Olympus TG-4 Review

October 5, 2015 | Gavin Stoker | |
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Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

Whilst by virtue of the small-ish 1/2.3-inch sensor at its heart, the Olympus TG-4 is a snapshot camera, the pictures delivered impress none-the-less, with the regular natural colour menu option able to be boosted to a more dynamic in appearance vivid colour via the camera’s built-in menu toolbar. Inevitably perhaps there’s some visible curvature to the edges of the frame when shooting at default maximum 25mm equivalent wideangle setting, and some fall-off of detail towards the very edges of the frame if examining closely. But, whilst the regular close up/macro mode is OK for taking pictures of flowers and the ilk, the microscopic mode lets you put the lens so close you’re almost touching the subject and still get areas of the image in focus, which is useful a feature worth having. Detail is sufficient to pick up lines on the skin, so would be perfect for capturing skittish underwater critters hiding in rock crevices. At telephoto end of the zoom images are clear too, with a digital zoom option if you feel you need to get in closer still and don’t want to bother with simply cropping the image later.

In terms of low light shooting, as with pretty much any compact camera with a 1/2.3-inch sensor, ideally you do want to stray above ISO800 or ISO1600 at a push. With the Olympus TG-4 detail is noticeably breaking up/softening and colour draining at ISO3200 and above, with ISO6400 only really an option if you’re particularly desperate to achieve any shot at all, whatever the cost.

Noise

There are 7 ISO settings available on the Olympus TG-4. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting for both JPEG and RAW.

JPEG

RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg

Focal Range

The Olympus Tough TG-4 has a 4x optical zoom which starts at 25mm and zooms out to a modest 100mm.

25mm

100mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

Although we only used a standard sharpening amount in order to test the JPEG files, we found that, while very sharp on there own, the Olympus TG-4 does benefit from a little boost in an editing suite. However, if there's a lot of noise in the picture, this can have a tendency to exacerbate and reduce the overall quality of viewing.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Olympus TG-4 exhibited some purple fringing effects in high-contrast situations, as shown below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg

Macro

The Olympus Tough TG-4 has a Supermacro mode on its command dial which you need to switch to in order to focus down to 1cm. We found that the main issue with this mode is getting enough light between the lens and the subject. If you don't use the Supermacro mode, the closest that the TG-4 will focus to is 10cm, which isn't a useful close focusing result. However, it has to be noted that the camera can focus to 10cm even at full zoom, which is very useful for sending backgrounds out of focus.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

With the flash turned off, the Olympus TG-4 doesn't show any obvious signs of vignetting at wide-angle or full zoom. However, it does occur when the flash is on. Certainly at wide-angle, at least. It's less so at full zoom, but on a plain white wall, it's still noticeable.

Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Fill-in - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Off - Telephoto (100mm)

Fill-in - Telephoto (100mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Night

The Olympus TG-4 has a dedicated Night scene mode in the Scenes setting on the command dial. The advantage of using this mode is that the camera is allowed to select a longer shutter speed than when in Program mode. The latter meaning you have to select a higher ISO in order to get a balanced exposure. The camera will also assume you're resting the camera, so will choose a low ISO.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg