Not that he would, but if Chuck Norris went fly fishing and needed some pictures, the Olympus TG-4 ‘Tough’ would be his camera.
Chuck would dig that’s it’s waterproof to 15 meters, can survive a drop of 2.1 meters and is freeze proof to an unlikely in Australia -10C. He would be happy with it’s very compact size, low weight, but solid, well made feel that inspirers confidence in it’s tough guy claims and no doubt also find uses for the build in Wi-Fi and GPS and features like air pressure, altitude, and water depth metering.
I bet he could also make some awesome video’s of his kills with the full 1080P and brilliant of slo-mo options.
This camera appeals to me because of repair costs associated with dragging pro level cameras up and down the waterways of Australia on a regular basis and that nervous moment when my 6 year old daughter want’s to take pictures.
Pro cameras are always improving, but still a long way off the Olympus’s level of waterproof or kid-proof.
So, what’s it like ?
As soon as the review sample of the Olympus TG-4 arrived I slapped it into ‘PHD’ mode for ‘push here Dummy’ and stuffed it into my vest for a trip up a horrid little creek I know where the water can be 8 feet deep and the fish 2 feet long.
My main goal was to test it as a simple, point and shoot option used in the same way most non-photographic fly fisherman would and at the same time, to see how well it would survive the often harsh environment that is small stream trout fishing.
So how did it go ?
Well, it must have intimidated all the big fish on the horrid little creek because they didn’t come out for a shot, but it certainly handled the deep water crossings, life in a fly vest and sticky march back up the mountain to the car.
It’s also way better than a phone camera and never once rang to ask when I would be home and if it would kill me to get some milk on the way.
The first pictures, all shot in full auto mode as JPEG’s looked good and would easily be good enough for any social media uses or normal sized prints.
Compared to compact cameras of even a very few years ago, this one is amazing in it’s colour, contrast, high ISO quality and the uncanny ability of the auto focus to find my intended subject.
On it’s second trip out, bass fishing in hill-billy country down the coast in crap weather, I used the cameras various scene modes and got better shots again.
For example, the ‘Sport’ mode sets a higher shutter speed to freeze the action and worked well for using the longer end of the zoom lens and there’s also modes for selfies, sunsets, night shooting, fireworks and underwater shots amongst others.
One really cool mode is ‘Microscope’ and the Olympus will focus insanely close for photos. This is perfect for photographing the tiny flies and insects so much a part of fly fishing.
Manual photography options on the TG-4 are limited, and it’s not pretending to be a pro camera, but thankfully all the various auto modes are excellent and with a little dial surfing there’s plenty of scope to get the look your after.
If you’re more into photography than snapper level, there’s the option to shoot a raw file along with the JPEG for more post processing options later and the TG-4 is capable of pro results if shot with care and it’s limitations in mind.
Though I only had the camera for review for a couple short trips, I think that with time and some familiarisation with the settings, this camera is a genuine option for someone wanting to get better than phone shot quality without carrying a much heavier and more vulnerable pro cameras.
In terms of image quality it’s right up there with the best compact cameras, but bombproof as a bonus. The lens, roughly a 25mm to 100mm equivalent in the old money, is very bright at f2 and sharp and perfect for fishing photography. The battery life also proved excellent and I saw no notable drain even after long days on the water.
Is the image quality as good as my Nikons ? No, but it’s more than capable, virtually indestructible and a great fly fishing snap-shot option that’s also flat-out the best beach/river/pool family holiday camera option ever for under $500.
Optional accessories available including waterproof fisheye and teleconverter lenses and an LED ring light.
Last, the TG-4 is tho only compact waterproof camera that accepts a polarising filter.