Olympus is our top recommendation for rugged cameras since the introduction of its TG-1. The TG-3 (349.99) adds a number of features to the TG-1, TG-2 and TG-3, such as Wi-Fi, a Microscope macro mode, which supports focus stacking in camera, and a strong Microscope macro mode. Although the 16-megapixel sensor produces more noise than 12-megapixel models before it, its wide aperture f/2 lens can capture a lot of light and allows you to keep it at an acceptable level. A unique accessory for macro illumination is also available: an LED light accessory. It is a worthy successor and our Editors Choice rugged compact camera.
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The TG-3 is similar to the other models. It does away with the corner lens design most compact cameras use. It places the lens in the center of the body like compact cameras. It's very pocket-friendly at just 2.6x4.4x1.2inches (HWD), and weighs in at only 8.7 ounces. This is par for the course for tough compacts—the Olympus Tough TG-850, which is a solid option if you're on a budget, is just a bit smaller and lighter at 2.5 by 4.3 by 1.1 inches and 7.7 ounces. You can get the TG-3 in red or black. We received a review unit in red. It's a great-looking camera.
Olympus can mount accessories around the TG-3 because of its central location. The bayonet mount system can be revealed by removing the beauty ring that surrounds the lens. To use 40.5mm threaded filter, you can attach a filter adapter. There are also converter lenses for fisheye (139.98), and telephoto (129.98).
The LED Light Guide (40.99) is a new accessory that can be used with both the TG-1 or TG-2. It redirects light from the macro LED near the flash to surround the lens. You can make full use of the TG-3’s macro abilities by using the illumination that is produced. It works in a similar way to a ring flash, such as the one from Photojojo.
This lens has a small 4x zoom and covers 25-100mm (full frame equivalent). It opens wide to f/2 at its broad end, which captures quite some light. However, the aperture narrows to f/4.9 when you zoom in. The TG-3 has a 1/2.3 inch image sensor, just like most compact cameras. Cameras with bigger sensors can be more effective in imaging. However, smaller sensors have an advantage for macro focusing.
Microscope mode on the TG-3 focuses almost to the front of protective lens covers. To take full advantage of the Microscope mode, set your mode dial to Microscope. The Microscope zooms in the lens up to 30mm. It also works at 100mm. Microscope can be enabled to focus on objects close enough to the lens. However, your depth of field will become very shallow when you get that close.
Focus Stacking can be enabled if you want more focus on your subject. This narrows the aperture, and allows you to take a series exposures at a different point in focus. These are combined into a single image, which captures more detail of your subject and stores it along with the original. This is a great trick but you need to use a tripod or have a steady hand to make it work.
Focus Bracketing also works in the same way, taking ten images at different focal points. It doesn't blend them together—you'll have to do that yourself in Photoshop—but if you choose not to blend, you can pick the image with the best focus point from the bunch to share with the world. Microscope Control mode is the final Microscope setting.
It's the same as the standard version but lists the max magnification at each zoom setting. When the camera is set to its 30mm position, it's a 2.9x factor, and at 100mm it's 11.1x—needless to say, the TG-3 is a great choice if you like to hone in on small details of our world.
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The majority of the TG-3’s controls can be found on the rear of the screen, just to the left of the LCD. However, there are a few located on the top of the plate. These controls include the shutter release and power buttons. A zoom rocker, which moves left-right to adjust the focal length, is also located on the top plate. You will find the record button for movies in the rear thumb rest. It is located directly above a flat dial mode.
The Info, Play and Menu buttons are also located on the rear. A four-way joypad is found at the center with an OK button, directional presses, and adjust Exposure compensation (Up), Flash out (Right) and Drive Mode/Self Timer (Down). You can quickly access the overlay menu on the left side of the rear LCD by pressing the link in the left direction.
There are many settings on the mode dial, in addition to Microscope mode. You can save your favourite settings with iAuto. If you're familiar with any compact camera, the Scene settings won't surprise you—there are preset settings to capture portraits, landscapes, panoramas, sports, snowy scenes, sunsets, fireworks, underwater scenes, and others.
The Interval mode is a feature that allows you to take a sequence of stills at a set time. This can be turned into a time lapse or saved as individual photos. You can set the number of frames and the time interval between them. The main menu also allows you to choose whether the camera will make them into movies. The main menu allows you to capture as many as 99 images per second, or for any length of time between one and 24 hours.
Olympus camera models all have the Art setting. This setting adjusts the output color to give photos a unique look. You can choose from a variety of filters, such as an oversaturated pop-art look, grainy black-and white film emulation and soft focus. There is also a mode which mimics a pinhole cam. A Diorama setting replicates tilt-shift effects that give real scenes the appearance of miniatures on a train model.
The Photo Story feature is very cool. The grid has three squares: a large vertical and small square crops, as well as a vertical. This allows you to capture 3 distinct images, then save them all together. You will get a custom-made square crop for Instagram. You don't have to use this arrangement. There are many other options and filters you can choose from.
You can adjust various shooting settings depending on which mode you have set. An overlay menu runs along the left side of your rear LCD. The most flexibility. You can adjust the output color (Vivid or Natural, Muted and Sparkle), flash output and exposure compensation. Aperture Priority is the only mode that's not limited. The f-stop is added to the control list. It allows you to set your aperture for wide open or closed. The camera has a minimum aperture setting of f/8 at its wide end, and f/18 for the telephoto extreme.
