A solid first foray into the action cam market
£280 from Olympus, olympus.co.uk Features 4K video at 30fps, 8MP still images, 204° ultra-wide lens, rugged case
The TG-Tracker is Olympus’s first venture into the action camera market, and its camcorder-like design stands in stark contrast to the box designs of its rivals.
It certainly stands out visually, and follows the company’s Tough compact camera range in styling.
At 3.5x5.7x9.3cm it’s relatively small, but its 180g weight makes it a little heavier than the GoPro Hero4 Black. This extra weight can cause a bit of wobble when it’s mounted on a bike’s handlebar. Helpfully, the built-in image stabiliser can be enabled in the menu system, and does a good job of reducing, although not totally eliminating, vibrations.
The TG-Tracker has a small LED lamp to illuminate night-time filming, something we haven’t seen on an action cam before. It’s also waterproof out of the box to 30m, and can operate in temperatures down to -10°C, survive being dropped from up to 2.1m, and is crushproof up to 100kg – so you don’t have to worry about accidentally sitting on it.
The small camera packs built-in Wi-Fi, GPS, motion sensors and 4K video capability. It looks like Olympus is serious about making an impact in a market that has recently seen a slowdown in innovation. Aside from the GPS, other sensors include a compass, barometer, thermometer, and an accelerometer – these make it a serious rival to the Garmin Virb XE and TomTom Bandit.
Inside the TG-Tracker is a 7.2-millionpixel, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, fronted by an ultra-wide 204-degree lens. In addition to 4K at 30 frames per second (fps), you can record at other resolutions, such as 1080p and 720p at 60fps and 30fps. There’s also a high-speed recording option, which raises the frame rate of 720p and 480p video to 240fps, enabling slow motion playback once edited. Stills can also be shot at 8MP, and all your footage is captured on a MicroSD card that slots into the back of the camera.
The camera’s comfortable to use, with the 3.8-inch flip-out screen making handheld filming very easy; however, the screen merely flips out, rather than flipping and rotating.
The TG-Tracker comes supplied with a range of accessories, including a steady grip that bolts on to the bottom of the body, giving it an almost Super 8 cine camera look and feel.
The TG-Tracker’s 30fps, 4K video footage is well balanced for exposure, with plenty of fine detail. Contrast is a bit high, and as with the majority of action cameras it struggles with dynamic range, losing some shadow and highlight detail in high-contrast situations.
When you’re filming while moving between bright and shaded areas, however, the exposure adjusts quickly, and automatic white balance works well. Unusually, the TG-Tracker manages to adjust both exposure and colour balance at the same time.
Dropping the resolution down to 1080p at 30fps results in well balanced footage with a good level of detail. Filming at 60fps captures smooth motion, but a the cost of a slight drop in the quality of the detail and tonal rendition when compared with footage shot at 30fps.
The len’s 204-degree viewing angle captures a very distinctive fish-eye perspective. Footage is sharp at the center of the frame, but as you’d expect the sharpness falls off considerably towards the edges, and there are signs of blue chromatic aberration. In bright conditions there’s a slight flare at the edges of the frame, but it’s not very noticeable.
All the settings and controls are accessed via four of the five buttons on top of the body; the fifth button is the shutter release, which is mounted conveniently forward of the others. The buttons’ positions are easy to reach, and their layout is intuitive. In fact, this is the easiest action camera to use that we’ve seen.
The screen is bright and easy to view in all conditions, with the live view giving you a good overall impression of the colour and exposure of captured footage.
The companion OI.Track app is quick and easy to set up. Once connected, video and log files can be downloaded to your iPhone and viewed alongside any sensor data recorded. Unfortunately it only enables the viewing and sharing of footage; it doesn’t enable overlays or any auto-editing features. The software has a long way to go before it’s as fully featured as the competition.
Mounting is an important factor with action cams, and Olympus has taken this on board. The steady grip makes the TG-Tracker easy to hold, and the included mount coupling makes it simple to attach the camera to just about anything, including a standard GoPro mount.
The TG-Tracker is a break from the usual action cam fare, with a very appealing design. Its specs are impressive too, with 4K video at 30fps enabling you to capture high-quality footage to set the scene, then 1080p at 60fps to capture the action. The 720p at 240fps option is a big benefit for shooting sports in slo-mo. Image quality’s good, and capturing location and motion data is a huge selling point.
The software doesn’t match the quality of the camera itself, but at least the hardware is in place, and hopefully the software will be updated to make full use of its capabilities.
The TG-Tracker comes with a steady grip attachment to help you shoot smooth handheld footage.