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Olympus Stylus TG-Tracker: For the great outdoors

Olympus Stylus TG-Tracker gives sharp still images and videos.
Olympus Stylus TG-Tracker gives sharp still images and videos.PHOTO: OLYMPUS

This is one action camera that can take a lot of punishment

The Olympus Stylus TG-Tracker camera is not your usual action camera. It is a tough action camera that can take some punishment.

It can be submerged to a depth of 30m, stand up to 100kg of crushing forces, resist freezing temperatures as low as -10 deg C and withstand drops from a height of 2.1m.

But since I don't dive or explore the Arctic, my own toughness tests for it are less demanding. And the camera survived being used for underwater shooting at depths of 1m for 30min.

The camera comes with built-in GPS, a compass, a barometer, an accelerometer and a thermometer to capture all the relevant data, whether you shoot photos or videos, during your dives in the sea or when you are hiking up a mountain.

A built-in five-axis image stabiliser helps ensure the 7.2-megapixel still images and 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) videos you capture are sharp.

The camera looks like a miniature version of its tough compact cousin, the TG-870, but with a different orientation. A 204-degree ultra- wide-angle lens is sited on what would usually be the side of a compact camera, like with a video camcorder. There is an LED headlamp on top of the lens to provide extra lighting when you want to capture that clown fish among the corals.

Just behind the headlamp and on top of the camera is a large shutter release button.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $588

    IMAGE SENSOR: 7.2-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS

    LENS: Fixed 13.9mm f/2.0

    DISPLAY: Tiltable 1.5-inch LCD with 115,200 dots

    SENSITIVITY: Auto

    CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 180g (with battery and memory card)

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

There are the Menu, OK, Left and Right buttons on the camera's top as well.

You press the OK button to access the modes available - Video, Photo, Time-lapse, Setup and Play. Press Left or Right to cycle through these modes.

In each mode, press Menu to change the current settings. For example, in Video mode, you can press to change the video resolution or white balance.

The Photo mode does not allow you to change many settings, other than image size, white balance, field of view and exposure compensation. You can shoot only in auto mode.

Unlike many action cameras, the TG-Tracker has a tilt-out 1.5-inch display that lets you compose your shots. It would be great if the display is rotatable for selfies.

During live view, you can press the Right button to toggle through panels that display the compass, coordinates, atmospheric pressure and altitude.

On the other side of the camera, there is a lever that turns the camera on and off, as well as puts it in Log mode.

Activating this mode allows the camera to capture information about location, direction, atmospheric pressure, altitude and temperature. The data is saved in a log file, which can be transferred to your phone using the Olympus Image Track app (available on Android and iOS).

If you take photos with your smartphone, the app will automatically combine the logged statistics with the photo you have shot.

During a hike up Mount Faber, I found the tracking accurate enough to point out the minimum and maximum elevation, as well as the vertical distance I achieved.

The package comes with a grip that you can attach to the bottom of the TG-Tracker. The grip looks like a pistol grip and I wonder if you might be pulled up by the police when you walk on the street with it. I wish the grip has a shutter-release trigger, so you can take photos or videos more easily.

For its class and size, the video quality of the TG-Tracker is surprisingly sharp, especially with 4K videos. You also do not get excessive ambient or wind audio.

The still-image quality is equally sharp. However, for underwater shots, images tend to be a bit soft.

Battery life is quite good for an action camera - around 480 still images or up to 90min of videos on a full charge.

• Verdict: Apart from some minor quirks, the Olympus Stylus TG-Tracker is a great action camera to take along for your outdoor adventures.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Olympus Stylus TG-Tracker: For the great outdoors'. Print Edition | Subscribe