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Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review

Reviewed: The Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3, the tough waterproof camera now features built-in Wi-Fi and a number of clever macro modes.

| Olympus Tough TG-3 in Compact Cameras


Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Olympus Tough Stylus TG 3 Black (2)

The Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3, is the latest update to the Olympus Tough TG-2, and adds built-in Wi-Fi, a 16 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, as well as new macro shooting features. The TG-3 features the same bright f/2.0 4x optical zoom lens, 3inch screen and tough credentials, being waterproof to 15 metres, crushproof, and shockproof from 2.1metres.

Olympus Tough TG-3 Features

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Olympus Tough Stylus TG 3 Black (3)

A unique feature of the TG-3 is the ability to add fisheye and tele converter lenses via an optional adapter. We tested the Olympus Tough TG-1 with the fisheye adapter in our review here. Additional attachments are available, including a new  LED Light Ring flash, designed to improve macro lighting.

The TG-3 features in-camera panorama shooting, Art / Magic Filters, HDR Backlight shots, Advanced iAuto and AF Tracking, Face Detection and Advanced SAT (Shadow Adjustment Technology). Other additional features include interval shooting and time-lapse movie shooting, where the camera will automatically turn images into a Time Lapse Movie lasting up to 10 sec. The movie is recorded in 720p at 10fps.

The TG-3 offers four macro modes: Microscope, Microscope Control (maximum 44.5x magnification from 1cm, using digital zoom), Focus Bracketing and Focus Stacking - multiple images are taken from foreground to background, and the areas in focus are automatically merged into one shot in camera. 

As well as being waterproof down to 15 metres, it is also shockproof from 2.1 metres, has GPS & Electronic Compass, Tap Control, Manometer and LED Illuminator. Videos can be recorded in full HD at 1080p with HDMI Control and Multi-motion Movie IS, there is also stereo sound, and high-speed video modes.

Wi-Fi connectivity adds remote shooting possibilities as well as the ability to share images from your smartphone to popular social media networks, using the O.I. Share app.

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Olympus Tough Stylus TG 3 Black (7)

Key Features

  • 16 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor
  • 4x optical zoom lens, f/2.0, 25-100mm equivalent
  • Sensor shift image stabilisation
  • 3inch screen, 460k dots
  • Waterproof to 15m, Shockproof to 2.1m, Crushproof to 100kg
  • Wi-Fi, GPS & Electronic Compass
  • 1080p Full HD Movie and HDMI Control
  • High speed video 240fps
  • 5fps continuous shooting at full resolution, 60fps at 3mp
  • ISO 100-6400
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance
  • Aperture priority mode
  • HDR Backlight Adjustment
  • In-Camera Panorama
  • Manometer, Tap control, LED illuminator
  • 4:3, 1:1, 16:9, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Available in red or black

Olympus Tough TG-3 Handling

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Olympus Tough Stylus TG 3 Black (4)

Handling - There is a good amount of rubber grip on the camera, particularly on the front. The camera feels extremely well built with a chunky style, and each of the openings features a dual locking system to ensure they stay closed when you are using the camera underwater. The mode dial has been improved compared to the previous model, with a chunkier texture, and the rest of the buttons feel large enough to use when wet, as well as being clearer to see than the TG-2. The camera has an aperture priority mode that lets you set the aperture, with f/2.0, f/2.8 and f/8,0 available at the wide end of the lens, and f/4.9, f/6.3, and f/18 available when fully zoomed. The camera has an updated zoom control. 

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Olympus Tough Stylus TG 3 Black (5)

Menus – The menus are clearly laid out and easy to navigate with a press of the left arrow bringing up the photo options on screen, so that you can see the changes the options make. To access the full menu options you scroll to the bottom of the list, or press the menu button, where you'll find more advanced options as well as setup options for GPS, Tough, Wi-Fi and Custom settings.
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Olympus Tough Stylus TG 3 Black (6)

Wi-Fi features - Built-in Wi-Fi gives the ability to use a smartphone for remote shutter release, and setting up the connection is very easy as you simply need to scan a QR code on the camera screen using the O.I.Share app. You can download and share images, apply art filters and other effects, as well as use the app to geo-tag images. 

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Ioshare Remote Shooting Tg3 Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Oishare Tg3 Playback Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Oi Share Tg3 Editing
Touch AF Remote Shooting Playback image selection Art filters


Battery life - Battery life is rated at 380 shots according to CIPA / Olympus testing. The battery is a 1350mAh rated unit, so provides a decent amount of battery life, although extended use of GPS will reduce battery life.

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Olympus Tough Stylus TG 3 Black (1)

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05s
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.15s
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.15s
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 0.9s
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.5s
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.7s
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5fps (17 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 1.3s

Focus and shutter response are both very good, as is switch on time and shot to shot times.

Olympus Tough TG-3 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Olympus Tough TG-3 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Colour is good with the camera giving reliable exposure. There is very little red-eye in portrait photos with flash. Using the HDR backlight scene mode, the camera takes a number of shots and combines them into one with extended dynamic range. Alternatively you can switch on shadow adjustment technology to keep detail in shadows.

