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Olympus TG-320 Overview

Posted: 01/11/2012

The Olympus Tough TG-320 features a shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof body, designed to take whatever the elements can throw at it - or perhaps, whatever you might accidentally throw it at! Able to survive a drop from 5 feet, to capture photos at up to 10 feet underwater, and even to be used in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit / -10 degrees Celsius, the photographer is likely to surrender long before the camera does. Inside this rugged exterior are the combination of a 1/2.3"-type, 14 effective megapixel image sensor and an Olympus-branded 3.6x optical zoom lens, which offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a useful 28mm wide-angle to a moderate 102mm telephoto. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.5 to f/5.1 across the zoom range.

A 2.7-inch LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution offers the Olympus TG-320's only option for framing and reviewing images, as there's no optical viewfinder on this model. The Olympus Tough TG-320 also includes true mechanical image stabilization - an important addition that forms half of the company's "Dual Image Stabilization" system. The other half is what Olympus calls "Digital Image Stabilization", which increases the ISO sensitivity (and along with it, both the shutter speed and image noise levels) to try and freeze motion. ISO sensitivity ranges from a low of ISO 80 to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent.

The Olympus Tough TG-320 employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera's image sensor, and the TG-320 also includes face detection capability, linked to both the autoexposure and autofocus systems, ensuring that your subjects' faces are taken into account when determining both these variables. AF tracking technology continually adjusts focus and exposure to keep fast-moving subjects in focus. There's even "Pet Auto-Shutter" function that trips the shutter automatically when your dog or cat looks your way.

As well as still image shooting, the Olympus TG-320 offers 720p high definition movie capture, and includes a mini HDMI Type-D output to view images and movies on your HDTV, although the cable is an optional extra. Thanks to HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) support, you can use your HDTV's remote to control certain playback functions on the camera, via the HDMI interface. A rechargeable LI-42B Lithium Ion battery with charger is included with the Tough TG-320, and has a CIPA rating of 190 shots per charge. Images are stored in a not-so-generous 19.5MB of available internal memory, as well as on Secure Digital memory cards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. Images and videos can be transferred to a PC over a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, which also doubles as a standard-def video output.

The TG-320 includes a variety of what the company terms Magic Filters, which are similar to the in-camera Art Filters first introduced in Olympus digital SLRs in 2009. Magic Filters on offer include Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish-Eye, Soft Focus, Drawing, Watercolor, Sparkle, and Punk filters. A generous 17 scene modes including an underwater mode are offered in the Olympus TG-320, plus a Program Auto mode, allowing users some degree of control over their images without needing to understand the subtleties of shutter speeds and apertures. Scene modes include Portrait, Beauty, Landscape, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fire Works, Cuisine, Documents, Beach & Snow, Under Water Snapshot, Pet (Cat), and Pet (Dog).There's also an Intelligent Auto mode which can automatically select from a subset of available scene modes.

The Olympus Tough TG-320 ships in the USA from February 2011, with pricing of about US$180. In Europe, availability is set at mid-February, priced at €150. Available body colors in either market include blue or red.