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TOUGH times ahead with the Olympus Stylus cameras

As smartphones incorporate increasingly sophisticated lenses and photo editing software, traditional camera manufacturers need to differentiate their pocket devices from those pesky cellular competitors. One area where a handheld camera can stand apart from a smartphone is in terms of its strength and durability, and the new flagship product in Olympus’s STYLUS TOUGH range represents a classic example of this.

With its 25-100mm wide-angle lens offering a 1:2.0 maximum aperture at wide zoom settings, the uppercase-only TOUGH TG-4 has the potential to become the deep-sea diver’s best friend. Its red or black casing incorporates a manometer pressure gauge, a customisable mode dial that can be adjusted while wearing gloves, and waterproofing down to 15 metres. It can also withstand up to 100kg weights, -10°C temperatures and seven-foot drops, which is good news for anyone who likes taking elevated selfies in sub-zero conditions. Video recording can be carried out in full 1080HD, while the 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor delivers impressive performance in low lighting, and the 3-inch LCD display is a fair size.

The rugged camera market is already saturated with products from other leading camera manufacturers, but the TG-4 has so far received a fairly positive reaction from critics and reviewers. Imaging Resource acknowledged the introduction of RAW capture and an improved GPS module, as well as praising its ability to focus on objects just one centimetre beyond its lens. In terms of accessories, they noted that the TG-4 is:

“compatible with a growing system of accessories such as cases, float straps, an underwater housing, plus fisheye and telephoto conversion lenses, as well as the LG-1 LED light guide introduced with the TG-3.”

Mention of last year’s TG-3 leads onto a criticism made by PC Mag – specifically, that the TG-4 offers little over and above the specifications of its predecessor. However, PC Mag did admit “that’s not a bad thing”, having previously described the TG-3 as “one of the best rugged cameras money can buy”. They had also praised the TG-3’s 16-megapixel image sensor and macro capabilities, which have been subtly improved upon in the TG-4. An entirely new feature was picked up on by the American PetaPixel website, who reckoned the introduction of AF Target selection would “open the door to a new world of quality and composition.”

According to CNET’s review, other changes worth noting include: “Live Composite setting that allows for the effect of a long exposure without overexposing the image, an Underwater HDR mode to help with difficult exposures, and improved GPS.” Those underwater credentials were put to the test by The Phoblographer:

“Considering that we did this product shoot under a running sink and that the camera continues to work, we have to say that the build quality is pretty solid.”

They concluded with the sentiments expressed by a number of reviews:

“The image quality seems fairly decent, but we think that some of the biggest features that folks will love are the RAW file offering and just how rugged the camera is.”

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The Olympus TG-4 will be available in May for £349.99. Visit the Olympus website for more information.