You might think twice about purchasing a rugged camera, until you have dropped your existing one into a swimming pool, or spilled drinks on it, or spent a day with it at the beach. Even everyday use can be rough.
In the past, there were compromises when it came to ruggedness: weight, size, and features. But, now you don’t have to “settle” for second-rate to get all the bells and whistles.
The Olympus TG-1 is waterproof to 40 ft, shockproof when dropped from a 7 foot height, crushproof to 220 lbs, freezeproof to 14F and dustproof. And, if that wasn’t enough, it comes with a fast 2.0 lens that gets great wide-angle shots at 25mm, a 4x optical zoon, a 12MP chip that can take full HD 1080p videos at up to 60fps, and it can tag photo locations with its built-in GPS. Bear in mind, however, that using the GPS will cut down battery life considerably.
The word on the street is that it’s fast. Faster than any other rugged compact out there. Cold boot, start-up time is from 1.5-2.1 seconds. After that, wake-up time is 1.2 seconds. It takes full quality photos at 6-10 frames per second. At 3MP this goes up to 60fps. There is practically no shutter-lag (0.3 – 0.6 seconds depending upon light conditions) and the autofocus works well in low-light conditions.
Photo quality is good for a camera this compact but not out-of-this world amazing. The lens will give you F2.0 when fully zoomed out, which is good for shooting underwater where there is typically less light than the norm. However, there is no RAW format support.
Another nice aspect of the camera is that its lens is mounted in the middle of the camera body, so you can hold it with both hands without getting fingers in the way of the lens. The 3-inch OLED display on the back is larger and brighter than most of the competition, too.
Build quality is reported to be very solid, although there are some complaints that the mode nob and other settings are designed for very small hands.
The camera isn’t entirely sand-proof, per se, but you can wash sand out of it – if any gets into the knobs or controls – thanks to the water-repellant coating.
Three negatives, however:
- (1) it requires a proprietary USB cable for recharging, which means that you are lost if you lose it. The camera doesn’t come with an external battery charger, so you are forced to keep this cable safe.
- (2) Audio quality is reported to be mediocre. This has something to do with the waterproofing of the camera.
- (3) Panorama feature is cack. Many people have reported having trouble stitching photos together with the built-in software.
There are a bunch of accessories available, including:
- Fisheye converter lens
- Tele converter lens
- Underwater housing to 135 feet