Olym­pus TG-Tracker

A solid first foray into the ac­tion cam mar­ket

Mac Format - - APPLE CHOICE - Re­viewed by Ali Jen­nings

£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.

Easy ac­tion

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.

Lights, cam­era…

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.

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