Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for TG-630_BLK_RIGHT.jpg
  • 12-Megapixel Backside Illuminated CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • TruePic VI Image Processor
  • 3.0-Inch, 460,000 dot HyperCrystal III LCD Screen
  • 5x internal Optical zoom lens: 28-140mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Sensor Shift optical image stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Waterproof to 16ft.
  • Dustproof
  • Can survive drops from 5.5 ft.
  • FreezeProof to 14°F
  • HDMI output
  • LED Illuminator
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • "Tough" features: Waterproof, Dustproof, Shockproof and Freezeproof protect the camera
  • Good image quality for a sub-$200 camera
  • Image stabilization is helpful when shooting handheld with the 5x optical zoom
  • Bright and Clear 3.0-inch LCD
  • Excellent shooting performance
  • Good Battery Life
  • Survived our durability tests with no issues
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • Noise in all images, especially at the Higher ISO settings
  • No audio input and poor audio quality above and below water
  • Screen can be hard to see underwater when looking at an angle
  • Incredibly weak built-in flash unit
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.5 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 3/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.94 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.20 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  3.65fps 
  • High Speed Burst 1 = 15.38fps 3M 100 images
  • High Speed Burst 2 = 58.82fps 3M 100 images
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Olympus Stylus TG-630 is an affordable and durable lifeproof digicam. Its compact size and styling looks and works like any other compact digicam, while its "tough" features allow it to survive everyday life. Overall it is a good sub-$200 digicam.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an affordable "tough" camera that is great around pools and kids. It is ready for all situations, giving you excellent performance and good image quality.
Compact, powerful, tough and affordable, the Olympus Stylus TG-630 provides go anywhere convenience with the great image quality you would expect from an Olympus camera. Packed into the watertight housing is a 12-Megapixel Backside Illuminated CMOS imaging sensor and TruePic VI imaging processor, which create Olympus's iHS system. This system provides the camera with outstanding low-light performance and increased image quality. The powerful processor is also responsible for the camera's incredibly easy to use iAuto shooting mode and creative "Art" filters.

The internal 5x optical zoom lens is supported by the camera's sensor shift optical image stabilization to assist in keeping your handheld images sharp. The camera also features a 3.0-inch LCD screen, full 1080p HD video capture, HDMI output and a built-in LED Illuminator. The TG-630 is available in 4 stylish colors: Red, Blue, White and Black. 

The TG-630 is the most affordable model in Olympus's "Tough" lineup. Its internal 5x optical zoom lens, simple controls and rubber gasket lined doors allow the camera to keep waterproof up to 16ft. underwater. That also allows it to keep dirt, dust and sand out of the important places. Its solid construction also allows it to survive drops from up to 5.5ft, making it perfect for families with small children or anyone that is always on the go. Finally the camera is also capable of working in temperatures as low as 14°F, so it is ready to hit the slopes with you as well. 

Handling the TG-630 is easy with one hand or two. The pinch technique works well with shooting, but using the zoom can be a little tricky. The rest of the buttons, including the shutter release, are easily identifiable and well-spaced, so that they are easy to use in any situation. This includes when you are shooting underwater or with a thin pair of gloves on. The joystick instead of a 4-way controller makes menu navigation very easy. The menus themselves have a decent layout and settings are easy to find and change.

Composing and viewing your images, along with menu navigation is accomplished on the 3.0-inch, 460,000 dot Hypercrystal III LCD screen. It is easy to see in all lighting conditions thanks to the adjustable brightness, and even in the rain, the water-repellent coating on both the lens and the screen. 

Our outdoor image samples show that the camera produces excellent overall image quality for a sub-$200 camera. It handled the exposures and autofocus very well, and shooting in iAuto produced bright, vivid colors. When looking at 100%, the blue skies and green grass areas show some blotchy spots where the resolution just isn't high and sharp enough. There were some high contrast areas with some slight aberrations (purple fringing), but for the most part, they are kept under control.

