Olympus TG-4 Camera Rig

My introduction to underwater photography was snorkeling with an Olympus TG-3.  The TG-3 is a waterproof and rugged camera that doesn’t require being housed for depths shallower than 50 feet.  It has underwater modes, including a macro mode which doesn’t need a wet lens to perform well.  It is a resilient and very small camera that you won’t have any difficulty bringing along for a snorkel or shallow dive.  The convenience of the Olympus tough series for underwater photography can’t be beat.

I bought a TG-4, PT-056 housing and YS-03 strobe a year later so that I could bring it on dives deeper than 50 feet and get colorful shots with the added light source.  The TG-4 also added the capability to shoot RAW which the TG-3 did not support.  By adding the housing and the strobe I increased the size of the setup somewhat but it is still a fairly compact and convenient rig.

After a Caribbean dive trip and some local diving I realized that I enjoyed shooting scenes in addition to macro and small subjects so I purchased a UWL-04 lens.  It mates directly to the 52mm threaded port of my PT-056 housing and provides 165 degrees field of view which is a significant improvement for framing wide scenes while maintaining good subject proximity.

The TG-4 only offers an aperture priority mode versus full manual mode which for some photographers might feel limiting.  It works well with the YS-03 strobe in TTL; you simply set the internal flash to fill-in and attach the fiber optic cable.  The strobe comes with a basic tray to mount the PT-056 housing and a flex arm for the strobe.  The tray and flex arm are adequate but will be the first components I upgrade.  The additional weight of the UWL-04 makes carrying the camera by the flex arm above water stressful on the arm to tray attachment so a little extra care is needed during transport.

I like this setup but it does have some limitations, specifically the lack of full manual control and the very small sensor.  The 1/2.3” sensor size is much smaller than the 1” sensors in some of the more advanced compacts like the RX100.  The small sensor will be challenged at times in low light conditions when shooting wide-angle; it will be imperative to abide excellent proximity for a sharp photo in these circumstances.  Besides upgrading the tray and arms I expect to add a second strobe soon to help get more even foreground lighting for wide-angle shooting.  Overall, I’ve been happy with this setup and its capabilities and look forward to shooting with it again this coming season.

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