This article won't be so much about camera geekery. That's because I don't even know how to run all the stuff on this thing.....yet. I've no need to, but since this camera can do movies, RAW, and can be run manually, I probably will delve into these things, someday. To be perfectly honest, I didn't buy this camera because it could do those things, I bought it because it has decent image quality and you were supposedly supposed to be able to treat it like a farm animal and have it survive. I didn't want a camera I had to worry about in my jersey pocket, bouncing around in my top tube bag, or be concerned about dust, snow, and rain. The price wasn't astronomical, and the physical size of the camera was right for me. So, now with that out of the way, here's how I used it most often.
|The Olympus Tough TG-3 after one year of heavy use.|
As a camera to shoot with while riding, it is a bit heavy, weight-wise. The "On" button is recessed so that, while wearing gloves, it is nigh unto impossible to get the camera up and running 100% of the time. I've missed shots because of this. That "On" button is at a weird angle too, which doesn't help, but without gloves, it can be managed. One other thing to note- The rotating selector wheel on the back of the camera is easily knocked out of its selection, so when you grab the camera out of the bag, it could be set between "Auto" and "Microscope", for instance. The camera will still get your image, but it takes six or so consecutive shots at a lower resolution and file size. Annoying at best and maddening at worst. This happens ALL the time. I've gotten to looking at the dial before I shoot when there is time to. Too bad the detents weren't a little more positive on that dial which would help prevent this.
|The opposing locks on the battery/SD card door and the USB port doors can become unlocked without you doing anything.|
|High wear areas concern me on the TG-3|
Another concern I have is how the plastic body parts are showing high wear in corners and along edges. I have to think that at some point this will compromise the integrity of the TG-3 and adversely affect its lifespan or performance, or both. Yes- I probably could buy a protective case for this. However; I find this offensive, in that this camera is supposed to be a knock-about camera and putting something around it will only add to its bulk and weight. Both things I am loathe to do.
Finally, the LCD on the back of the camera is not anything specially rated for abuse, as far as I can tell. It has become all but useless in bright sunshine due to all the abrasions it has accumulated over the course of being along for the rides this past year. You'd think this might be someplace a wise engineer might have done something to give the TG-3 a little bit something different that would actually, you know, be tough. I guess that's too much to ask for.
Verdict: After a year of heavy use, doing what the camera was designed to do, I cannot fault the features that are related to the image taking here. However; the "Tough" part of the TG-3 is lacking, in my view. I feel that in another year, this camera will be done for, not because the feature set for image taking will have failed, but because the tough part will have failed. The doors need to be better secured, so that the locks cannot randomly come undone, allowing the elements a chance to get inside. The case needs to be beefed up in the high wear areas, like the corners and edges, right out of the box, so the body won't wear through in a short period of time. Also, there has to be a better, tougher LCD screen treatment or material that will withstand scratching and abrasive environments. Things this camera is supposed to be good at dealing with.
These cameras go for about $350.00 now, which is okay, but I would not buy this again. There has to be a better way to go, and unless Olympus addresses the concerns I have about this camera, I won't recommend it to anyone I know that actually uses cameras during adventures. Heck- one episode of those doors working themselves open and a bit of water? Poof! $350.00 down the tubes. No thanks.
I'll be starting another replacement search pronto........