Product Review: Olympus TG-3 Waterproof Digital Camera

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I’ve talked about my favorite travel accessories (this camera) in the past, but a short paragraph about it doesn’t really do justice to the camera. So, I figured I might as well put together a quick review of it.

When I was first in the market for a new camera, I wanted something waterproof, that could shoot high quality images, and that didn’t look like a kid’s toy, because let’s be honest some of the waterproof camera’s available look like they came out of a cereal box. With those requirements in mind, I spent a few days researching my options. Eventually, I narrowed my choices down to the Olympus TG-3 and the GoPro3+ Black. I obviously chose the Olympus over the GoPro, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

A word on reviews…
Since most of the products I review were bought at Amazon, there’s a good chance some (or most) of the links I use for the product(s) are affiliate links. You don’t have to use them or even buy the products, but for transparency’s sake, that’s what they are.

Olympus vs GoPro

So, why did I choose Olympus over GoPro? Isn’t GoPro the bee’s knees, the cats pajamas, the dog’s bollocks? Why would I ever pick something other than the camera of all cameras? It’s simple really, I found a camera that better fit my needs.

Frankly, the cameras are pretty similar. They both offer similar picture quality, waterproofing, and action camera-ing (not a word). The only real differences come in the form of size, display, and lenses.

The Olympus is clearly bigger and bulkier, which wouldn’t work well if I planned on mounting the camera often. That wasn’t my goal, so I didn’t care about size as long as it wasn’t the size of a 90s cell phone. The Olympus also offered an on-board LCD display, whereas the GoPro only offered a “second screen” (e.g. smartphone). What really pushed me to get the Olympus, though, was the ability to change out lenses.

The Lenses

There are only two different lenses you can get for the TG-3, the fisheye lens and the 7x zoom lens. They’re both about $130, which is a bit expensive if you ask me, but having the option to add lenses that are completely waterproof is sweet!

Note: The lighting used for the sample pictures below is pretty terrible. Take a look at the pictures at the bottom of this post to see quality photos.

Fisheye

The fisheye lens is by far my favorite of the two lenses. It gives you the ability to take pictures with a much wider angle under water and above. It does have a bit of a fisheye effect when taking the photo, so be aware that it won’t look as natural as a GoPro.

7x Zoom

I personally don’t think the zoom lens is worth the money, primarily because it only increases the zoom from 4x to 7x. If you really want to get close up pictures of your underwater subjects, then by all means this is for you, but zooming doesn’t make much of a difference to me. Also, just as a note, this lens adds a black circle around your images when you are not zoomed in at least 4x.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good

  • LCD Display – I like to be able to see what I’m shooting.
  • Waterproof Interchangeable Lenses – The fisheye lens in particular is extremely useful for wide subjects like schools of fish.
  • GPS – So, you can track every picture’s location.
  • Wifi – The built-in wifi let’s you use a second screen app on your phone and you can upload pictures straight from the camera.
  • Stylish – For a waterproof camera of course.
  • Battery Life – It lasts 8-10 hours with regular shooting.
  • Waterproof Covers – There are two switches you need to adjust on the waterproof covers to access the battery and SD card. It’s a pain, but it ensures that you won’t accidentally expose the non-waterproof part of the camera.

The Bad

  • Zoom – The zoom switch is kind of finicky. Also, 4x zoom won’t get you very far compared to many other cameras that offer 16x+.
  • Shutter Speed – The shutter speed can be a little slow at times, but it’s far from a deal breaker.
  • Frame Rate – It’d be nice to have 60fps when shooting video.
  • Price – The lenses and the camera are a bit pricey.

The Ugly

  • The Size – It’s pretty chunky.

Images

Video Quality

The video quality is good for a point and shoot camera, but it’s not amazing. You can take a look at the video below to judge it for yourself. Make sure you watch it in HD!

Conclusion

I’m far from a professional photographer, but I like taking decent pictures of my travels. If you’re in the market for a waterproof camera, I would highly suggest this one. If you don’t care about the waterproof feature, I would suggest finding a better quality camera (i.e. a DSLR) or a cheaper one (i.e. a $100 point and shoot).

If this were an Amazon review, I’d give this camera a 4/5.


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