The choice for a super durable action camera is about to get very interesting, as Olympus throws its hand into the mix, returning to a world it helped make popular.
In fact, if you’ve ever owned a tough camera, there’s a good chance it was an Olympus. Before the humble action camera became a staple in the backpack and hand of every extreme sports hero and surfer, tough cameras were the goto item if you needed a camera to survive water, snow, and the expectation of drops.
Olympus has previously made some superbly solid entries in this area, but ever since the GoPro rocked up, we’ve seen the company go silent, even though other players like Panasonic and Sony were building their own equivalents.
But it turns out Olympus might have just been biding its time and coming up with its own concept, because this week, we have an answer: the TG Tracker.
A little different than merely “another action camera”, the Olympus TG Tracker borrows from design inspiration Olympus has previously used on its cameras to produce a slightly bulkier and meatier camera than the other players we’re seeing of late.
There are two coloured options — green and black or black and red — and this box takes ruggedised metal and wraps it around a camera that delivers a 4K Ultra HD video capture as well as 8 megapixel stills, with Full HD 1080p also possible from the camera.
The lens is interesting simply because while we expect an action camera to have a wide-angle lens, the TG Tracker is very wide, sitting at 13.9mm or equivalent to roughly 204 degrees, making for a very, very, very wide view point.
Olympus is also making the camera do a little more, because while you could probably control it using a phone, there is also a 1-inch LCD along the side to flip out and let you see what you’re capturing.
Even more interesting is the array of sensors, with the Tracker connecting to a GPS for locational information, a compass to tell you what direction you’re going, an altimeter for depth and pressure, an accelerometer for movement, and a thermometer for temperature.
This information is captured in a log file and can be seen while you’re watching the movie on playback through the app, which in this case works on both iOS and Android.
And we’re particularly intrigued by the camera’s stabilisation mode, which from the sound of it is influenced by the Olympus mirrorless cameras, relying on a 5-axis image stabilisation, digital as it is. You’ll even find a 60 Lumens LED on the front of the camera, just above the lens to assist in low light.
The size grabs us, though, because while it looks like a bit of a chunky camera, it weighs merely 180 grams and manages to stay waterproof down to 30 metres, shockproof down to 2 metres, freeze-proof to -10 Celsius, and semi-crushproof, too.
Pricing on the Olympus TG Tracker rings in at $499, with availability scheduled for June.