Olympus TG-3 Waterproof 16 MP Digital Camera (Red)
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- 16 MP 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS sensor with sensor-shift image stabilization
- 25–100 mm equivalent F2.0 - F4.9 lens
- 5 FPS at 12M, up to 60 FPS at 3MP
- ISO 100-6400
- 1080 30p HD video (.MOV/H.264)
- 3" fixed LCD with 460,000 dots
- Shockproof to 7ft/2.1m
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High-Speed Ultra Bright f2.0 lens
From the Manufacturer
TOUGH GETS CONNECTED
Have you ever stopped and wished you had a WiFi-enabled camera that could handle extreme outdoor conditions and deliver spectacular high-resolution photos and smooth HD videos of your epic outdoor adventures, even in low light? If so, meet the Olympus Tough TG-3. It’s incredibly rugged, yet boasts a super-bright f2.0 4x zoom lens, sophisticated features like next-generation GPS, Interval Shooting and time-lapse movie options, four variable macro shooting modes, and system accessories that further expand its capabilities. This is the camera you take to places you never dared take a camera before.
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So Rugged We Call It “Lifeproof”
High-speed, Bright f2.0 Optics for Superb Low-light Shooting
Built-in Connectivity for Your “Smart” Lifestyle
(2) Electronic compass
(3) Air pressure/altitude
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(3) Air pressure/Water pressure
(4) Altitude/water depth
(5) Date and time
Get Creative with Interval Shooting and Time-lapse Movies
Get Up Close – Really Close!
Expand Your Rugged System with Useful Accessories
In-camera Special Effects – and Now Photo Story
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Now, as for the camera....the REAL reason you're reading this review! Since I got it in time, I had it in my hot little hands for the entire Maui trip. What better way to test something than a trial by fire! And water, but I'll get to that in a second. We were pretty active on this trip, and we went up cliffs, down waterfalls, out on the beach, and deep in the water, and this camera went with us everywhere. The scene modes are wonderful for an average photographer like myself. The macro function on this is stunning...and I mean incredibly so. I got some close-up shots of things like ants on flowers, and bees on lavender, where every hair and segmented joint comes up in clear detail.
This camera got banged up a little. Of course, you never ever want to TRY to test out the whole "shock resistant" claim, but there were a couple times when the camera got knocked around over some rough terrain while it was on my wrist. There are a couple scratches on the case, and some marks on the back display, but the lens perfect and the photo-taking ability never wavered.
For my own use, I would say that the underwater features of this camera really stood out. I love to be in the water, and the reefs around Maui are filled with colorful fish and corals and more than a few Honu. Go ahead, look that up. I'll wait. Back now? Great! Anyway, I wanted to capture some of those wonderful experience, and I have been disappointed in underwater cameras and cheap cases in the past. This camera blows the competition...er.....out of the water (I am SO sorry for that one). Seriously, this is the best entry-level camera I have ever seen for underwater shots. YOu have THREE different scene settings specifically for underwater use, all of which do a good job of preprocessing the white balance of the image to compensate for the blue. I was shooting in different conditions, from crystal clear to 5-foot visibility murky water, and the shots all came out well. A word of warning...turn the flash off in 90% of underwater circumstances. Since this is a standard "cheapie" flash, all it does is illuminate the floating motes between you and your subject, and nobody likes a picture of underwater snow. I spent most of my time using a couple scene modes (landscape, water scenes, sunset, & action), the auto mode, and Aperture Priority mode. I didn't get deeper into the camera settings than that. It's nice that you can switch frm 4:3 dimension to 16:9 and a few others with just the click of a button.
The battery life is good and long, but I'll caution you to have at least one more battery on most trips. When the battery icon goes down to one bar, you tend to not have long before you're done. Always smart to have a spare, and decent aftermarket spares are available here on Amazon (and those I DID get here!). I know it seems silly to review a camera's STRAP, but this one deserves a mention. No flimsy cord attaching camera to strap here! Olympus must really expect you to get some use out of this camera, because the strap is strong and well-secured to the camera body...NO chance of this bad boy coming loose.
