Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Review of Olympus Stylus TG-3 Tough

Is there still a need to buy a compact point-and-shoot (P&S) camera nowadays, esp. when this sector is being attacked from below by mobile phones and above by small mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC)?  In my opinion, the only reason to buy a P&S nowadays is to buy those which can survive harsh conditions like underwater.  I bought the Olympus Stylus TG-3 Tough precisely for this reason.

After playing with it for a short while, below are some initial thoughts on this camera.  I am going to start with the cons first, and yes, I know that many of them are actually "unreasonable".  But I can dream, no? ;)

  • Lousy ergonomics, esp. atrocious zoom lever.
  • Putting on a tripod quick release plate will block the battery/card compartment.
  • No RAW support.
  • No manual and speed priority exposure modes.
  • No viewfinder.
  • No blown out highlights warning i.e. blinkies.
  • Variable maximum aperture: f/2.0 to 4.9.
  • Only up to 99 frames and shortest Interval Time of 1s in Interval Shooting. 
  • Even when Interval Time is 1s, actual interval will be 2-3s which is a mystery to me.  Initially I suspected Start Waiting Time, but this happened even after setting it to 0s.  So either the clock is crazy, or the delay is due to some processing in camera.
  • No hot shoe for mounting external flash and other accessories.
  • Low resolution for high speed video.
  • Cannot do photo story using existing images.
  • No focus tracking during sequential shooting.
  • No bulb mode.
  • No flash exposure compensation.
  • No front lens cap.
  • LCD not articulated.
  • GPS tracking logs not readable by Adobe Lightroom.
  • No manual focus, though can simulate it using AFL (focus lock) in Microscope mode, or Snapshot, Wide 1, and Macro in SCN mode.  
  • Can connect accessories such as LED light guide, filters, fisheye lens, and teleconverter. 
  • Focus stacking.
  • Built-in flash and LED light.
  • Custom mode to store settings.
  • Able to store home and travel destination time zones.
Looking at the lists above, you might wonder why I bought the camera in the first place if there are so many cons versus pros.  Well, as mentioned earlier, a lot of cons are actually unreasonable expectations for this class of camera.  Similar cameras from other brands can be even worse.  There are also a lot of pros that I never mentioned but are the fundamental reasons for buying this camera e.g. waterproof. 

To sum up, if you are looking for a camera that can withstand the elements yet you are not willing to pay too much or carry too heavy or bulky a setup, you should consider the Olympus Stylus TG-3 Tough, esp. if you are into more advanced stuff e.g. focus stacking, time-lapse, use of circular polarizer, etc.  I am looking forward to bringing this camera to Iceland and Norway next month as a backup camera, and if it performs well, I may well use it as the main camera for non-photographic trips henceforth.

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