Field camera for Ecologists: Olympus Tough TG4

For a long time I pondered the best camera to carry with me as a field ecologist. Undertaking commercial ecology fieldwork doesn’t generally permit the time for taking wildlife photos and my DSLR and lens were too heavy to lug over mountain and moor anyway. The iPhone seemed a good option for taking record shots of target note features or generally scenery shots but after two ‘death by drowning’ events on phones something had to change.  A waterproof camera was required.

After some careful research and a lot of very useful comments from other ecologists and adventure sports enthusiasts one camera came out on top: the Olympus Tough TG4

 

The Olympus Tough TG4 - a smart, compact camera that's waterproof!

The Olympus Tough TG4 - a smart, compact camera that's waterproof!

The rear of the camera has a large display screen and easy to use controls.

The rear of the camera has a large display screen and easy to use controls.

Little did I realise that this camera would become my new favourite bit of kit travelling everywhere with me. Why is it so good?

·      Quick and easy to use – literally a point and shoot

·      Waterproof down to 15m (you never have to worry about flooding ever again!), and doubles up nicely if you’re into snorkeling and diving.

·      Small and compact- it fits in your pocket or clips onto your belt

·      Superb macro – the macro capabilities of this point and shoot are outstanding and great for snapping passing invertebrates or flowers

·      GPS tagged images – ideal for incorporating into GIS layers but remember not to upload tagged images of protected species to public sites!

·      It takes SD and SDHC cards and cards from a USB drive.

 

A Bog Orchid macro taken with the TG4, incredible quality for such a tiny camera.

A Bog Orchid macro taken with the TG4, incredible quality for such a tiny camera.

A Black Darter with a rain drop on its eye taken with the TG4

A Black Darter with a rain drop on its eye taken with the TG4

The TG4 is perfectly at home being dunked into rock pools to capture the superb underwater habitats.

The TG4 is perfectly at home being dunked into rock pools to capture the superb underwater habitats.

And the downsides:

Very few to be honest the biggest for wildlife enthusiast is the limited zoom (4x), however for folk that want to take good, long distance wildlife shots, a DSLR is essential.

The TG4 has now been superseded by the TG5 and by all accounts this camera is even better.

The TG4 is available from around £265 whilst the TG5 comes in at £100 more.

For anyone who needs to take field images at potentially wet sites and also enjoys getting high quality macros then the Olympus Tough is a must-have! 

If you want to have a look at more macro images taken with the Olympus Tough TG4 check out our Facebook Page: The Field Ecologist.

This little camera is even happy at deeper depths (down to 15m) and produces some superb images, the subject helps of course!

This little camera is even happy at deeper depths (down to 15m) and produces some superb images, the subject helps of course!

Dan Brown