I hate to say it, but there ARE some complaints. Not a lot, but these are worth noting:
First and possibly the most important: The LED display screen. Sure, the size is nice. And the image is sharp. But the actual glass screen....well, it stinks! Think early iphone. It scratches surprisingly (and depressingly) easy. My camera is now 3 weeks old, and I have a number of small scratches and chips on the rear display glass from a couple hikes where it was inconvenient to have the camera stowed in its neoprene case all the time. For a camera that was built to be rough and rugged, I did NOT expect this. I admit to being a little disappointed in Olympus for not catching this flaw. This certainly does not affect the camera's performance, but it's irritating to see and worth noting for this review.
Second, and possibly an operator error, but worth noting: the panoramic setting was terrible. I'm glad I know how to stitch in photoshop (ps, it's very easy and there are a lot of online tutorials for it!) because the internal panoramic stitching was just laughable in EVERY SINGLE shot I tried with that setting. And like an idiot, I kept trying.
I am giving this 4 stars because of the glass display issue. Yes, I do think it's that important. Everything else on this camera is great, and if that issue was fixed, this would be a 5-star review. Despite that problem, I would certainly recommend this camera to anyone looking for a good point-and-shoot...with the caution that you should also get a pack of clear display protectors. If they're not available yet, they certainly will be soon.
We used the camera upon its arrival and it initially acted up by not completely turning on. It would power up briefly then it seemed like the lens or sensor mechanism was stuck and would not fully operate or turn on. After a few attempts, it began to work.
We then left for our vacation, which is the reason we bought this specific item. During the trip the camera settings and picture quality either did not work or dramatically varied in performance between uses . For example, for a period of about 1 week a dark spot on all photos regardless of the light or settings appeared. That dark spot would come and go occasionally.
Also, the auto setting failed to work correctly. It does not change the iso setting to match the lighting, resulting in all photos being way too dark. This dramatically affects the ability to use the camera as it was described - it's not a point and shoot camera anymore.
We have contacted both amazon and Olympus and neither will let us return this camera, because it has been over a month since we received it. We are thoroughly disappointed in this item and the fact that we have very few good photos of our adventures in Costa Rica, thanks to this defective camera.
Update #2 12/14: The Olympus customer service rep says they haven't seen this before and gave me a service repair authorization (warranty repair but shipping on me). Amazon, generous as always, was willing to work with me but is out of stock, and may not be getting more in.
The problem looks like a firmware(image processor)issue to me because it occurs only in certain "modes". Unfortunately these include program and microscope so it seriously limits the usefulness of the camera.
I have a snorkeling trip set up for early January. Hopefully I can get the "repaired" camera back before then. I will update the review (and possibly the star rating) depending on my experience with customer service. One more star deducted for all these issues with a new camera, the uncertainty of getting it back, and my having to pay shipping to send it out. Previous experience with Oly customer service B- does not increase my confidence.
Original review 11/14: Solid waterproof compact with superb macro and more!
The TG-3 is my 6th waterproof camera, and I'm pretty excited to own it. The four stars I'm giving it is based on an early impression and I may upgrade that to five stars once I've owned it a bit longer, at least enough to shoot 500 to 1000 pics with it.
Lots of features including the innovative "microscope" (ultra-macro) with focus stacking and focus bracketing, panorama, HDR, GPS, compass, barometer/altimeter, "art" modes, "stereo" sound
Connectivity options including WiFi, HDMI, mini-USB.
Superb fit and finish! Feels very solid.
Gorgeous 3" screen.
Great layout of knobs, wheels and buttons - the best, in fact of any digital camera I've owned! Center-mounted lens less likely to be covered up by an errant finger.
On screen menu assistance - so no need to refer back to the manual all the time.
Option to add on conversion lenses, filters, a modified ring flash and more.
Above average image quality when compared to same category cameras from competing manufacturers. My first 100 or so images suggest that it's very good - better than I expected.
JPGs only - no raw (uncompressed) image option.
Video quality gets mixed reviews.
Limited (4x) optical zoom.
Limited control over aperture and shutter speed in some modes
No shutter-priority mode - a distinct disadvantage when shooting moving subjects in variable light (where settings may be driven by desire to avoid motion blur).
Lots of nooks and crannies to catch dirt, sand and salt
Hard to set camera down without laying it on lens ring or lcd. Scratch-prone screen according to some reviewers. Scratches are specifically excluded from the warranty. Glass cover in front of lens is minimally protected and may also be prone to scratches.