Framing your images is accomplished with the 5x internal optical zoom lens, featuring a 35mm equivalent of 28-140mm.This provides a zoom range that works in most everyday situations ranging from vast landscapes to close-up portraits. Super Macro mode also allows you to shoot incredibly close to an object. So close in fact, that the lens is almost touching the subject before the camera has trouble focusing. 

Looking at out indoor images gives a better idea of the resolution and image noise produced by the camera. At ISO 100, you can almost make out some of the finer details that we have gotten used to seeing from most cameras. This is a little disappointing knowing that there will always be a lack of fine detail, no matter what shooting mode you are using. As the ISO goes up, the noise will steadily increase and the sharpness and detail in the image will decrease. Shooting up through ISO 800 is acceptable, allowing you print good looking images. Once you go over that, you will start to see the image noise in your prints, even the smaller ones. The higher ISO settings are completely unacceptable and should be avoided if possible.

Assisting with your low-light shooting is a very compact built-in flash unit. With a maximum range of approx. 11.5ft, at ISO 1600, you will need to stay incredibly close to your subject in order to get decent results from the flash unit. From just 5ft. away, the flash was not near enough for our sample shot at ISO 100.

Shooting portraits with the TG-630 was a very easy thing to do thanks to the cameras face detection software. It was quick at detecting and following faces within the frame. Once the camera had a face, it did an excellent job of focusing and setting the exposure accordingly. Our only issue with the final results were the very high ISO settings, shooting both with and without the flash. While the flash did an excellent job of filling the shadows, it did not do much to lower the ISO settings and reduce the noise within the image.

Underwater shooting was easy thanks to the large shutter release button and large, bright LCD screen. This made it easy to compose and capture our images while swimming around. One thing to remember is that light does not travel as far underwater, so you must stay much closer to your subjects when shooting, either with or without the flash. This kept the ISO settings high in our underwater images, but overall we were satisfied with them. 

Thanks to the powerful TruePic VI processor, the TG-630 is capable of shooting and processing some fun and creative "Art" filter modes. These have been designed to simulate some creative photography techniques like Dramatic Tone and Fragmented effect. The camera applies these settings or filters to a full resolution, high quality image so that your final image comes out as clear and sharp and possible. These filters can save you a ton of editing time if you tried to apply them on a computer, as well as all of the hassle. The drawback is there is no adjustment to any of the filters, so you are stuck with the preset settings for each filter.

Shooting movies with the TG-630 is as easy as pressing the dedicated video recording button on the back, no matter what shooting mode you are in. This means that the camera is always ready to shoot, and the settings are always available since there is no actual video shooting mode. Our samples, both under and above the water turned out pretty well for a compact digicam. There is some visible noise, but they did playback very smoothly on all mediums. Audio is another story. The small built-in microphone is very sensitive, and will pick up the noises closest to the camera as well as anything in the background. Even background noises that you are not aware of will show up much louder than you would expect. Underwater is even worse, as the water passes around the mic, you will hear nothing but noise. 

Powering the TG-630 is a 3.7V, 925mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Olympus claims that this is enough to capture 270 images or up to 80 minutes of video. During our tests we were able to capture over 150 images, along with several short videos on a single charge with no worries about running low on the battery. This is great for a short adventure or sitting around the pool for a day, but if you plan on long trips and full days of shooting, you will want to have a spare battery ready to go. This is a little more difficult with the USB charging adapter that is included with the camera, but not impossible. 

Bottom Line - The Olympus Stylus TG-630 is an affordable "tough" or lifeproof camera that has been built to withstand the everyday bumps and drops that most cameras won't. Loaded with a fantastic feature set that produces good images, this camera is ready for everyday shooting as well as shooting in those extreme situations. With a MSRP of US $199.99, this camera is OK for a camera in this price range, but it is hard to find a lifeproof model for less.


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