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Olympus TG-320 Tough Digital Camera Review

olympus20120501ca.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Keith Parsons

 

If you are after a camera that you can throw in your backpack when travelling or leave bouncing around in your glovebox on a 4WD trip then look no further than a camera in Olympus's 'Tough' fleet.

The Olympus TG-320 is a rugged action camera able to be used in the the most hardy of conditions. It sits at the lower end of Olympus's 5 camera “Tough” range, although do not be fooled as it packs a lot in for a sub $300 camera. 

 

Appearance & Functionality


The first thing you will notice about the camera is its bold colour scheme. It comes in either blue or red and is complimented by some rather striking silver highlights. The camera body feels solid and is constructed out of a metal case with rubberised buttons.

The actual shape of the camera is the traditional point and shoot rectangular style and misses out on any real hand holds. Though a rubber hand grip would be beneficial it still sits in the hands well.

olympus20120501cb.jpgAll of the navigational buttons sit on the back panel of the camera leaving just the power and shutter release buttons on top. It is this simple layout that ensures less openings in the body casing and has resulted in Olympus delivering a properly sealed camera for underwater usage.

Menu navigation is a breeze with this camera due to its precise navigational buttons and well set out menus. A camera in this price range does not need to confuse its user with over technical menu functions and the olympus gives the user a great balance. The playback menu also delivers clear full screen reviews of images and very generously sized movie playback keeping details to a minimum.

The TG-320 offers a number of shooting modes including Auto, Program, Panorama, Magic, Scene and 3D. 'Magic' has been introduced to the Olympus range recently and allows the user to create stylised photos with a set of 8 effects. The more usable effects are the 'Pinhole' (creates a vignette) and 'Pop Art' filters (heavily saturated colours) whilst a number of the other filters like soft focus might be of less interest. 3D mode takes two photos one after the other and combines them for optimal viewing on a 3D TV, a great feature as long as you own a 3D TV that is.

The waterproof depth range on the camera is listed at around 3m and really you would need some serious scuba gear if planning on going any deeper than this. Though the 3m range would easily accommodate activities such as surfing and snorkelling.

Olympus have not just simply created an underwater camera here. The camera lives up to the name tough as its able to absorb shocks of up to 1.5m meters and also allows the user the freedom to operate it in the snow with a functioning range down to -10°C.

Another important function for an action camera is its optical stabilisation technology, basically its the cameras ability to keep the footage free from blur related with motion, during an exposure. The Olympus offers quite good stabilisation in both movie and still shooting and gives the option of turning either off if not required.

A great little feature of the camera is its on board help menus. A separate button (denoted by a ?) gives access to a clear set of help topics as well as search functions to help you find what you want to learn about. For a camera designed for those with perhaps not a lot of digital camera experience this is a fantastic addition. 

 

Image Quality / Lens Quality


When shooting at 80 ISO the images show no overly visible signs of noise and it is only when the camera pushes beyond 250 ISO that noise is visible in the darker shadow areas. Though the camera is capable of pushing right up to 1600 ISO you would find your images taken at this ISO would be better suited to small prints only. For a compact camera this is fine though as you would not expect noiseless images from a sensor of this size.

olympus20120501cc.jpgThe camera offers 14 megapixels in full resolution and will easily provide a decent A3 print. Although the lower you go with the quality settings you will begin to notice less detail and therefore I would recommend keeping the megapixel settings ramped up unless you intend to view them on a mobile phone or web.

The TG-320 uses a 28-102mm lens that offers a decent although not exceptional range. The lens also lacks a aperture range only opening up to F3.5 at its widest point. This said Olympus do however have a reputation for high quality glass in their lenses and the TG-320 is no exception as even shooting through the waterproof lens screen the images appear sharp. 

 

LCD Screen / Viewfinder


olympus20120501cd.jpgThe TG-320 offers up a 2.7 inch LCD with a resolution of around 230,000 dots. This is adequate though not not fantastic. Your images will appear clean and crisp although when zooming wight in your may begin to see the limits of an on camera LCD and viewing on a monitor at a later date will reveal a better photograph.

