After a lot of hassle and unusable footage with our actioncam that can handle either water or sound recording at the same time I couldn’t resist when I stumbled over the just recently released Olympus TG-870 that is waterproof, has a proper viewfinder and is just all-around much better than an action camera can be. On our most recent magnet fishing trip I had some good chance to get in-depth impressions so let me share my opinion with you.
The most notable and – to me when magnet fishing – most important feature is the waterproof camera body, you can take it down to 3 meters if you like to, all without a seperate case. That means the camera can record audio right after getting out of the water so I can comment on finds I make, talk a bunch of nonsense and just make the video a whole lot more interesting than some footage with more or less annoying music in the background. We worked around this problem before by having one of us film everything with my normal camera but by doing so we always had to have someone film, losing valuable time in the process. Now I can just mount it to a chest mount and film whenever I find something cool.
That chest mount part is where this camera really shines, it can mount to any of the gopro / action camera mounts available on the market, and by mounting it with a quick release I can take it off whenever I want to film something in greater detail.
The TG-870 has a viewfinder or screen – which I consider a severe disadvantage on all action cameras, even if they do have a screen they are up on your head normally and you can’t use it. In addition the screen on the TG-870 is tiltable upwards, either for selfie style shots or so I can better see what I’m filming while the camera is in its chest mount. That feature alone puts the camera miles ahead of any action cameras on the market.
After testing the camera out in water while swimming I now trust it 100% in regards to being rugged and waterproof.
If you are interested in image quality check out the video I linked above, I am absolutely satisfied with it, even though some people on Amazon reviews think it is absolutely horrible and not up to their DSLRs. Duh. I think the TG-870 produces really good video.
I also like some of the clever features on it, for example the second shutter button on the front if you do use the selfie screen as intended, two tripod mounting points (one on the bottom, one on the left), the lanyard mount and if you use it the TG-870 even has WiFi and GPS built right in. I’m still not quite sure how that would be useful for what I do, but it’s nice to see it implemented. All-In-All I think you get an upper mid-range camera for the price of an entry level camera that is waterproof and well thought-out, maybe more than most other beginner or consumer level cameras.
So far the only negative points I could find are that the selfie-button apparently only takes pictures (there might be an option to change that though, I haven’t looked yet.) and the fact that when you get it there is no external charger so you have to use the – included, propietary – cable to charge the battery while inside the camera. I ordered a charger right away and so I can’t really say anything bad about the camera itself.
Now let me quickly compare it to the bigger brother TG-4 that a lot of people – including my all-time favourite metal detectorist and river treasure hunter Aquachigger – use. While the TG-4 does apparently have a slightly better image sensor – again the TG-870 takes great pictures and video – it misses the tiltable screen that I have grown to love in just one day and wouldn’t want to miss. So as far as I am concerned the more expensive TG-4 actually loses against its smaller brother, but that’s just my opinion.
To summarize the Olympus TG-870 does a great job at solving quite a few problems not too many people might have, but those who do will surely appreciate just how great this little and compact camera is.