Olympus Tough TG-3 Review

August 12, 2014 | Matt Grayson |

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.


Low ISO images on the Olympus Tough TG-3 don't bode well for the higher settings. In highlights and mid-tones, the images look good with sharp edges, clear detail and good colours. Darker areas look to have some noise reduction already at work. This is in spite of an f/2 lens and back-illuminated sensor. These results remain the same through ISO 200 but with more noise reduction taking place and some colour noise appearing in low key areas.

At ISO 400 the noise in dark areas increases even more and mid-tones are also starting to get affected with a break down on sharp edges. Definite blue coloured blobs appear in shadows. The next sizeable increase in noise appears at ISO 1600 with salt & pepper noise invading mid-tones. Other than that, it's a steady increase in noise throughout the stages.

At ISO 3200, noise reduction software steps up it's game reduces colour in the image in order to reduce colour noise in the image. It's not such a bad thing considering the noise that it still visible. Reds, greens and blues affect darker areas of the image. The final ISO 6400 image lacks much of the detail that ISO 100 takes for granted. A lot of colour has been removed but a lot of colour noise remains, which makes us wonder how bad it really could be.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The focal length of the Olympus Tough TG-3 is 25-100mm in 35mm terms. That's only a 4x optical range, but do you need much else on an underwater camera? The lack of zoom means that the camera remains sharper at the extreme ends of the focal length and there is some good edge to edge sharpness on our test shots.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


Adding sharpening to the images taken on the Olympus Tough TG-3 is certainly beneficial, however, if there's too much noise in the image, it exacerbates the problem, so be careful if you decide to use it.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

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

File Quality

There are two JPEG quality settings available on the Olympus Tough TG-3, including Fine and Normal.

16M Fine (7.54Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Normal (3.08Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

Lens quality is very good on the Olympus Tough TG-3 and we barely found any traces of chromatic aberration. The only image we could find any on was the Microscope setting which is a supermacro setting. Things get distorted at that setting but we still only found trace amounts which were very out of focus areas.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)



The macro on the Olympus Tough TG-3 is a supermacro which is enabled by switching the command dial to the microscope setting. In that mode, it can focus down to 1cm. Aside from that, you're looking at a 5cm close focus performance.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Super Macro

Super Macro (100% Crop)

macro2.jpg macro2a.jpg


The flash on the Olympus Tough TG-3 works well. It's an intelligent system designed to compliment ambient light and stabilise it. There's also an LED which looks brighter when focusing than when you actually take a picture. There's also an additional LED attachment sold separately. There's no vignetting that we can see that's caused by the lens. Using flash doesn't add any either.

Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Fill-in - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Off - Telephoto (100mm)

Fill-in - Telephoto (100mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

We didn't get any red-eye in our test, but when out shooting a live event in a darker situation, we found that red-eye did appear. In that situation, a red-eye reduction feature isn't viable because the shot has to be taken there and then. However, all is not lost as there is an in camera red-eye removal feature which does work with all but the strongest red-eye.


Fill-in (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

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There are two night scene settings on the Olympus Tough TG-3. You can choose whether you're hand holding the camera or resting it/using a tripod. The latter is by far the best option as it will select a lower ISO to reduce noise. We also took a test shot in Program mode to see what the differences are. Because we can control the ISO in Program mode, we'll naturally select the lowest available. However, the difference is that Program mode only has a slowest shutter speed of 1/2 second while the Night shot Tripod mode exposed for 2sec for us. We got a much faster shutter speed of 1/25 second but also uses an ISO of 3200. 

Night Program

Night Program (100% Crop)

night_program.jpg night_program1.jpg

Night Scene Handheld

Night Scene Handheld (100% Crop)

night_scene_handheld.jpg night_scene_handheld1.jpg

Night Scene Tripod

Night Scene Tripod (100% Crop)

night_scene_tripod.jpg night_scene_tripod1.jpg