Backscatter Home Backscatter HomeSearchHousing FinderContact
Backscatter Underwater Photo & Video
LearnShopSupport
GalleriesArticlesTrips & ClassesBooks

The Olympus TG-3 Underwater Camera Review - Amazing Super Macro

Articles » Photo Equipment » The Olympus TG-3 Underwater Camera Review - Amazing Super Macro

Font Sizes:
The Olympus TG-3 Underwater Camera Review - Amazing Super Macro


WATERPROOF TO 50 FEET WITHOUT A HOUSING

Olympus was kind enough to send along a pre-release sample of the newest Tough camera to The Digital Shootout, the TG-3. The tough series of cameras are truly tough-waterproof to 50 feet without a housing, crushproof to 220 pounds, drop proof from 6 feet, and freeze proof. Put the Tough TG-3 in a housing and it's waterproof to 150 feet! Even if you have a partial flood of the housing at depth, the camera will survive. This makes it great for the person who is rough on their gear or for a rental department needing ultimate reliability.<a href='http://www.backscatter.com/sku/ol-v104140bu000.lasso' class='standard'>Olympus Tough TG-3</a> Camera - Video by Jim Decker

INCREDIBLE MACRO WITHOUT A MACRO LENS

The Olympus Tough TG-3 doesn't have a macro mode-it has microscope mode. In microscope mode you can get crazy close up macro-with no other accessory lenses needed. This camera will focus so close in microscope mode that if you have any lint or debris on the inside of the housing lens, it will focus on that instead of the subject, so make sure your lens port is clean! You can get super close up shots of blennies, so much so that you can see their teeth and their need to floss. All of the photos and video shown are completely uncropped from the camera. While there is a digital zoom capability to enlarge things even greater, all the images displayed were shot with no digital zooming.


© Jim Decker | TG-3 | 18mm | ISO 160 | 1/400 sec at f / 4.9

A downside to the macro is how close you need to be to pull off these shots. You are practically on top of the subject. This makes it difficult to impossible for more skittish critters that require more distance. The good news is that you can't get closer than the minimum focus distance of the lens since it will focus on the inside of the housing port!

Macro mode has a focus lock so you can lock focus and take pictures without refocusing every time half shutter is pressed. This is very handy for difficult to focus on subjects and allows you to move the camera back and forth to find the final focus.

<a href='http://www.backscatter.com/sku/ol-v104140bu000.lasso' class='standard'>Olympus Tough TG-3</a> Camera - Using a Video Light Instead of Strobe to shoot Macro
Although the macro shots in this article were shot with the RGBLue System 2 light, a Light & Motion Gobe 700 Wide light is powerful enough to get fast shutter speeds and low ISOs in microscope mode.

PERFECT PHOTOS WITH ONLY A VIDEO LIGHT

For all of the macro shots I used a video light instead of a strobe. This greatly simplifies shooting macro subjects. Since the light is constantly on, the camera's auto exposure does a great job. When combined with a focus lock, you can shoot in continuous shooting mode to get rapid fire shots like an SLR while not having any lag with recycle time since the strobe isn't firing. The light is bright enough to get a fast shutter speed and knock out any ambient light. I mounted the light to the shoe adapter of the housing and pointed it straight down. While this technique works fine for macro, a light is not bright enough to pull off large wide angle scenes. A decent set of strobes are needed for wide angle shots.


© Jim Decker | TG-3 | 8.99mm | ISO 100 | 1/50 sec at f / 4.5

NEW APERTURE PRIORITY MODE FOR BETTER EXPOSURE CONTROL

Unfortunately, there is no manual exposure mode on this camera. The addition of aperture priority is a godsend for working with external strobes and is the recommended mode for fish portraits and wide angle scenes. No longer are you chasing strobe exposures because the aperture changes at will. While there is no shutter speed control, you can use exposure compensation to adjust your background exposure. 

Olympus Tough TG - 3 Camera with UWL - 04
The Olympus PT-056 housing has an aluminum threaded front port with 52mm threads that allows a wide angle lens such as the UWL-04 to attached to the front of the housing without any other accessories needed.

GREAT WIDE ANGLE LENS OPTION

The wide angle shots shown here are done with the UWL-04 lens. This lens gives an approximate angle of 165 degrees with the TG-3. The lens is a wet lens and simply screws on to the housing underwater. Just make sure you "burp' the lens underwater to remove any air trapped between the lens and the housing.


© Jim Decker | TG-3 | 5.5mm | ISO 100 | 1/30 sec at f / 9

DEDICATED 1080P VIDEO BUTTON

There is no separate video mode for the TG-3, just a red record button on the back of the camera. This is a good thing since you don't need to fumble around switching modes when some surprise action pops up. You can also use the exposure compensation and white balance without any limitations since there is no separate mode like other cameras.