The LCD, like almost all LCD's becomes hard to view in direct sunlight although does have a high level of brightness to view in darker situations. It also performs very well underwater!

 

Video

 

Movie recording is done in a number of the modes although there is no designated movie mode. This is a great feature however as recording is accessed via the prominent red movie recording button on the back panel, minimising any stuffing around between switching modes and ensuring the action is never missed. You are able to record in 720p HD, VGA or QVGA sizes with the 720p HD providing very satisfying results when played back on a television or HD monitor. It is a slight shame that the TG-320 doesn't offer 1080p FULL HD video though this can be overlooked at this price.

 

 

 

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Conclusion

 
Whilst you can spend endless amounts of money on equipping yourself for underwater shooting the TG-320 offers a very competitive option for those who perhaps like the capability of shooting underwater but do not want to overspend.

Incorporating a decent lens, sturdy construction, operation in -10°C, fantastic navigation and onboard help menus is something you would be hard pressed to find for $249.95.

 

Accessories Used During Testing:

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SD Card 

Tamrac Pro Compact Digital / 5689 Camera Bag 

 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Olympus TG-320 

 

 
Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
3.5 stars
Video quality
3 stars
Lens quality
3.5 stars
LCD screen (Rear)
3.5 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price
$249.95
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 14 Mega pixels
Sensor Type
1/2.3" CCD sensor
Image Sizes 8
Lens 5.0 - 18.2mm (28 - 102mm equivalent 35mm)
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills 14MP (4,288 x 3216)
8MP (3,264 x 2,448)
5MP (2,560 x 1,920)
3MP (2,048 x 1,536)
2MP (1,600 x 1,200)
VGA (640 x 480)
16:9 L (4,288 x 2,416)
16:9 S (1,920 x 1,080)
Resolution Settings: Video 720p (1280x720), VGA (640x480), QVGA (320x240)
GPS No
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority No
Shutter Priority
No
Shutter Speeds 1/4 - 1/2000 s / < 4 s (Night scene)
ISO Auto, High Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
LCD Monitor 2.7" LCD 230K dots
Viewfinder -
Flash Yes, built-in (GN 5.8)
Hot Shoe No
White Balance Auto, Presets (Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Fluorescent1, and Underwater)
Self Timer 12 and 2 seconds
Stills Format/s
JPEG
Video Format/s MP4
Video Recording Time/s -
Storage Type - External SD/SDHC/SDXC
Storage Type - Internal
19.5MB
Connectivity USB 2.0 High Speed, HDMI (CB-HD1 Type D); AV cable (CB-AVC3)
Power Source In-camera via USB, optional LI-41C external charger
Battery Options LI-42B
Battery Life Approx. 190 shots
Dimensions 96.3 mm (W) x 63.4mm (H) x 22.7mm (D)
Weight 155g
















 


 

 
 

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About Olympus

 

In Greek mythology, Mt.Olympus is the home of the twelve supreme gods and goddesses. Olympus was named after this mountain to reflect its strong aspiration to create high quality, world famous products.

"Olympus" has been used as a trademark since the time of Takachiho Seisakusho, the predecessor of Olympus Corporation.

In Japanese mythology, it is said that eight million gods and goddesses live in Takamagahara, the peak of Mt.Takachiho. The name "Olympus" was selected as the trademark because Mt.Olympus, like Mt.Takachiho, was the home of gods and goddesses. This trademark is also imbued with the aspiration of Olympus to illuminate the world with its optical devices, just like Takamagahara brought light to the world.

Takachiho Seisakusho was renamed Takachiho Optical Co., Ltd. in 1942 when optical products became the mainstay of the company. In 1947, the name was changed again to Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. in an attempt to enhance its corporate image.

And in 2003, the company made a fresh start as Olympus Corporation, to show its willingness to establish a dynamic corporate brand by unifying the corporate name and the well-known brand.

In recent years, Olympus Corporation has focused on "Opto-Digital Technology" as its core competence, technological strengths that competitors cannot easily imitate, to maximize corporate value and to become one of the top optical instrument manufactures.

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