Why I think the TG-1 is the best outdoor compact - even for video

Started Aug 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
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GilCatt
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Why I think the TG-1 is the best outdoor compact - even for video
Aug 7, 2012

Living by the seaside in Britanny, France, where the sun shines "many times a day" the Olympus TG-1 was no doubt THE choice.

I now carry it as my daily compact of choice - having ruined many before it because of the weather and the sea, including other theoretically water resistant compact cameras which I won't name here.

The tradeoff in terms of image quality with better compact cameras such as the Lumix LX5 (I own one) or the Oly XZ-1 is more than acceptable: I can now shoot whenever I want, whatever I want, underwater, above water, while swimming, while fishing, while paddling, while sailing... In other words it's the perfect camera for my lifestyle.

I see some people here who'd rather recommend an Oly ZX-1 with UW housing instead of the TG-1. Now that would be a reasonably priced set-up to start UW shooting, but I cannot recommend this kind of solution for anything else than specific UW shooting trips. Unless you are a masochist, you will never carry such a bulky set at the beach or at the swimming pool more than once. Forget about boating and paddling as well, unless you want to have +- 2 kilos' worth of equipment around your neck at all times.

I also own a micro 4/3 Panasonic GH2, great for indoor video and outdoor when the climate allows, as well as an UW housing for, you guessed it, UW shooting when diving. It's just not the same use (and not the same tag price either, although the GH2 certainly is one of the less costly solutions that will give you pro video results).

We're talking point and shoot with the TG-1, not pro shooting.

Results are excellent, really. Don't try comparing them with "better gears", as the latter would be useless where you will bring the TG-1.

Videos are also ok with the TG-1. Just don't expect pro results, which can't be achieved with cameras in such a price range anyway.
Some people complain about the so-so zoom, the noise, etc.

Zooming is hardly ever used in pro shooting, think about it. When was the last time you saw video zooming in a documentary? It's usually left out. Unless done by a pro for very specific purposes that do serve the story, zooming sucks.
99% of the time, it is a telltale sign of amateurish bad taste.

The TG-1 will give you plenty of useable material to toy with when editing your videos. Parasitic noises can be suppressed as well. Not a big deal. It's done all the time in pro shooting, so why on Earth would the amateur director be more demanding for a tiny fraction of the price of true pro cameras? - which also make and catch background noise if you don't use external mikes.

There is no such thing as "instant superior quality video", it just doesn't exist with cameras that cost 10 times as much - and even more.

Some people seem to favor such absolute judgements, though; it reminds me of those who criticize athletes from the comfort of their couch. The infamous Gizmodo review which found the TG-1 to be lousy in terms of video capabilities isn't worth a dime in that respect (testing a bunch of rugged compact cameras in Manhattan? I wondered how they didn't see the ridiculous of the situation in the first place, unless Manhattan is their idea of what outdoor living is all about).

So, back to the point: you will have to edit your videos - just as with any other camera.
If you don't edit your videos, why are you shooting in the first place?

Learn how to edit, the real pleasure is in the storytelling, the end result, not the shooting. The TG-1 is a tool, and as such you will have to master it. Give it time because it takes time: the TG-1 is only one element of a larger set and you need to master the whole chain (this is not instant FB publishing from your smartphone).
It will be rewarding. For such a price it is truly great.

If you have the proper lifestyle, until something better comes along, it's the best and perfect compact camera for daily use, a true swiss army knife for all demanding weather conditions and not so sunny and dry outdoor activities (although I assume the TG-1 would fare better in a desert storm than any other compact camera on the market today).
If not, choose accordingy.

To sum it up: the TG-1 is a worthy investment - the best in its class - if you do have the need for it, a lifestyle that requires it.
If you don't, rather than criticizing this camera, pick another and tell us why.

 GilCatt's gear list:GilCatt's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 +1 more
Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
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