EASY AND ACCURATE WHITE BALANCE AT DEPTH

There are 2 custom white balance presets in the camera. I had no problem executing a custom white balance at 50 feet with correct color. The nurse shark in the video was shot with a wide angle lens and natural light with a custom white balance. The wide lens allows one to get closer to the subject and get more clarity and contrast from the image by shooting through less water.

Fast Focus Even in Macro Mode

Focus is super fast, even in the challenging conditions of macro. Only on a rare occasion did the camera have an issue with focusing on the smallest critters of the reef. This is probably one of the fastest focusing compact cameras overall, and definitely the fastest for macro photography.


© Jim Decker | TG-3 | 18mm | ISO 400 | 1/400 sec at f / 4.9

Downsides

There are a couple downsides to this camera. First, it only shoots JPEG not RAW. This is a big disappointment and something we have been complaining about to Olympus for the TG series cameras. Compared to a RAW image, the JPEG photos from this camera lack a bit of detail and seem a bit heavy handed on noise reduction. This really only becomes apparent at increased magnifications and if one was to make very large prints. 

The second downside is no manual exposure mode. While aperture priority is a big welcomed feature on this camera, going that one further step to include shutter speed adjustment will make wide angle shots easier to pull off and make it easier to balance foreground exposures with strobes and pull in the background exposure with shutter speed.

© Jim Decker | TG-3 | 18mm | ISO 100 | 1/400 sec at f / 4.9

Conclusion

The Olympus Tough TG-3 is the most capable macro camera we have ever shot. When combined with a focus or video light, you have a super compact killer macro rig you can take with you on any dive, even if you have another larger wide angle system.

Now SHIPPING!

We are now accepting orders for the Olympus Tough TG-3. Please contact one of our staff to order your housing!



Questions?

Our staff of experienced underwater shooters can help you navigate your way through getting up to speed on the latest offerings--whether it is from a compact camera to a full production cinema rig. Please call or email our staff and we will be glad to help you out.






Shoot with Us
NAME

EMAIL

EMAIL (please enter it twice)

ANTI-SPAM: (Please Type Verification Word)
verification image, type it in the box

MESSAGE:

 

 












 

 

Canon 5D Mark IV Camera First Look
Canon has just announced the Canon 5D Mark IV Camera. This long awaited camera looks to have some great features with some beautiful options for underwater. Stay tuned for more information and reviews on the the camera.



Canon 1Dx Mark II Underwater Camera Review
Here at Backscatter we are fortunate to have a large customer base of professional underwater filmmakers. This year our conversations have revolved around three cameras: Red Weapon/EPIC Dragon, Sony a7R Mark II, and the new Canon 1DX II. We’ve had the chance to spend time in the water with all of the above, and each has their benefits and drawbacks. Here’s how the 1Dx Mark II stacks up...



Underwater TTL Reference Guide
TTL is an automatic strobe exposure system and a great tool for beginning underwater photographers. TTL systems will allow you to focus on strobe placement while it figures out the best strobe exposure. It’s not fail proof, but modern systems have become surprisingly accurate and help make underwater photography even more fun.



Nikon D500 Underwater Camera Review
The D500 is Nikon’s long awaited update to the D300. With blazing shooting speed and Nikon’s first dive into 4K video, see how this camera performs in the water in our full review with images and video.



10Bar Strobe Snoots - Underwater Snoot Review
Snoots are a great way to add more drama to your macro pictures and rekindle your love for all things small in the ocean. The 10Bar Snoot will narrow the beam of your strobe, concentrating the light on just the subject and not the surrounding reef. Aiming a snoot can be challenging so 10Bar added a laser pointer to see where the strobe light will land while you're framing your shot.



Sony a7R Mark II Underwater Review
The Sony A7R Mark II is a full frame mirrorless camera that shoots 42 MP stills, 4K video, and has low light capability that is second only to the best low light camera ever, the Sony A7S. Can the new A7R perform on all fronts as promised? Read on to see photos and 4K video from this revolutionary camera.


More Articles »



Newsletter
Backscatter
Backscatter Home Search Housing Finder Contact
    CHECK US OUT ON:  Backscatter on Facebook FACEBOOK   |   Backscatter on Twitter TWITTER BACKSCATTER UNDERWATER VIDEO & PHOTO
WEST COAST HEADQUARTERS / INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING
225 Cannery Row, Monterey, California 93940 USA
PHONE: +1-831-645-1082
FAX: +1-831-375-1526
SKYPE: backscatter_west
Showroom Hours
EAST COAST SHOWROOM
16 Manning Street, Suite 103, Derry, NH 03038 USA
PHONE: +1-603-432-1997
SKYPE: backscatter_east
Showroom Hours

EMAIL: sales@backscatter.com

PRODUCT INDEX LINKS:
Products by category
Products by part number

MEDIA LINKS:
Download Backscatter Logos

SHOP POLICIES:

Visit Our Help Center


©2016 BACKSCATTER UNDERWATER VIDEO & PHOTO, All Rights Reserved