Why I think the Olympus TG-6 Camera is the best camera for general watersports and kayaking.
Over the years I have used a number of the Olympus Tough camera series and have always felt they offered some of the best features available at the time. The latest version of which is the Olympus TG-6.
In my other job I am both a kayaking coach and guide and therefore have the need for the ability to take good photo’s both for my clients and for my social media needs. The better the photo’s the more engagement and interest you are going to get. So its important for me both from a kayaking and photography perspective to have a good camera for the job.
Key points I look for in a watersports camera.
- Waterproof (not water resistant)
- Lens protection
- Can shoot RAW files
- A zoom
- 12 mega pixels or more
Almost goes without saying. But as soon as you search for actually waterproof cameras the options quickly come down to a handful of choices. In the TG-6’s case it is waterproof to 15m on its own and there is an optional dive housing you can buy to take it to 60m. For kayaking I just use the camera on its own. But do use the dive case while scuba diving. This also gives you extra mounts for things like lighting.
This type of protection is two fold. While most cameras of this sort have a recessed lens to provide physical protection to the glass getting knocked or scratched. A lot of the options out there do not have a cover for the lens to protect from water splashes and droplets, when not in use. I find this important. As often you don’t have the time to clean water spots from the lens. From when you see a photo opportunity developing to when the action is taking place. That small delay can often cost you the shot, or the water drops on the lens ruin the image. Olympus answer to this problem is a optional LB‐T01 Lens Protector. This cunning rotating cover quickly allows you to open and close the protective shutter, whilst at the same time always being fixed to the camera. Which makes it hard or loose or drop overboard.
Can shoot RAW files
As photographer the ability to shoot RAW files is really important to me to be able to get the best from the image in post processing. As often the water environment has big dynamic ranges in light, reflections in the water and from equipment plus other challenging shooting conditions. So the ability to be able to balance the colours and details out in post processing really raises the production quality of the final images. Don’t worry though if you don’t now how to post process or simply can’t be bothered. This camera also shoots JPEG files as well.
This might not initially seam like a super important feature. But when involved in the adventurous activities you can often find our ability to move around to frame a shot better a lot more difficult than you might first think. Take kayaking for example. You need two hands on the paddle to move around. So as soon as you take the camera out you are now no longer able to move position easily. Also, often where the action is or is going to take place, is not a safe location to take a photo from. Even when on land, while hoping around rocks coasteering. Your options are often limited to the terrain around you and where your subjects are. The ability to zoom in and frame the shot and action better becomes a really important benefit and produces far more engaging imagery. Otherwise you loose the subject in the wider frame and its hard for people to see what was going on. The TG-6 has a optical 4 x zoom. Which is perfect for covering most situations. It then has further digital zoom. But I never use this as it degrades the image quality.
12 Mega Pixel Sensor or more
These days with most devices having 1080p FHD or 4k UHD screens, image quality has never been more important if you want to stop people scrolling and take notice of your content. 12MP is the minimum needed to give a decent image quality on those sorts of screen. While most waterproof cameras out their including GoPro have a 12MP sensor or higher. Its also worth considering the speed or aperture of the lens. The TG-6 has a fast F2.0 lens which helps to keep the shutter speed high and freeze the action. All important for those frozen in time water drops flying around in your action shots. Or still be able to capture action on those grey overcast days during winter.
In my option the TG-6 meets all the needs a photographer has to capture great memories in challenging watersports environments. While smart phones have taken over from compact cameras on land and can produce great images these days. Touch screens simply don’t work well in wet environments where you can’t beat having tactile buttons and leavers to control the camera functions. Also remembering that most smart phones are not truly waterproof and can be slippery to hold with wet hands. Adding up to an expensive loss if it dropped overboard or the phone takes a swim. The TG-6 comes with a wrist strap and with the addition of a little carabiner, can be attached to a buoyancy aid or other anchor point to safeguard dropping or loosing the camera.
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