The versatile new pocket-sized Olympus TG-3 makes it very easy to take great photos on fly—whether on land or in the water. We tested the soon-to-be-released camera in and around New Orleans and found that a slew of standout features define the model, which is the latest in their Stylus Tough series. Emphasizing its "go anywhere" nature, the camera can go 50 feet underwater and is shockproof—handing anything up to a seven-foot drop. It's quick to turn on and capture images quite rapidly through the high-speed f/2.0 lens. Coupled with its small size and superb photo quality, the TG-3 is a great option for everyday outdoor photographers or professionals who don't mind a point-and-shoot.
As far as the technical specs go, the camera carries a 4x Optical Zoom, plus a powerful digital zoom to get even closer to the subject. The standard focal range covers most types of shooting, plus the Super Macro Mode can focus within a centimeter of the subject to get extreme details. All the while, it snags impressive quality 16-megapixel images considering the relatively small 1/2.3" sensor size. Further, it's long-lasting with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can take up to 380 shots or 120 minutes of continuous video shooting.
Logically, in the age of immediate image modification, the TG-3 also contains 11 native art filters—a feature Olympus has offered for years on their higher-end cameras. While there are the common fish eye, soft focus and grainy film, options like dramatic tone (see the alligator shot) and pop art lead to photos with a edgy, vibrant enhancements. It's an entertaining feature that's easily accessible from the shooting mode wheel (which contains seven other mode options). There are also 22 scene modes to help automate exposure settings, delivering everything from night portraiture to a setting dedicated entirely to cuisine. While there are plenty of modes, the intuitive operating system makes navigating all the functionality quick and easy—even for photography rookies.
Once users land the image they're seeking, the TG-3 makes sharing a simple process as well. Beyond standard USB, the camera is wifi-enabled, allowing for direct transport of photos from the camera to a smartphone. Olympus has an app on both the Android and iOS platforms—called Olympus Image Share (OI.Share)—that pairs with the camera. There, users can import JPEG and MOV files, and geo-tag them if the on-board GPS hadn't already. It's super-fast, only requires pairing once and the simple process makes each high-quality image immediately social media ready.
The same app also allows users to trigger a series of remote camera operations: zoom, self-timer activation, white balance and exposure (ISO, shutter speed, aperture) adjustment, tripping the shutter and much more. Altogether, this durable digital camera offers up plenty of worthy functionality within a body built for active users and—perhaps most importantly—isn't a puzzle to use.
The Olympus TG-3 is available for pre-order—in either red or black—online for $350. Shipping begins in June 2014.
Photos by David Graver, shot on the Olympus TG-3