Camera Down, Camera Down… What’s Next?

Just before our pilgrimage to Ireland in April 2016, I sent out a search party and performed in-depth research on compact point-and-shoot digital cameras. For the longest time, I had been a Canon EOS-1N RS or Mamiya M645 shooter. I loved both brands. It gave me the best of both worlds. Fast SLR, fast crisp sports lenses for days out in the field performing shots on a variety of sport or street documentary and for those days I was hanging back in the studio, a genuine mammoth in the likes of the Mamiya 645. I loved using both cameras. Then… the world changed out of film… and into DIGITAL. A new era had begun.

Many years later, I found myself with a compact Canon point-and-shoot for all of my travel needs. This was all pre-video in digital cameras. It was only a period of time, before video started arriving into the Camera segments. Combining both video and photography was an inevitable crossover. It has lead to its own distinct selection of cameras.

Today there are so, so, so, so, many choices for a photographer/videographer from actual camcorders to DSLR to mirrorless APS-C to four-thirds, to point-and-shoot with attachable lenses to point-and-shoot without attachments. There are tough cameras, shockproof, cold-proof, waterproof, sealed gaskets, weather resistance, waterproof housings, hot shoes, popup flashes, true view finders, no view finders, LCD view finders, hybrid finders, OMLED screens and more!

It’s no wonder why, we cannot make up a decision on what camera item is best for our situations? Technology is both amazing and terrible. How does one determine the best camera for their needs? research, of course! 

Well… I came across the Olympus Tough series. I was looking for something which would give me both a good video and good photos. Something that would be Aaron proof, which meant it needed to be somewhat indestructible because I dropped it. Stepped on it. Smashed it. And it needed to bounce back every time…

My last Canon SD1100 IS lived for about 8-years. It worked through all the extensive abuse I could throw at it. It was in the ocean, on the beach, in the dirt and grit of outdoor camping, mountain biking, snowshoeing, skeet shooting, traveling to foreign lands, up temple stairs, into the dung of masses around street food carts in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam. It went, on and on and on, until one Saturday afternoon on a simple scramble here in good ol’ Alberta, when it fell out my pocket oops-aggggh shit! it tumbled down CLANG, BANG, BOOM, tickling and trickling off several large boulders until it came to rest next to some marmot poop.

The lens just wouldn’t come back out. The LCD said “Lens Error”, as if I couldn’t figure this out. And that was the end of the Canon. We tried to revive it when we returned to civilization but it just wouldn’t cooperate. It was DOA (dead on arrival).

The Olympus Tough Series, sounded just like what I needed to purchase. It had a fast internal lens 5x Optical Zoom f/3.5-5.7 Lens on a 21-105mm (35mm equivalent)housed inside a supposedly indestructible case: Waterproof to 50′, Crushproof to 220-lbs and Shockproof to 7′, Coldproof to 14°F (-10°C). It had all the correct adaptations and features to be “Aaron proof”. Also, I was super excited about the 16MP 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS Sensor; TruePic VII, and 3.0″ 180° Flip LCD Display, which equated to using it like an old Twin Lens Reflex film-camera, looking down through the chute to the screen. Also, it had dual tripod mounts for both vertical and horizontal orientations. And when I do finally have my smart phone, or laptop handy, it is equipped with useful Wi-Fi and GPS for tagging and sharing photographs. And that’s why I bought the Olympus TG-860, in April 2016, just before departing to Ireland.

The Olympus TG-860 has hung off the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, a 1952 Chevy Bel-Air in Havana Cuba, sport fishing off the coast of Huatulco Mexico, to the top of Whistler mountain inside Jasper National Park, to Roger’s Pass in Glacier National Park, hiking in Avatar Forest in the search of the world’s Gnarliest old growth tree near Port Renfrew British Columbia and kayaking on Brazeau Dam in Alberta. And through all of these adventures, I have learnt that the Olympus Tough capabilities are unfortunately not Aaron Proof!

My favourite part of this camera, the 3.0″ 180° Flip LCD Display, has succumbed to the environment and is now taking in water and condensation inside the LCD. This started on our trip last month while snorkelling in 6-feet of water off the coast of Mexico. At one point, I literally had no operational LCD screen. When I bought the TG-860, I did have concern over the rotational screen and its “tough capabilities” and for the $250 price tag at the time, I wasn’t concerned. It was a reduced price as the shop was trying to make room for the new Olympus TG-870 and TG-4.