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Olympus TG-4 Review | Best Cameras for the Money

Camera enthusiasts come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. It would stand to reason that cameras would do the same. Today we examine the Olympus TG-4 and put it against a specialized series of compact cameras in a field often referred to as ‘action cameras.’ These devices are not just built to offer excellent imaging options, but as well take a beating in all degrees of shooting scenario; underwater, in freezing temperatures and against a litany of abuse scenarios these cameras are designed to be durable under duress and to still provide a quality picture when all is said and done.Where it really shines in its waterproofing where it’s so much more than a camera that you can shoot with in the rain; you can literally swim with this camera and shoot underwater photos with it. Meanwhile, with internal RAW shooting capability, photographers can command a wide range of photo detail so that in post-production you can command color and style in ways jpeg only cameras would not hold up to.

Comparison Table

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What Is Olympus TG-4?

Olympus TG-4

Image via Amazon

Olympus has been in the compact camera game now for years, and through it, all has provided a line of durable cameras that are reliable and still strong for their shooting capabilities. The Olympus TG-4, although having been replaced by the  TG-5, manages strong and agile camera capabilities and options all the while still proudly boasting the Olympus standard of durability and strength.

Product Specs  

Olympus TG-4

Image via Amazon

For starters, the Olympus TG-4 boasts a 16MP – 1/2.3″ BSI-CMOS Sensor, which comparatively offers nearly the top in resolution standard among its competitors. Meanwhile, its mid-size 25-100 mm lens really shines with a F2.0 aperture at its widest setting. It can shoot HD, which in a world where almost everything provides 4k means it has some catching up to do in that department, but in image generation, this camera offers quality features like built-in wireless and built-in GPS. 

Where it really shines in its waterproofing where it’s so much more than a camera that you can shoot with in the rain; you can literally swim with this camera and shoot underwater photos with it. Meanwhile, with internal RAW shooting capability, photographers can command a wide range of photo detail so that in post-production you can command color and style in ways jpeg only cameras would not hold up to.

Pricing  

Olympus TG-4

Image via Amazon

Olympus has built their cameras around accessibility, and the Olympus TG-4 stands out as one that offers more accessibility in terms of affordability. You can be shooting with this camera faster and more affordably than other competitors. Amazon.com seems to be the best place to buy, but other retailers like B & H also offer great rates as well as packages for other useful accessories.

How It Compares

The action camera market is brimming and finding a camera that lasts means committing to a camera for years to come. We’ve taken the Olympus TG-4 and pitted it against a few other contenders to see how they compare on factors of price, photo quality and durability. Those cameras are:

Olympus TG-4

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  • Ease of Use
  • Performance
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

In-camera features and simplified controls make this an easy tool for hobbyists to enjoy. The Olympus TG-4 does list that it offers manual focus, but with a confusing path to a digital focus styling, it’s nowhere near as simple as turning a focus ring on a lens. Meanwhile a lack of touch screen interface and articulation prevent this camera from reaching a fully-realized, user-friendly status. Aside from this, the camera does stand strong for its own functionality with regard to the typical needs of this specific camera.

Underwater and through all degrees of duress, the Olympus TG-4 still works great. Basic camera issues create discrepancies in quality though with AF features lacking by comparison and not quite the ruggedness of the GoPro; it still manages incredible performance under scenarios not otherwise designed for typical cameras.

Occasional wants more typically associated with a DSLR camera like a viewfinder or an articulated screen leave you occasionally remiss about what could be, but overall if you need a portable camera to take quality photos on your vacation, the Olympus TG-4 has got you covered.

Amazon offers a 3-4 year warranty option for purchaser through their site.

PROS  

  • RAW image processing
  • 16MP – 1/2.3″ BSI-CMOS sensor
  • Extremely durable design
  • Fast Lens at Wide: f2.00

CONS

  • Only HD video (Not 4k)
  • Manual focus is deceptive and otherwise camera can be difficult to navigate
  • No Built-in Viewfinder

GoPro Hero 6 Black

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GoPro is the ubiquitous camera of the sports and action field. Largely the signature design for action cameras of any kind, GoPro stands out for shooting quality HD and 4k footage inside a small and convenient camera body. Meanwhile a wide range of accessories and support material make it an incredibly user friendly apparatus that is easy to start with and easy to become addicted to. It is not typically rated for its photographic abilities and so when compared to cameras like the Olympus TG-4 which is conversely not rated for video standards very often, the two can come off as a largely dissimilar match. For what they lack in those departments though, they both can collectively compete in durability, portability and versatility.

  • Ease of Use
  • Performance
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

Having no features on the body itself, you will have to control the camera remotely via your cell phone, which can be a frustrating, multi-step hassle for people who are used to tactile control of their cameras. There are few buttons on the camera itself, which draws some users into thinking it’s simple, but because one button can be the power button, the cycle left, and right and a different button be the activation button, it is really a camera whose function will never feel intuitive.

