We are camera geeks and own several Video and Photo setups. From professional 6K video cameras until high end DSLRs. And we use and dive them a lot. But the newest member in our camera family is rather small: The Olympus TG-4. From now on it will be available for Rental at NAD-Lembeh and also for our Dive Guides to use when they don’t have guests. We are housing the TG-4 in the Nauticam TG-3 Housing.
Now you’ll ask yourself why we are getting such a small and compact camera. Especially as Lembeh is all about tiny critters, which usually request bigger setups and closeup lenses. The reason is, that this small camera actually has way more features than its proportions might suggest. It is waterproof to 15 meters and shockproof to 2.1 meters. Quite an advantage for a rental item and day-to-day camera for the dive team. Another advantage is, that the TG-4 is capable of recording in RAW format. But the main reason is the built in Microscope Mode which enables the TG-4 to perform as a real super macro camera.
Olympus TG-4 under water
So far I took the camera out for two dives: One dive with constant light and one dive with a manual controlled strobe. Both worked really well … but I think I preferred the use of the strobe. The Hairy Shrimp and the Orange Frogfish have been shot on the first dive with a snooted torch. I tried higher ISO and half power on the torch with the Hairy Shrimp to see how the TG-4 would perform when no strong torch is available. But the Noise on ISO values above 100 is rather disappointing. So I took all other torch and strobe images on ISO 100.
When using the Microscope Mode you can also zoom in a little bit to get more magnification. This is very useful as it helps you maintaining a greater working distance. And as long as you don’t go into the digital zoom you will not loose image quality. With the maximum amount of zoom I could compose Hairy Shrimps and other tiny Critters.
I left the camera for most of the time in the Microscope mode on ISO 100 and just zoomed a bit in or out – depending on the subject. As the Camera does not have a manual mode I ended up using the Exposure Compensation as the only other setting. I chose to dial it all down to -2 to get darker areas in the non illuminated areas of the picture and a better over all contrast.