My Olympus TG-4 Field Test - Underwater in the Philippines

Olympus TG-4 With optional "Fish Eye" Wide Angle Lens
Olympus TG-4 with optional "Fish Eye" Wide-Angle Lens (FCON-T01)

 

"Nathan, what kind of camera do you use?"  I receive this question from I Dreamed Of This readers all of the time.  Well here you go...

 

When I read about the Olympus TG-4 and saw some test shots (both above and below the water), I forgot all about the GoPro and ordered one immediately. 

 

I'm a full-time travel blogger, and was heading out on a backpacking trip to document the beaches and marine life in the Philippines. 

 

I was looking for a waterproof, relatively compact, travel-friendly camera with equal photo and video capabilities, a large LCD screen, great image quality, low-light capabilities, and plenty of durability.  Oh, and a great price! Haha, I know...it's a lot to ask.

 

Lazada Philippines

 

 

Amazingly, when the camera arrived from Amazon.com, I realized I got so much more For those of you that are familiar with the TG-2 "tough" series, you should know that the latest series is a HUGE step up.  The TG-3 was already great, but the TG-4 improved on it even more.  A rugged, underwater camera that shoots RAW?  Yup.  Battery life is great, too - you can shoot all day before needing to chargeI could go on and on, but I will let the sample photos speak for themselves. 

 

As you'll see below, the Philippines is the perfect place to conduct a product review!  I have done my best to include plenty of unedited (as shot) examples of what the TG-4 is capable of.

 

TG-4 Test Shots - No Flash

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White Beach, Boracay - Philippines - TG-4 Sample Photos
White Beach, Boracay - Philippines - TG-4 Sample Photos

On beautiful Boracay island, the TG-4 did great on sunny days, but the fast 2.0 aperture lens also allows you to take nice nighttime shots without a flash!  All of the photos on this page were taken handheld with no tripod. 

 

The camera has a very solid build and quality feel, and that makes it a bit heavier than its competitors.  It's certainly bigger and heavier than the Gopro, but for me, the large LCD screen and excellent photo capabilities (including stunning macro) sold me on it. It's still pocket-sized with no lens attached.

 

You can also purchase both a wide and telephoto option for this camera.  I have a wide lens on my APS-C sensor DSLR camera, and as far as I can tell, the wide angle Olympus fish eye would be the equivalent of about 11mm on an APS-C.

 

I don't think it's quite as wide as a Gopro, but as you can see, it gets the job done nicely!  Attach it to a selfie-stick and it's perfect for solo travelers or group shots! A word of advice, though: Make sure you keep the lens cap on when not is use, and avoid getting fingerprints on the attached lens. It gets dirty very easily, and it can affect the pictures.

 

 

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Waterproof, Kidproof, and a Super Fast 2.0 Lens

 

 

Who is this camera good for?  In my opinion, everybody!  Water sports enthusiasts or those with restless kids / pets will love the high aperture lens and durable, waterproof technology.  Jewelry and macro photographers will have an absolute blast playing with it (see below).   Those who are accident-prone will love how "tough" it really is.

 

Speaking of durability, when they say it's "tough", they mean it!  I have used it repeatedly in fresh and saltwater, I have dropped it on pavement (from a motorbike...at 40 MPH!), and I have crushed it.  It still functions perfectly.  It has no moving parts for beach sand to get stuck in and ruin. Let's just say if I lost this camera, I would be devastated, and I would buy another one in a heartbeat.

 

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Unreal Macro and Micro Modes (a 1cm Focus Distance!)

A Tiny Drop of Water on a Little Flower @ Boracay, Philippines (Olympus TG-4 Macro Sample Photos)
A Tiny Drop of Water on a Little Flower - Boracay, Philippines - Olympus TG-4 Macro Setting

I was so amazed to learn that the TG-4 has a 1 centimeter minimum focus distance...that means you can basically get as close as you want to a tiny object, and still be able to focus

 

To top that, there are 2 and 4 X magnification modes that actual make the lens microscopic.  People even photograph snowflakes with this camera.


It also has focus bracketing built in, and that gives you the ability to shoot in macro modes with much more of your subject in focus.  You can take stunning macro video as well.

 

 

 

 

Oh, I forgot to mention that it has a 4 X optical zoom, too. From 25mm-100mm.