It measures 3 inches and has a resolution of 460k dots. Although it is smaller than the 610kot OLED display Olympus used for the TG-2, the LCD still provides sharp images that can be reviewed and framing. The display is bright enough to be used outdoors, but it's also able to be seen from a variety of angles without any issues.
When enabled, the integrated GPS adds location information to your photos. The lock on a signal takes about 30 seconds. It takes about 30 seconds to lock onto a signal.
Wi-Fi can also be integrated. You will need to manually pair your smartphone with the Olympus Image Share App. You can copy photos from your camera to your smartphone using the free app for Android and iOS. Live View streams live to your smartphone and allows you to adjust the focal length, ISO and exposure. You can also adjust white balance and adjust white balance. The app also lets you apply Art Filters to images after they've been captured, and also includes a location log function that you can use to geotag photos—but you won't need to utilize that feature if you enable the TG-3's in-camera GPS.
The TG-3 is rated to go as deep as 50 feet underwater, survive drops from heights of 7 feet, be crushed under 220 pounds of pressure, and operate in temperature as low as 14°F. It was not able to go as deep under water (the reviewer isn't skilled at swimming), but it survived a trip to the kitchen sink with dozens of drops and worked well after spending the night in the fridge. The two doors are double-locked and will prevent accidental opening underwater. The PT-056 Subwater Housing is available for those who need to travel further than 50 feet. It costs $299.99.
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It is very fast. The TG-3 can capture an image with in-focus in about 0.9 seconds, focus and fire in about 0.02 seconds, and shoots a continuous stream of 30 images at 5 frames per sec before it slows down. The TG-3 is capable of capturing 100 images at low resolutions, either 15 frames or 59.4 frames per sec. This allows you to shoot more quickly. Pentax WG-3 GPS is also equipped with an f/2 to 4.9 lens. It's slower. The Pentax WG-3 GPS takes 2.5 seconds to set up and focus, can fire at 1.4 frames per minute, and only takes 0.2 seconds for it to auto-focus.
Imatest was used to verify the sharpness of images taken with my TG-3 lens. It scores 25,mm f/2 at 2,045 lines per pic height in our center-weighted Sharpness Test, which is higher than the 1,800 lines that we consider a photo sharp. It has very soft edges (1,083 lines), as is normal for compact cameras at their widest angles. The middle third is slightly less, with 1,784 lines. The overall sharpness score is increased to 2,280 lines by narrowing the aperture to F/2.8.
However, the center third of the frame has more than 2,000 lines. This doesn't sharpen the edges. At the 50mm (or 2x) zoom, it delivers its best performance. Maximum aperture is f/3.2. The lens can resolve 2,001 lines. 1,800 lines are covered by the entire frame. The center-weighted score rises to 2,215 lines by stopping down to f/4.5 It's weakest at 100mm, with just 1,507 lines when the aperture is set to maximum f/4.9.
With a score of 2,330 lines, the Olympus Tough TG-850 just a little sharper at its broadest angle. Although it is sharp throughout the frame, its edges are weak and the 21mm f/3.5 lens captures half of the light captured by the TG-3's 25,mm f/2.
Imatest can also check for noise. Noise increases as a camera's light sensitivity is increased, which can be expressed numerically in ISO. Images can look grainy if there is too much. Noise reduction is a feature of compact digital cameras that helps to combat this problem. Too much noise can cause damage to detail. Noise can increase with pixel density. The 16-megapixel camera's image sensor packs smaller pixels in the same area as the 12-megapixel sensor of the TG-2.
This model has more noise. The TG-3 keeps noise below 1.5 percent in ISO 400 and up to 2 percent when it reaches ISO 800. A close examination of images taken with a calibrated NEC MultiSyncPA271W shows a marked drop in quality around ISO 800, as lines become more crowded. The ISO 1600 image quality is good, with a very slight decrease in detail. However, ISO 3200-6400 images can be blurry and should not be used. The 12-megapixel TG-2 manages noise more well. It keeps it below 1.5 percent at ISO 1600. However, it can show smudged details if pushed too far.
QuickTime video can be recorded at 1080p resolution. Good footage with good details. The TG-3 focuses fast as scenes change. The audio is a little lacking in quality, with very few signs of a rolling shutter even when doing quick pans. When zooming or focusing the lens produces a lot noise. The image stabilization system makes an incessant high-pitched whistling noise. The motor can still be activated even when the camera is disabled to ensure that the elements of the lens are in their correct places.
However, it's worth enabling it as it makes handheld footage smoother. To review your footage, you can connect the TG-3 to an HDTV using a micro HDMI cable. The connector is protected by a double locking door. A proprietary USB port can be found next to it. Olympus does not include an external charger. You will need to connect the TG-3 to a wall socket using the AC adapter and cable provided. A second double-locking door holds the battery, as well as the SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot.
Olympus' rugged camera, the Olympus Tough 3 TG-3, is a great choice. But it has its flaws. Its 16-megapixel sensor takes photos that can be a little too noisy and the lens can get a bit blurry when zoomed in. The lens captures more light than other lenses in its class and has great macro capabilities. There are also in-camera tools that can help you set your images apart.
Although you don't have full access to manual controls, you can adjust the aperture and use the scene mode for sport to quickly freeze any action. If you have to travel further than 50 feet, the camera is rugged and tough. An underwater housing can also be purchased. The Olympus Tough TG-850, which costs around $100 less and has a couple of less features, is a great alternative to the $350 compact camera. We feel the TG-3's asking price is justified and we are pleased to call it our Editors' Choice.