The Camera
The Stylus Tough TG-4 has a 16.8mp BSI CMOS sensor, providing a resolution of 4608 x 3456 pixels. It features an ultra-bright 25-100mm f/2.0-4.9 lens with 4X optical zoom and a 3in 460k-dot LCD rear screen.
The camera will record images in both RAW and JPEG file formats and HD video at 1920 x 1080p @ 60fps in MOV format on a single SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card.
Native ISO starts at 100 and is expandable to 6400, and the camera’s shutter-speed range is from ½ sec to 1/2000th sec.
The Tough rating comes from the camera’s ability to be immersed in water as deep as 15m. It is said to withstand temperatures down to -10°C and a drop onto a hard surface from 2.1m. It’s also 100kg crushproof.
Images can be captured in Auto, Program or Aperture priority modes with the addition of 19 scene modes, including five specifically for underwater shooting.
The Stylus Tough TG-4 also features an advanced four-mode variable macro system, and has built in wi-fi, enabling instant downloading to a smart phone or tablet for sharing on social media. It also boasts a GPS feature for geo-tagging your images.

The Housing
The dedicated housing for the Tough TG-4 is built from polycarbonate and has a depth rating of 45m. The hinged clamshell-style back is O-ring-protected and transparent to aid the detection of incoming water, and all camera functions can be accessed from the housing.
The standard optical glass port is multi-coated to reduce inner reflections and has a 52mm screw thread to take Olympus’s range of auxiliary conversion lenses for wide-angle or macro photography.
The base of the housing has a standard tripod socket that allows a lighting tray and arm system to be attached, along with off-board underwater strobes triggered by standard Sea & Sea-type fibre-optic cables.

In Use
OK, that’s enough of the geek-speak – what you actually want to know is: “Was it any good under water”?
The short answer is, “that depends on your expectations”. Serious underwater photographers shoot almost exclusively in Manual mode, which gives them full control over shutter speed, aperture, white balance and ISO settings. Programmed modes such as Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Auto rely heavily on the camera’s on-board metering algorithms, which are invariably designed specifically for topside scenes, and lighting.
Shooting under water is a different game. The colours disappear as the depth increases, leaving a blue hue to everything. The range of light from very bright at the surface to almost black at depth appears in the same frame, and more often than not the camera sensors don’t recognise this and over-compensate, leaving a disappointingly washed-out, over-exposed final image.
The TG-4 doesn’t have a Manual mode. Instead Olympus has added underwater-scene algorithms, giving it the ability to capture useable underwater images in its dedicated Automatic modes.
I took the TG-4 with me on a few overseas photo trips and tried it in various scenarios. In the warm waters of Bali I took the bare camera snorkelling in the shallows, and this proved to be where it excelled.
Using it at shallow depths allowed for lots of light and colour, and with the camera set in Underwater mode I was able to record images of a local child duck-diving off the beach. With the lens zoomed out to its widest focal length, it recorded the scenes as my eye saw them.
In the Red Sea I placed the camera in the PT-056 housing and took it diving, but without a tray and arm system or off-board strobes.
The camera sensor seemed to cope less well without as much ambient light at the increased depth. Even set at its widest aperture of f/2.0 the Automatic modes boosted the ISO to a level that left noticeable noise in the final image and overcompensated the shadowed areas, leaving the bright portions over-exposed.
In Macro mode the images were much better, especially as the subjects could benefit from some light from the camera-integrated flash, resulting in usable shots. A single rechargeable li-ion battery that I found lasted for just under 300 shots powers the camera.

Other features
Digging through the shooting menus I found that the Tough TG-4 boasts an array of neat little gizmos and shooting options. I found that one very useful addition when shooting topside macro is the ability to capture eight consecutive images with the camera shifting focus on each shot from the front to the back, then merging them into a final “focus stacked” shot with massive depth of field.
Unfortunately this isn’t an option under water, as the camera and subject need to be completely stationary, and this just doesn’t happen beneath the waves.
There is also the option of merging differently exposed shots in-camera to produce High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. The same applies under water as with the focus-stacking feature – because of movement.
The variable macro system includes a microscope option. The subject can be magnified 44.5 times and can be captured just 1cm from the lens face.
This is a very exciting feature, but one that I didn’t find successful under water because of the lack of an auxiliary light source.

Here’s a small compact camera that can be taken down to 15m straight from the box. I know that is not nearly deep enough for most divers who want to record their underwater exploits, but with the addition of its dedicated housing this model can be taken beyond recreational depths.
A real advantage is the fact that if you are unfortunate enough to flood the PT-056 housing the TG-4 camera stands a chance of surviving the ordeal.
For me it was obvious that I would have to lower my expectations and not compare my results from the TG-4 with those taken with mirrorless or DSLR cameras.
With that in mind, I felt that the Stylus TG-4 was capable of capturing good images while submerged using the dedicated UW modes, and the addition of an off-camera lighting system and supplementary wet lenses would clearly have enhanced the results.
The Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4 will meet the demands of most divers who just want to shoot stills or video and share their adventures from both above and below the waves instantly on social media. That is exactly what it’s been designed and built to do.

PRICE: Combo camera/housing £575
DEPTH RATING: TG-4, 15m. PT-056, 45m
WEIGHTS: TG-4, 247g. PT-056, 430g
ADDITIONAL OPTIONS: Screw-on wet auxiliary lenses.
WEIGHT: Combined stages 1.03kg
(DIN with mp hose).
DIVER GUIDE, PT-056 8/10