Manual (PDF on CD or via download from Olympus) provides a general description of the camera and features but not real depth of information.
Two doors double the risk of a leak: one for the battery and sd card, the other for charging cable, HDMI and mini usb.
Layout of buttons, wheels, and toggle may be less handy for lefties.
Small battery which, combined with the large screen may result in short life between charges. (Most reviewers don't think this is a problem).
No separate charger included - instead it is charged via the USB cable - ac adapter included.
Comments about the TG-3: Especially interesting to me were the macro capabilities of this camera, as the typical configuration of my full size digital camera in the field does not permit me to get very close up. The TG-3 is a wizard at image stitching technology - a technique used to generate panoramas, HDR (stacking the same image repeated with multiple different exposures to restore detail to deep shadows and bright highlights) and focus stacking (same image repeated with different focal planes - used to dramatically increase the sharpness of a close up subject front to back). My initial experiments with focus stacking - and focus bracketing - suggest that this feature works very well! (See examples following review).
This camera begs to be accessorized: extra batteries, charger, silicon skin, float strap, lens adapter with filters or conversion lenses, ring flash, etc. Plan on spending another $50 or more depending on what add-ons you will want. Starter accessories that I recommend are listed at the end of the review.
Waterproof point and shoots in general, and Olympus in particular: Although Olympus has been in the "ruggedized" waterproof point and shoot segment for quite a while my experience suggests not to count on it outliving its 12-month limited warranty (download the manual from Olympus for full warranty details: p. 109-10). My last camera in this category was also an Oly Tough Series model. I carried it in my life preserver for a 3-week kayaking trip down the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately its tendency to overexpose highlights severely limited its usefulness in the harsh desert light (and anywhere else on sunny days). It was better in overcast conditions but failed while I was snorkeling at a depth much less than its advertised tolerance. Oly did fix it under warranty but the process was neither seamless not friendly. Sony and Pentax cameras I've owned were much better with regards to highlight exposure. Time will tell if Olympus has improved in this regard - if not then hopefully the HDR mode will bail me out on occasion.
Conclusion / initial impression: this is the sixth waterproof point and shoot I've owned (Minolta, Sony, Pentax x2, Olympus, now x2) and in many ways hands down the nicest. It probably has more features than any other camera I've owned. I'm particularly excited about the microscope (macro) modes and many other features. A large screen and minimally protected lens make it vulnerable to scratches from sand and the like, but this is a camera worth taking good care of. It feels very solid and well designed but is not, of course without some design compromises.
Recommended starter accessories:
adapter/lens cover: Olympus CLA-T01 Conversion Lens Adapter for Olympus TG-1 & TG-2 (Red)
or: Fotasy FAT01 40.5mm Conversion Lens Adapter and Lens Cleaning Cloth Kit for Olympus Tough TG-1 TG-2 TG-3 iHS Camera and Olympus Pens LC-40.5 Front Lens Cap for Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Lens
Silicone sleeve which provides a secure grip and some protection for the screen: Olympus V600082XW000 TG-3 Silicone Camera Jacket CSCH-122 (Gray)
Class 10 SD card: SanDisk Extreme Plus 32GB UHS-1/U3 SDHC Memory Card Up To 80MB/s, Frustration-Free- SDSDXS-32GB-AFFP (Label May Change) The TG-3 supports SD, SDhc as well as the new SDxc standard, which will eventually include capacities up to 2 terabytes. Finest resolution is compressed to about 9MB - 3600 images on a 32GB card.
Olympus V600082XW000 TG-3 Silicone Camera Jacket CSCH-122 (Gray)
Image pairs posted to Flickr show comparison of macro shots without and with focus stacking to increase depth of field (focus front to back). All were taken indoors, without flash. Full resolution may be necessary to appreciate the difference. (flickr.com/photos/44983708@N00/sets/72157649640459672/)
Update#3: After half a year of use and maybe a thousand shutter clicks I can say that this camera is a disappointment. Most often it's poor focus issues, other times it's lackluster color, mediocre low-light performance, inappropriate metering, failure to switch menus, not recording pictures, etc. Therefore I find myself reaching for it less and less. I do hope that some of the more innovative features are picked up by cameras which offer more control, better reliability, and higher image quality.