Olympus TG-4 is first rugged compact to shoot uncompressed RAW photos

Olympus has introduced a new high-end rugged camera in its Stylus Tough series, the TG-4. It isn’t radically different than its predecessor, the TG-3, but Olympus says it’s the first rugged compact camera to offer uncompressed RAW capture and a new underwater high-dynamic range (HDR) mode.

Like the TG-3, the TG-4 uses a 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, TruePic VII image processor, and a fast f/2.0, 4x optical zoom lens (25mm wide-angle) that has a microscope macro mode that can magnify up to 44.5x. There’s Wi-Fi and GPS built in. The TG-4 retains its predecessor’s rugged attributes: waterproof down to 50 feet, crushproof to 220 pounds, freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof from 7 feet, and dustproof. Olympus says the crushproof rating is what makes its rugged cameras unique. Video recording is still Full HD 1080.

Shooting images in RAW means larger file sizes, but you have the benefit of greater adjustments to exposure, contrast, white balance, and color balance during post-editing, thanks to the extra information captured. Many casual users will be fine with JPEG for viewing and sharing, but advanced users will appreciate the option, especially when shooting in environments with challenging light. And with AF Target, you can tell the camera where you want it to focus.

Olympus Tough TG-4 highlights:

  • Uncompressed RAW image capture
  • Enhanced GPS accuracy, Wi-Fi
  • Underwater HDR, Nighttime Live Composite modes
  • Autofocus Target selection
  • Microscope Mode
  • 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor
  • 4x optical zoom lens with f/2.0 aperture at wide-angle

For the TG-4, Olympus added two custom modes on the mode dial, which you can use to save often-used settings. There’s a new Live Composite mode for shooting night scenes and star trails; from multiple shots, the camera takes the brightest areas and combine them to create the image. Another new mode is Underwater HDR that corrects color tones and exposure shifts – an issue when shooting in the water where lighting is an issue. GPS performance has also improved, thanks to use of additional satellites for more accuracy.

There are also new accessories to complement the TG-4. These include a Sport Holder for securing the camera to a backpack or belt and using it like an action camera, and an underwater case that increases the depth level.

Available in May 2015, the TG-4 will list for $380. It comes in black and red.

Since the TG-4 has similar specs to the TG-3, we can make some predictions. We appreciated the TG-3’s rugged qualities, great-looking underwater images, and the Super Macro microscope mode., and we expect the same from the TG-4. However, we found the TG-3’s low-res LCD and high ISO performance to be bummers; the TG-4 has the same specs, so we aren’t likely to see improvements on this front. The recently announced TG-860 has a flip-up LCD, but the TG-4 retains a fixed position. Still, we think the TG-4 is nice improvement, and the ability to capture in RAW is a good feature.

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