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Tough guy


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Tough guy

24 Mar 2021 7:48AM   Views : 500 Unique : 315


This oneís for Kate, who asked if anyone has a camera like her new one (a Nikon Coolpix W300) and what they did with it. And this made me think about the Olympus TG-5 I bought a few years ago, because my local studio has a swimming pool, and my Nikonos V is quite unwieldy and expensive to feed. The Olympus series have tended to get top ratings in group tests, but I suspect that all of the similar cameras are rather similar in every way (Fuji and Canon also make tough, waterproof models).


What I donít like is the absence of an eye-level viewfinder, the higher ISO performance, and the general lack of control Ė there are only three aperture settings, wide open, nearly wide open, and stopped down a lot. The exact aperture varies as you zoom: at the shortest setting, f/2, f/2.8 and f/8 are available.


Putting this in context, underwater, conventional viewfinders are useless, but armslength operation on land still feels wrong to me, as well as actually being less stable. Iím working on an elbows-in stance that still allows me to see the screen, but a proper viewfinder remains essential for me, really. The very short focal lengths involved (4.5mm to 18mm) mean that depth of field is always decent.


Getting the camera out to carry it around for the day, I discovered that there are plenty of things I didnít know about setting it. These range from the weird symbol for macro mode (a microscope, instead of the usual tulip, and on the mode dial instead of on the 4-way buttons) to how to lock focus (half-press the shutter release and press the OK button). I imagine that there are similar issues for similar models, and that you, too, can find solutions from YouTube Ė I found mine from Robin Dobb of Backscatter.


This highlights one of the things about any compact Ė that you will probably be much happier using one if you are used to Program mode, and not interested in differential focus. Also, that the subtleties of the controls may not be at all obvious in the way that they are with mirrorless and DSLR bodies. For simplicity and cost reasons, there are relatively few buttons, and many things are done through the menus, often a layer or two down, so that scrolling through the menu wonít necessarily tell you what you want to find out.


The quality is surprisingly good, I found. Keep away from the tricky areas, and it can go very well indeed. A point worth noting from my YouTube research is that using the central focus area beats the wider area, especially underwater: this may or may not apply to other brands, but the inaccuracies of focus-and-recompose will be eaten up by the enormous depth of field, even at maximum aperture.


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
24 Mar 2021 7:54AM
Doing the edits, I found that dynamic range is challenging - many shots have the histogram going off the scale at both ends. Results in good light are pleasing, though: underwater, when the light is poor and the water not necessarily very clear - it's hard work, and I need to put in more time if I'm ever going to get things right!

Thanks to Jessie-Jayne for coming out to play at Dolphin Studio, and to Dave (aka The Elbow) for practical instruction that helped me improve my shooting technique in the water no end! And I'm delighted to see that the Jubilee Pool in Truro will reopen late in April - swimming there was a fantastic and bracing experience. No mermaids, though, despite the authentic seawater.


Useful tip for all closeups, from Backscatter: turn down exposure two stops, and turn on the flash for closeups. The background will fade towards darkness. The 'microscope' setting works well!
kaybee Avatar
kaybee 19 8.7k 29 Scotland
24 Mar 2021 8:20AM
Shutter lag can be a bitch on compacts when trying to shoot fish underwater.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
24 Mar 2021 9:38AM
It's quite bad enough with mermaids, Roy...
chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.6k 684 England
24 Mar 2021 10:06AM
Love the third image here with the mermaid and that lovely shaft of light dancing through the water....without the toes at the bottom..obviously Wink
Never tried underwater stuff but the results look interesting.
Irishkate Avatar
Irishkate Plus
13 45 123 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2021 11:16AM
So interesting to see your results, John.
I wondered how the Coolpix would be with soapy suds, or water with food colouring
for arty images. Do you think it would ruin the camera?
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
24 Mar 2021 1:46PM
Well spotted, Kate! I was going to send you a message later...

I don't know for certain, but I suspect that all such cameras are designed to survive various nasty things in water - soap and food colouring are unlikely to do serious damage, I'd say. Indeed, one thing I've noticed is that it's often necessary to use soap or detergent to clean the lens cover glass after shooting in a pool or the sea, because of traces of sun oil, seat, maybe even marine engine oil.

Certainly, nothing bad will happen inside the camera, and I might try some poster paint on my camera as a test... Could make a good Silly Sunday shot...
dark_lord Avatar
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
24 Mar 2021 4:35PM

Quote:the weird symbol for macro mode (a microscope,

Olympus are well known for their microscopes so there could be a strange kind of logic going on there Grin
The Mermaid setting looks good though Smile
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
24 Mar 2021 4:59PM
That seems remarkably like Canon's logic in having a T (for time) mode when everyone else has S for shutter...

But yes, it makes sense, is a slightly parallel universe sort of a way!
JuBarney Avatar
JuBarney Plus
12 36 7 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2021 7:01PM
A splendid first image
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
24 Mar 2021 8:00PM
Round your neck of the woods, too, Ju, comparatively... The Engine Inn, up somewhere in the hills behind Truro.
JuBarney Avatar
JuBarney Plus
12 36 7 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2021 8:37PM
Google seems to think it is near Penzance
pink Avatar
pink Plus
20 7.5k 11 England
25 Mar 2021 7:36AM
Very interesting John, I bought a TG3 a few years ago mainly for family holidays around the pool or on the beach etc, sad to say that it now leaks, after not much use to be fair and I did take good care of it.
I was all for upgrading to the new model but it has put me off.
Some interesting images and food for thought
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
25 Mar 2021 10:15AM
Ju -

All of Cornwall is a Very Long Way from where I live, so I get confused. Sincere apologies! It's like the way people confuse Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Solihull, and even Coventry... You can tell I haven't spent much time in the area, I suspect!

Ian -

If it's strictly for underwater use, the cheaper Fuji alternatives may be a goer. One of the things that annoyed me, initially, was the need to buy a waterproof housing and various other costly accessories to exploit the thing properly: it might actually be rather cheaper to buy a housing for a DSLR or CSC, for anything beyond splashproofing work!
JuBarney Avatar
JuBarney Plus
12 36 7 United Kingdom
25 Mar 2021 4:45PM
Quote: " It's like the way people confuse Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Solihull, and even Coventry... "

You mean somewhere 'up North' !
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
25 Mar 2021 7:24PM
Thatís the badger!

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