, but it varies by market.

    [Reply]

  • john senn responds...
    December 31st, 2011 1:41 pm

    when?!!!! you’re answer was very elusive Ethan, i have one and need another. As a roofing contractor the one I have does the job of faling off roofs, landing in puddles and thrown around the inside of a JOB BOX without repercusion! I need one now!!!! Please email me before I waste my money elsewhere.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    John, there’s a few other rugged camera options out there besides this one. Google came up with this: http://www.pcworld.com/article/189765/six_tough_rugged_cameras.html

    [Reply]

  • HANDYMAN51 responds...
    February 25th, 2012 10:06 pm

    Features make this look like a good camera to toss in a soft fishing tackle bag for the catch and release fisherman. Could also get some neat underwater shots at boatside! DIY folks deserve some ” play time”!

    [Reply]





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