GoPro is a proud brand which has continued to maintain its standards of excellence in under some of the most trying conditions. What it does, it does well and there’s no denying the endless possibilities of this little action camera. As a photographic camera though you really would be lacking when going for aspects you specifically want or need. There’s no viewfinder or screen, and the size of it just makes you feel like you’re playing with a toy rather than framing up for a shot.

The GoPro camera is all you get when you buy and as a result it does not even include a screen. For this reason, it can feel a bit thin in the provisions department and loses out as a result to other cameras on this list like the Olympus TG-4. It scores points for its incredibly small design but the initial excitement of having such a small device, the remainder of the glamor will fade to frustration when you’re trying to do something specific with it.

You can buy warranties with Amazon but GoPro also offers quality coverage for most reasonable scenarios.

PROS

  • Extremely compact
  • 4k shooting capability
  • Extensive range of resources

CONS

  • No internal screen
  • Expensive
  • Difficult to use if you’re not tech savvy

Olympus TG-5

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The bigger brother of the Olympus TG-4, the TG-5 has made some notable updates including 4k shooting, 20.0 fps continuous shooting (over the TG-4’s 5 fps) and an expanded ISO range. With a hefty price tag and a smaller sensor, there are still qualities that encourage users to look to the Olympus TG-4 over the TG-5. The Olympus TG-5 by design is mostly a similar weight and feel though and has made little sacrifices in exchange for more quality in your compact camera. For that, we will break these down below:

  • Ease of Use
  • Performance
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

For functionality, this camera hasn’t made much of a leap from it’s Olympus TG-4 counterpart. Largely the same body, most of the enhancements come with internal picture quality. As a result of some of the same issues also follow including an attached screen without touch functionality and no viewfinder.

With higher ISO range, better video quality and a larger pixel area, the Olympus TG-5 makes efforts to out-do the Olympus TG-4 in nearly every degree of performance. Where it falls short is in megapixels, which dictate very little in this day and age but comes across as a degradation in quality to some consumers. Overall it is something hard to stress about in a compact camera as it’s unlikely these prints will ever be large enough for it to be necessary to have so many extra pixels.

This camera mirrors the Olympus TG-4 in so many ways that the design itself is close to indistinguishable. The TG-5 is 3 grams heavier and about a millimeter longer and wider, but this is unlikely to cause too many issues for space or portability.

Amazon.com provides quality 3 and 4-year warranties for this model.

PROS

  • 4k video shooting
  • Can reach ISO 12800
  • 20.0 fps continuous shooting

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Smaller 12MP sensor 
  • Shorter battery life

Nikon W300

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The Nikon Coolpix W300 is Nikon’s direct answer to the compact waterproof camera market, and without a doubt, it’s a solid answer. It’s a neck-to-neck race with the Olympus TG-4 and with only a few key differences, it will be down to the particularities of the photographer to decide which of the two works best for their needs. 

  • Ease of Use
  • Performance
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

Outer camera dials and obvious settings make this camera a grab-and-go essential that won’t stir up too much controversy in the functionality department. With optical image stabilization to counter for hand held work and a weather sealed body you’ll have every degree of function whenever you need it.

Nikon allows for premium video quality and adds only a little to what we would expect from the compact camera market. In particular where it stands out against the Olympus TG-4 is that is has an internal viewfinder. Otherwise it still offers the same variable features with a high enough degree of fidelity to ensure this camera utilizes all that modern technology has to offer. Other additions are a faster top shutter speed (1/4000svs) and a top 7.0 fps continuous shooting speed.

Largely the same as the Olympus TG-4, the only real differences are that this camera is just a little smaller than its competitor. Again the viewfinder stands out here as a bonus for shooters during daylight conditions. Meanwhile, with a screen resolution that can reach 921k dots, you are much more likely to clearly understand the photo you are taking well before you get into any degree of post work.

Amazon provides 3 and 4-year warranties on this model camera.

PROS

  • Slightly thinner than the Olympus TG-4 
  • 4k video shooting capability
  • 24-120 mm focal range rather than 25-100 mm

CONS

  • No RAW image capability
  • No Manual focus option
  • Aperture can only hit F 2.8 rather than F 2.0

Conclusion

Olympus TG-4

Image via Amazon

The Olympus TG-4 is no disappointment. It offer a cross-section between pro-grade photography housed inside a nearly indestructible body. The resulting package is a go anywhere camera that won’t always shoot the best shots for every given situation, but that will be ready with solutions for every situation that comes its way. For videography and hyper-specific, artful photography, this camera lacks the specificity and control to manage with lens specificity and deliberate focus can achieve. But for underwater shooting, autofocus control and exciting add-ons like wifi capability and GPS services, this camera is a great way to explore the outdoors and document the entire experience along the way. 

Featured Image: Image via Amazon