Raw, Manual, & Low Light...in a Cheap, Durable Point and Shoot?

It may not have the largest sensor out there, but in my opinion, when you consider the LCD screen, the ability to shoot RAW, and the price, these options blow the competition out of the water. There are plenty of manual settings available as well: Exposure comp, ISO, and white balance, to name a few.   Throw in art filters, photo collage features, panoramic and HDR options, and things really get interesting.  Wait, did I mention wifi and GPS?  Yup. 

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 Yes, the technology packed into this little camera is incredible!

 

Macro Shot of a Bee (Olympus TG-4 Sample Photos)
Macro Shot of a Bee (Olympus TG-4 Sample Photos)

 

The green photo below is a leaf backlit with sunlight.  It was a handheld shot, and really shows how impressive the macro / micro features are.

 

(Click to enlarge)

 

 

Underwater Photography Samples

Clownfish While Diving and Snorkeling in Sipalay, Negros - Philippines (Olympus TG-4 Sample Photos)
Clownfish While Diving and Snorkeling in Sipalay, Negros - Philippines

 The first time I got a glimpse of the underwater world in El Nido, Philippines, I knew I had to come back with a nice underwater camera!

 

The underwater modes are quite impressive - in fact, a dive master who borrowed it told me that it performed better than the Gopro in deep water

 

It shoots video up to 1080p, and while it's not quite on par with the Gopro in terms of video, I think it makes up for it with a faster lens and (in my opinion) nicer underwater photos

 

You can use the wide angle lens underwater as well, but one drawback to this is the cheap plastic adapter that comes with it.  You need to be very careful when putting the lens on the camera, so that you don't damage the adapter.  If damaged, while it's doesn't hurt the camera, the photos can be ruined by water leaking in between the external lens and the camera.

 

My solution to this was to let the water fill the space completely, so that I can shoot with no air bubbles in the way. I call it a "water filter". Haha. As you can see, it still works beautifully!


Snorkeling and Diving Tests

The camera can be submerged up to 50 feet with no housing. I believe the housing you can buy (it's quite pricey) can take it down to 150 feet. You can buy floater accessories and straps...sometimes the camera comes with them. It's nice to use the strap when you're snorkeling in deep water, trust me!

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Underwater Video Sample

 

Here is some sample video footage I put together from snorkeling and diving in Moalboal, Philippines.  What an unforgettable experience!  The video is unedited, with the exception of the added music and transitions to join clips.  I also used youtube's "anti-shake" feature when uploading it, because I started shivering after being in the water for a while! 

 

I definitely recommend watching it in HD if possible...

 


Send load to friends and family in the Philippines!

topup load Philippines

 

 There are also excellent time-lapse video options, and many more features that are better for you to discover on your own!  It is now my favorite all-purpose camera for traveling in the Philippines, because it takes stunning photos and I never have to worry about it getting damaged.  The lens options are nice and affordable, and are also waterproof

 

Where To Buy the Olympus TG-4

Understandably, this camera is highly reviewed and sold out very quickly. I had to backorder mine. Now it's restocked in the US (Amazon.com), and also just became available in the Philippines.

 

In the Philippines, You can use Lazada to safely order the Red TG-4 online HERE

 

You can order the Black TG-4 HERE

 

As of now, the separate lenses must be purchased from Amazon in the US...check the links below.


 

In the U.S.

 

To order from Amazon.com (Red and Black Color options) :

 

"Fish Eye" Wide Angle Lens:


Telephoto Lens Option:

 

 

Full disclaimer: I am not endorsed or sponsored by Olympus at all, and this is the first product I have ever recommended to my readers.   I feel good knowing that I absolutely love this camera, and use it daily.   I bought it because of all the features mentioned earlier, but also because it was actually one-third cheaper than the Gopro!  Even the wide angle lens was quite affordable.

 

I will say that if you purchase yours through the links above, while it costs you nothing extra, a small percentage of the sale will go towards helping me continue documenting and promoting The Philippines and Filipino culture.  It's a win-win for both of us!  For more information about my travel mission, click HERE

 

Do let me know if you have any questions about the camera, or need any help using it!

 

 

- Nathan Allen

www.idreamedofthis.com




Agoda - a partner of "I Dreamed Of This" - Photo by BM Snapshots

 

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