Olympus TG-3 Tough Camera Review

Olympus TG-3 Waterproof 16 MP Digital Camera

Grade: A
Teachers’ Comments: Takes great photos

I got the Olympus TG-3 Camera for my trip to the Sandals Resort in the Bahamas this past fall. I had a notion that I didn’t want to expose my Canon DSLR with its attendant lenses to beach sand, salt and water, and the waterproof TG-3 seemed like a good option.

I was pleased with the results from that trip, and the TG-3 has since found a permanent home in my golf bag. Its solid build means that I don’t need to worry about it banging about and the images it takes are absolutely terrific.

Here’s a sample TG-3 photo from that trip:

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The Olympus Tough TG-3 has 4x zoom, which is a 25 – 100 mm equivalent. I was concerned about the relatively short zoom, but in practice I’ve found that it’s plenty for the kind of landscape, cityscape and in-a-room snapshots that I typically take. If you plan on taking a lot of wildlife photos, however, look elsewhere. You’re never going to get close enough with a 4x zoom.

Along the zoom range, the F stops run from f2.0 – F4.9. The ISO on the Olympus TG-3 runs from 100 – 6,400. It takes terrific photos in daylight, I’ve been more than satisfied with its performance indoors, in low light and in shadows.

Cuisine Mode

The camera has a wide variety of shooting modes: HDR, panorama, snow for shooting in white surroundings), macro, Wide 1 (for underwater landscapes), Wide 2 (for underwater action), snapshot, Beach, documents, cuisine, fireworks, sunset, self-portrait (it focuses on your face for a selfie), indoor, sports, night portrait (for filling faces with an illuminated background), night scenes, hand held starlight (reducing blur while shooting in low light), interval shooting for time lapse, landscapes, and portrait. Image sizes are 4:3, 16:9, 3:2 and 1:1. There’s also a “super macro” microscope mode that I think takes terrific photos of flowers (and other plant life).

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The “Art Mode” of the camera shoots in dramatic tones, pop art, soft focus (nice for artsy portraits), pale and light color, grainy film, pin hole and tilt-shift (which makes images look like they’re miniature models).

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Dramatic Tones Mode

Aperature priority and program modes allow you to adjust most of the settings to your preference

The HDR mode is particularly useful for my purposes On tree lined fairways, it brings the areas in shadows into the clear, while not blowing out the light in the illuminated areas.

A feature that I like is how quickly it cycles up. Other than my DSLR, it is the fastest to “on” of any camera I’ve ever owned.

In keeping with the Olympus TG-3’s adventurous personality, it features a built in GPS and compass for geotagging photos.

There’s also a nifty wifi mode, with some smartphone software. The Wifi mode allows you to import camera photos to your smartphone (useful for Facebook and Twitter posts). It also lets you use your phone to remotely control the zoom, adjust ISO and white balance, select the shooting and drive modes, activate the self-timer, and even select the autofocus point and trip the shutter.

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A Night Shot

While I have thankfully not had the chance to actually test the Olympus TG-3’s toughness, the spec are reassuring. Olympus says that it waterproof to 50 feet (15m); freezeproof to 14°F (-10°C); shockproof to 7 feet (2.1m); and crushproof to 220 pounds of pressure (100kgf). It certainly feels substantial, while not being too heavy.

Ergonomically, it feels “just right” in my hand. Some of the other waterproof-tough cameras I tested came in strange shapes that I knew I would have trouble adjusting to. The TG-3 fits comfortably in one hand, and slips neatly into a pocket.

My only complaint about the camera is that it doesn’t take pictures in RAW format. It seems to me that it should not be that difficult for Olympus to issue a software update that allows the TG-3 to store the RAW data along with the jpegs. After all, digital cameras actually SHOOT in RAW and then convert to JPG.

If Olympus issued such an update, I would rate the TG-3 an A+ and declare it to be the perfect camera for your adventures.

A few more example photos are below:

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