DigitalCameraReview.com
Olympus TG-3: Best Rugged Camera on the Market
by DCR Staff -  5/20/2014

It is no secret that I loved the Olympus TG-2 iHS. I've written numerous articles about its macro abilities and its overall usability. So, when the Olympus TG-3 was announced almost 2 months ago, I was naturally excited to see the newest advances in technology for this camera. But does the TG-3 live up to the lovefest I gave the TG-2? Heck yeah and maybe more!

Intro

It's also no secret that the rugged camera market leaves a lot to be desired. Most brands have neglected this category for their larger, more expensive lineups. But the introduction of the TG-2 changed the game and altered the way I measured all other rugged cameras.

The TG-3 offers a 16-MP BSI CMOS sensor. It has an f2.0 aperture at its widest angle (25mm). The aperture extends to 4.9 at its most telephoto length (100mm). The TG-3 is freezeproof to -10℃ (14°F), waterproof to 50 feet (15 m), shockproof from seven feet (2.1 m), crushproof to 220 pounds (100 kgf) and dustproof. Trust me; this camera can handle the elements. However, that's not even the best part of the camera.

Macro

This camera has an advanced macro capability that blows everyone else out of the water (pun intended). Emerging from the macro technology in the TG-2, the TG-3 not only offers near-microscopic capture, but also introduces a new focus stacking function. This function captures eight images continuously and combines them to produce an image with greater depth of field. All of this is done in-camera and requires no additional work from the user. Also, there is also a focus bracketing function that takes eight continuous images, but the camera saves them all and allows the user to edit them in post production.

Without Focus Stacking

With Focus Stacking

The TG-3 not only excels in the macro category, but also has a super fun high speed video recording mode of 240 fps that couldn't be more entertaining. High speed video records in 720p. 1080p is also available for traditional video.

Fish-Eye

One of the coolest things about the TG-3 is the additional attachments that you can purchase for the camera. Olympus offers a tele converter lens attachment, a fish-eye lens attachment and a ring light. These attachments make the camera even more versatile than it started. I was given the opportunity to test these attachments and I am thrilled. Shown below are some examples of the fish-eye lens attachment. I never thought I would love the fish-eye lens as much as I do. It is so fun to use.

With Fish-Eye

Without Fish-Eye

Ring Light

The ring light is great for capturing detail in macro and traditional photography. Shown below are a few examples of images taken with the ring light. I can't wait to try this ring light with my snowflake photography this winter. It's going to make my snowflake pictures sharper than ever!

Built-in Wi-Fi makes sharing pictures both quick and easy. I just downloaded the OI.Share app onto my iPhone (also works on Android), went through the set-up process, and started transferring my images to my phone immediately. The whole time I was in New Orleans testing the camera I never once downloaded to a computer. I sent the images straight to my iPhone and iPad.  

The camera has undergone some minor changes in button style and texture. These minor changes are welcomed. The zoom switch has a new home at the top of the camera. The toggle is ribbed which creates a better grip when shooting. The on/off switch also has a texturized feel making it easier to turn on when under water.  A new thumb grip makes holding the camera just a bit easier. Finally, the finger rail was given a slightly rougher texture also making it easier to hold. One other small change was in the icon used for the macro mode. The flower icon has now been replaces with a microscope icon. As an avid TG-2 user this took a minute to get used to, but new users will have no trouble with the change.

By far, the TG-3 is the best rugged camera on the market. The LCD screen is sharp, the images come out with great color and good clarity, and the camera is very easy to use. The macro mode is stellar, the high speed video is fun, and the camera attachments cannot found in any other rugged brand.

The TG-3 will be available in June for about $350.

Additional Sample Images