The New Underwater Olympus Is the Platypus of Cameras
Olympus’s latest ruggedized camera is an odd duck. Actually, it’s more like a platypus—a crazy mashup of ideas that somehow works. Let’s start with the name: The Stylus Tough TG-Tracker. That sounds like something you’d name a pickup, which is fitting, because this thing is about as tough as a truck.
If you’re the type of person who can use a harpoon gun, drinks large quantities of Red Bull, or owns a pair of crampons, this is the camera for your go-bag. Olympus designed it to be a go-anywhere, shoot-anything action camera. It’s like a Ricoh WG-M2 with better onboard instruments.
Beyond the name and optional green accents, the weirdness continues with a lens mounted on the side. It’s right under a light that puts out 60 lumens for a full minute and 30 lumens for 30 minutes—great for underwater photography or catching your midnight run down the mountain. The lens placement, combined with a 1.5-inch LCD screen that flips open and a pistol-grip attachment, make this rig well suited to capturing video of your extreme adventures. Think of it as a small camcorder with solid specs.
How solid? The pocketable TG-Tracker records 4K video at 30fps and 720p video at up to 120fps. For stills, a modest 8-megapixel resolution maintains reasonable pixel density on the 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. The 14mm/F2.0 lens captures an insane 204-degree field of view, which means the optics are wide enough to see a bit behind you. Finally, a camera that lets you capture Trent flipping you off in sharp detail after you’ve zipped past him on your dogsled.
Those are exactly the sorts of things Olympus imagines people shooting, so it protected the TG-Tracker with a freezeproof/waterproof/drop-proof frame and packed it with sensors galore. GPS, a compass, a barometer, an accelerometer, and a temperature gauge are all covered. You can use them all as standalone instruments, or pull off cool tricks like start recording once you’ve hit a specific speed or altitude. The camera ties all that data to your clips, and Olympus’s mobile app lets you navigate your footage on a map interface.
As good as it is on land, the TG-Tracker should be even more useful underwater. You can take it down 100 feet without a problem, and all those sensors tell the camera when it’s submerged. Olympus says the TG automatically adjusts the white-balance and exposure underwater, and it’ll keep foreground and background objects visible even when the headlight is on. Just don’t expect it to capture that shark sneaking up behind you: The field of view drops to 94 degrees when you’re underwater, and to 84 degrees if you’re using the 5-axis digital camera stabilization.
If this sounds like a great rig for your next adventure, you’ll be psyched to know that it should be here in time for summer vacation. The TG-Tracker ships next month for $350. That price includes a pistol grip, an underwater lens protector, and a selfie-mirror so you can shred El Colorado on a monoski while chugging Mountain Dew and post the evidence to Insta.