PROS / This camera takes better underwater pictures than any other camera we reviewed.
CONS / A handful of other cameras took better dry-land pictures.
VERDICT / This rugged device is the best camera for taking underwater pictures.
The Olympus TG-4 is one of the most impressive waterproof cameras in our lineup. It's rugged, packed with features, easy to use, has a long battery life and flat out takes great underwater pictures. This impressive camera earns our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for all-around excellence.
When you pick up this camera, you can tell it has some bulk. It feels sturdy and strong. The casing is made from metal – whereas other cameras we reviewed have plastic casings – making the TG-4 especially durable. It is a bit heavier than most cameras, but the extra weight should allow it to withstand some punishment. The camera is rated to withstand a drop from 7 feet, the best rating in our comparison.
This waterproof digital camera is rated to dive down to 50 feet underwater. While we didn't test this camera at those kinds of depths, the TG-4 was able to withstand all of our underwater testing without any problem. The battery and charging hatches have two latches that keep the compartments sealed. One opens the hatch and the other locks it. The locking mechanism keeps water out of the hatches completely and is also easy to use and adjust.
We tested the underwater cameras by placing them on a tripod and submerging them underwater to capture images of our test scene located at the bottom of a pool. The TG-4 captured remarkable underwater images – the best in our lineup. The image clarity is crisp and sharp. The images also have accurate and deep color saturation that makes the test scene look vibrant, even underwater. Many other underwater digital cameras give the water an unnatural yellow or blue tint. In our TG-4 underwater image the water is a soft blue that keeps the overall picture bright as well as the target in focus, detailed and sharp. The underwater image quality is unmatched by any other camera.
The dry-land image testing was still good, but other cameras outperformed the TG-4 with sharper images and better color accuracy. The Olympus rendered the top and bottom blue boxes on the test pattern as more purple than blue. The bottom left corner of the color palette has two similarly color boxes next to them – a light gray and a brownish-gray. The TG-4 bleeds these two together. It is difficult to see the definitive line splitting the two colors.
The Olympus TG-4 has solid technical specifications for an underwater camera. The camera features a 16-megapixel image sensor, standard for top-quality waterproof cameras. The ISO ranges from 100-6400, so you can get great pictures in both low and bright lighting. The shutter speed ranges from half of a second to 1/2,000 of a second, which is standard for underwater cameras. The shutter speed is dynamic enough to capture still images of fast-moving objects such as a waterfall and add motion blur to an image like fireworks in the sky.
This camera has all of the extra features you'd want in an underwater camera. It can capture full 1080p video that includes audio. It has many different picture effects that you can add to your images built into the camera. The camera features image stabilization, face detection and focus lock to keep your pictures sharp and free of motion blur.
Perhaps the most impressive of the features are built-in Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities. By downloading the OI Share app, you can use your phone as a remote control for the camera. You can also upload pictures straight from the camera to your smart device. The built-in GPS tracks where pictures were taken to help you remember where you took each shot. The application is a great tool to accompany the TG-4.
Make sure you have this camera tied or strapped to you – if you are in a large body of water and it slips out of your hands, it will sink. The camera is heavier than most at 8.7 ounces. At 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.2 inches, the dimensions are fairly average for underwater cameras.
The back of the device houses a 3-inch display as well as a mode dial, display information button, playback button and a menu button to display the camera's settings menu. When you turn the mode dial, an explanation of the selected mode comes up on the display so you don't have to interpret what the little icons mean on the dial, which is a nice touch. The camera menu is straightforward and easy to navigate. The layout is one list you can scroll through without having to wade through different menu areas. That being said, the camera is easy to use.
The TG-4 is powered by a lithium-ion battery that lets you take up to 380 pictures on a single charge. That is 10 more pictures than the second-best battery in our comparison. Once the battery is fully charged, you won't have to worry about running out of power when you're out and about.
Help & Support
Olympus covers the TG-4 with a standard one-year warranty. If you need to contact Olympus for any reason, you can reach the company via email and telephone. Phone support is your best option for quick help.
The Olympus TG-4 is an impressive underwater camera. It is the best underwater camera in terms of underwater picture quality, though a couple other cameras in our lineup fared better in our dry-land testing scenario. The device feels sturdy with a metal casing that can handle underwater depths of 50 feet and drops from 7 feet. The Olympus TG-4 is a great choice for taking photos while exploring.