Question: My family loves photography, and I would like to get my husband a good compact camera to carry around with him. Unfortunately he has broken several iPhones and I don't want to spend a lot of money on something that will meet the same fate. Do you have a recommendation for a camera that can take abuse yet has good photographic quality?
Answer: Check out the Olympus Tough TG-2. I tested one recently, and it impressed me in every regard.
Just holding the camera is a pleasure. It is solid to hold and has a jewel-like finish that says, "high-end." It has a 4x optical zoom that starts at a fast f/ 2.0 and a wide angle setting perfect for group pictures and landscapes.
The high-resolution (for a compact) OLED screen is crisp and colorful. The camera features a microscope mode for extreme close-ups, art filters, 1080p video recording with stereo sound, and 60 fps high-speed shooting. The TG-2 is dust-proof, freeze-proof to 14 F, crushproof (220 pounds supported), can go underwater to a depth of 50 feet and can take a 7-foot drop without damage. (Sounds like a good camera for a Navy SEAL, doesn't it?)
Specs are one thing, real-world demonstrations are another. I was at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler, B.C., this year. Olympus is a major sponsor, and it maintains a booth at the bottom of the mountain, probably because the ski and snowboard crowd is an ideal market for its Tough line of cameras.
Olympus reps took a TG-2 and froze it in a solid block of ice, thawed it and started taking pictures again. They threw the camera through the air to have it land on the ski slopes, skied over it, and dropped it. It just kept going. I am confident it will hold up far better than your husband's iPhones.
I have tested rugged cameras in the past, and few have impressed me with their picture-taking ability. It seems that too much of the manufacturing expense went into the rugged construction, and not enough to the picture-taking guts inside. The TG-2 proved to be an exceptional picture taker in all conditions.
Olympus claims "amazing pro image quality," and after seeing the pictures I can't argue much with that. Outdoor pictures were exceptionally clean and sharp, with realistic colors and accurate flesh tones. Flash pictures had even, accurate light quality throughout the image, with no redeye to be found. The TG-2 also features one of the easiest, simplest sweep panorama modes I have ever had the pleasure of using. Video sound and image quality were exceptional as well.
The image quality and features alone justify the price of $379. When you add the all-weather, all-condition capability to the mix, it becomes a bargain for what it is and what it does.
If you choose to freeze yours in a block of ice before using it, be sure to have an extra battery handy because after being frozen in a block of ice for a while, the camera's battery will be down on power until it warms up a bit. See more at www.getolympus.com.
Read product reviews by Don Lindich at soundadviceblog.com