Review: The Tough Camera I Take Everywhere Without Fear

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I worry about damaging my cameras. Who doesn’t? But I finally found one that I don’t fear taking anywhere I go. The Olympus Tough camera. It beats the GoPro hands down in my opinion. Here’s why:

  1. It’s a camera first. It has controls on it like a camera, with modes like aperture priority and program mode. You won’t find this on a GoPro.
  2. It shoots in RAW. Still photos can be output in RAW format for the most dynamic range and flexibility in post-processing.
  3. It has a rectilinear lens — not fisheye as the GoPro does. This means less post-process correction and ultimately more image. Videos look more normal from the Tough camera than from a GoPro. You know that GoPro look when you see it, and you won’t see it in this camera.
  4. The full HD 1080p video is stabilized in-camera. This makes a difference in the end product. The videos produced by this camera need less post-processing time.
  5. The battery lasts a long time. How long? Conservatively at least 2x as long as the GoPro and realistically, more like 5x as long.
  6. Lens attachments are available. Just screw off the front ring, and add lens attachments and filters.
  7. It records its location using GPS. No more trying to figure out where I was standing when I took a photo. The photos themselves have the GPS information embedded in the Exif data.
  8. It has a normal 1/4″ threaded mounting hole on the bottom. I can easily put this camera on a tripod or similar mount. A GoPro has a bolted swivel and you need an adapter to get it to a 1/4″ threaded hole.

I use mine with a circular polarizing filter from Hoya. To attach it I first had to buy the adapter ring from Olympus. Combined cost was less than $50. I take the filter off for underwater use as it would unevenly fill with water and there are bubbles visible.

I also have a floating wrist strap in addition to the normal wrist strap that comes with the camera. The floating wrist strap from Ruggard fits tightly on my wrist when using it in water and can be removed easily when walking around and shooting.

To further protect my camera I added a rubberized housing that stretches over the camera. This is probably not necessary for average use, but I toss my camera around a lot so It helps. The drawback is that it catches a lot of grit and dirt underneath it and has to be cleaned out periodically.

My Olympus Tough Camera set-up with rubber protective housing, floating wrist strap, and circular polarizing filter with adapter.

My Olympus Tough Camera set-up with rubber protective housing, floating wrist strap, and circular polarizing filter with adapter.

Using the Olympus Tough Camera

I’ve taken this camera underwater many times and had no issue. It has a mode for underwater use and it color corrects the video and still photos perfectly.

I’ve mounted this camera on vehicles and it has withstood some driving rain and snow, while still producing great video. Dirt doesn’t faze it either. This camera has been very dirty at times and still keeps producing great images.

The android app works well to control and download images and video from the camera. I can see what my camera is seeing while using it and this is a plus when having it mounted to a vehicle. Positioning it becomes a lot easier.

Besides being waterproof and able to be taken underwater, this camera is just plain tough. I don’t worry about shoving it in my pocket or tossing it on the floor of the car. It rattles around with me every day on my car seat or on the floor in the dirt. I just wipe it off and use it. This makes it so handy to grab and go. That is what I need in any camera.

Post-Processing

The RAW images from the Olympus Tough TG-4 have profiles available in DxO Optics Pro where I do the bulk of my processing. Lightroom also has lens profiles for this camera.

The images from this camera are easily corrected. They have a good dynamic range for the small sensor size, and at 16 megapixels, they are plenty large enough to work with.

Video can be as easily processed in almost any video processing program. I like that the files do not need decoding like the GoPro files do.

 Summary

The Olympus Tough cameras are one of my favorite cameras to take with me anywhere. The newer ones shoot in RAW format and that is a plus for my image processing. They can be taken underwater or in dusty and dirty conditions without fail. Dropping them is not a problem either. Overall, this little camera gets me more photos than any of my other cameras combined, and it’s all because I can take it with me anywhere without fear of damaging it.

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