Olympus Tough TG-3 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Detail is reasonably good for a camera with internal folded optics, although corners are slightly soft, and purple fringing was noticeable in some shots, as well as some chromatic aberration. The camera does a good job of controlling barrel and pincushion distortion, with no real issues spotted, although lens flare can be an issue with the sun in the frame. It's also important to ensure that the lens is clean as there is no built-in lens cover with this camera.

The macro mode is now called 'Microscope' mode, and the camera has a built in focus-stacking feature that combines a number of shots at 8megapixels. The camera focuses on subjects just 1cm away from the lens, even when using the 4x optical zoom. Lighting the subject can be an issue, and even with the LED illuminator it's difficult to correctly illuminate the subject, so the optional LED ring flash adapter is recommended, although in good light the results are impressive. Focus bracketing settings let you choose from 10, 20 or 30 frames, and a tripod is recommended. Unfortunately this doesn't let you change how many are shot in the focus stacking mode. The Focus bracketing mode shoots at the full 16 megapixel resolution, and will be of interest for those who wish to combine photos later using software like Adobe Photoshop, or other dedicated photo stacking apps.

Olympus Tough TG-3 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Some noise is visible at ISO100, and increases at ISO200, and ISO400. As noise increases at ISO800 detail starts to become lost, and more so at ISO1600. Noise is dominant at ISO3200 and above, and these settings are best avoided. Noise results are better with Shadow Adjustment Technology switched off, as this boosts shadows, which also boosts noise levels.

Olympus Tough TG-3 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a slightly warm result under tungsten light, with the tungsten preset giving a more neutral result. AWB performs well under fluorescent lighting with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta colour cast.

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review: Panoramic | 1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100
Panoramic | 1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100

Panorama mode - Using the panoramic mode you press the shutter release button and then pan the camera, lining up the dot shown on screen. The panoramic mode does a good job of stitching the photos together, and produces an image with good detail and resolution.

Olympus Tough TG-3 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The camera has a number of magic filters, Art filters, and Photo Story mode, as shown above, giving a number of creative options.

Video - The camera records full HD video with stereo sound, and optical zoom is available while recording, as well as a built in wind-filter. When using the optical zoom, the noise of the lens is picked up by the camera, as can be heard in the video below. You can view a high speed video recorded at 120fps on YouTube, or at 240fps here.


Value For Money

The Olympus Tough TG-3 is available for around £265 (in red) which makes it slightly more expensive than other waterproof cameras, although the only other camera with such a bright f/2.0 lens is the Ricoh WG-4 GPS. Other cameras with similar waterproof features include the following:

Ricoh WG-4 GPS, 14m waterproof, GPS, £199
Nikon Coolpix AW120, 18m waterproof, Wi-Fi, GPS, £199
Canon Powershot D30, 25m waterproof, GPS, £230
Panasonic Lumix FT5, 13m waterproof, Wi-Fi, GPS, £249
Fujifilm FinePix XP70, 10m waterproof, Wi-Fi, £129

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Olympus Tough TG-3 Verdict

The Olympus Tough TG-3 is a rugged waterproof camera with full HD video recording, a bright f/2.0 lens, and an extremely impressive macro mode. The camera gives some level of manual controls with an aperture priority mode. Images are good, with excellent colour reproduction, although detail is not as good as it could be. We were also disappointed by the lens noise picked up during video recording. The camera responds quickly, and has 5fps continuous shooting at full resolution. Rather uniquely the camera can also use adapters including a fish-eye, or 1.7x telephoto convertor lens giving additional shooting options. 

The Olympus Tough TG-3 includes a number of improvements over the previous model, a 16 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, built-in Wi-Fi, advanced macro features, including focus stacking (in-camera), as well as focus bracketing. The HDR mode has been updated to shoot at the full 16 megapixel resolution, something we mentioned in our TG-2 review. It's also possible to get better macro illumination with the optional ring LED flash adapter, another complaint from our TG-2 review. Olympus has also resolved another of our complaints, with a much improved panoramic mode. Improved battery life is welcome, although the predecessor wasn't too bad. If you are looking for a tough waterproof camera, and would like to have the option to expand your kit with adapters, or love taking close up macro photos, then the Olympus Tough TG-3 is recommended.

  Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 Review:
  The Olympus Tough TG-3 adds Wi-Fi and impressive macro features to an already great camera. 

Olympus Tough TG-3 Pros

Good colour reproduction
Fast focus and performance
2 year warranty
Aperture priority mode
Excellent macro mode
Built in focus-stacking macro feature!
Extremely tough
Magic filters
Availability of lens adapters
Bright f/2.0 lens

Olympus Tough TG-3 Cons

Noise of lens focusing and zooming in videos
Noise visible at low ISO settings



Olympus Tough TG-3 Specifications

Max Aperturef/2 - f/4.9
35mm equivalent25mm - 100mm
Optical Zoom4x
Image Sensor
Pixels16Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 3:2
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest1/2sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Spot
  • ESP Light Metering
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLI-92B Lithium-Ion Battery
Battery Life (CIPA rating)380shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsLI-92B Lithium-Ion Battery, F-2AC AC Adapter, CB-USB8 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Hand Strap, World Wide Warranty Card, Image Management Software

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Photographs taken using the Olympus Tough TG-3

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