12.00
Megapixels
4.00x zoom 1/2.3 inch
size sensor
image of Olympus Tough TG-5
Front side of Olympus TG-5 digital camera Front side of Olympus TG-5 digital camera Front side of Olympus TG-5 digital camera Front side of Olympus TG-5 digital camera Front side of Olympus TG-5 digital camera
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Olympus Tough TG-5
Resolution: 12.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 4.00x zoom
(25-100mm eq.)
Viewfinder: No / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 12,800
Extended ISO: 100 - 12,800
Shutter: 1/2000 - 4 seconds
Max Aperture: 2.0
Dimensions: 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.3 in.
(113 x 66 x 32 mm)
Weight: 8.8 oz (250 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 06/2017
Manufacturer: Olympus
Full specs: Olympus TG-5 specifications

Olympus TG-5 Review -- First Impressions

by
Preview posted

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image

These days, the rugged, waterproof segment of the camera market is one of the few areas in which there's a good reason for buying a standalone compact camera. Over the last decade since Apple wowed us with its first iPhone, followed in short order by Google's Android, smartphones have demolished the rest of the compact market. But despite their clear strengths in portability, connectivity and performance, many smartphones aren't waterproof and even fewer are ruggedized. And even if it's built like a tank, you probably don't want to risk such an expensive device -- and one which touches on so many areas of your life -- as your smartphone.

But while the "take it anywhere" advantage of a compact ruggedized, waterproof camera over a smartphone is obvious, there hasn't been such a clear box ticked in the image quality department. Thanks to some big improvements made in smartphone cameras over the last few years coupled with the stagnation of the compact camera market right as it reached the peak of its ill-advised lust for the mighty megapixel, smartphones and compacts have been much of a muchness in terms of the end results.

Finally, a return to sanity on the megapixel front!

With the TOUGH TG-5, Olympus aims to change all of that by taking the rugged, waterproof camera upmarket. In the process, it's had to bump the price up a little, but at US$450 or thereabouts, the TG-5 is still quite reasonable and certainly more affordable than all but the most basic of unlocked smartphones. And it promises a big step forwards in image quality thanks to the pairing of three important bits of kit.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image

At the heart of the TG-5, there's a new 12-megapixel, backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor which marks a return to sanity on the resolution front. (There was never really any rational reason for the move to resolutions of 16-18 megapixels from such tiny sensors in past rugged cameras, beyond straightforward spec table one-upsmanship. We're thrilled to see Olympus leading the way back towards common sense in this area.)

The Olympus TG-5 pairs its new sensor with a bright lens and seriously powerful processor

Output from the new 12-megapixel chip heads thru the same dual quad-core TruePic VIII image processor used in the flagship (and very well-received) OM-D E-M1 II mirrorless camera, a fact which should make very clear just how serious Olympus is about maximizing the TG-5's image quality. And the final piece of the puzzle is a holdover from the previous Olympus TG-4: A 4x optical zoom lens with a bright f/2.0 maximum aperture at its 25mm-equivalent wide angle, falling to f/4.9 by the 100mm-equivalent telephoto position. As before, the lens design includes dual super aspherical, high dispersion and high refractive index lenses in its optical formula.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image

Put all of that together -- a new sensor with a more reasonable number of large, light-hungry photodiodes; a high-performance image processor with top-notch image processing algorithms; and a lens which at wide-angle at least is very bright -- and it's a safe bet that the Olympus TG-5 should best its predecessor in the image quality department, and hopefully its nearest rivals too. It should also allow for greater performance and lighter storage requirements, since there's less data to process and store for every image in the first place, coupled with lower noise levels that will allow for better compression.

An indication of Olympus' confidence in the strategy can be garnered from the fact that it has increased maximum sensitivity of the TG-5 to ISO 12,800-equivalent, where the TG-4 topped out at ISO 6400. (Of course, we'll reserve final judgement until we've had the chance to put the TG-5 through our rigorous review process.) And unlike the TG-4, the TG-5 can now shoot raw files in continuous mode, and the company has also added in-camera raw processing capability.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image

Performance has increased too. While the full-res burst capture rate is still 5 frames per second with mechanical shutter, the TG-5 can now shoot at 10 or 20 fps including raw files with the electronic shutter, or at 10 fps with e-shutter in Pro Capture mode. Buffer depth at 20 fps is claimed to be unlimited for JPEGs, and up to 14 frames for raw files. At 5 fps, raw buffer depth is said to increase to 49 frames.

The TG-5 is still built like a tank, too

Of course, there's a lot more to the Olympus TG-5 than just its imaging pipeline. Starting from the skin, the TG-5's newly-designed chassis should now be easier to grip, and more conducive to operation while wearing gloves. There's a new control dial on top for easier setting changes, and a larger zoom lever that's now wrapped around the shutter button. It's also said to respond more quickly to control adjustments.

And just like that of the earlier TG-4, it's impressively solid, said to be able to withstand 220 pounds (100 kg) of crushing force, is waterproof to 50 feet (15 m), and capable of surviving a drop from seven feet (2.1 m) onto an unspecified surface. It's also dustproof and freezeproof to 14°F (-10°C), and now sports a dual-pane cover glass over the lens to help avoid it fogging up when the temperature suddenly changes.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image
Olympus TG-5 shown with optional orange CSCH-121 Sport Holder. Also comes in light blue.

The Olympus TG-5 is even more location-aware than ever

The earlier TG-4 was already location-aware, sporting a built-in GPS receiver which was also compatible with Russia's GLONASS and Japan's QZSS system, both of which are alternatives to the US government's more widely-known GPS system. And it could derive compass information from the GPS track data as well, allowing capture direction to be recorded in your images, not just the capture location.

But that's not enough for the enthusiast-grade Olympus TG-5. The new camera sports what the company is referring to as the Field Sensor System, which pairs the GPS and e-compass features of the TG-4 with a new external temperature sensor which has been isolated from the camera's own internal warmth so as to allow air / water temperature measurement to an accuracy of 1.8°F (1°C). There's also a manometer which allows measurement of altitude to an accuracy of 33 feet (10 m) and underwater depth to an accuracy of 3 feet (1m).

All of this information can be displayed on-screen and recorded in-camera, and Olympus' free OI.Track app for Android or iOS phones and tablets can be used to display images alongside a map of the capture location or an altitude / water depth graph. It can also overlay GPS track log, distance, speed, altitude / depth, compass direction, azimuth and date/time information on videos which can be shared with friends and family.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image
Olympus TG-5 shown with optional CSCH-126 Silicone Jacket, CLA-T01 Adapter & FCON-T01 Fisheye Converter Lens
A focus on the extremely up-close and personal

But what if you're more interested in getting really close to your subjects than in tracking your journey through each photo shoot? Well, the Olympus TG-5 has you covered here too, thanks to what the company is terming the Variable Macro System. This allows you to make the best of the TG-5's lens, which can focus to an extremely close 0.4 inches (1 cm) through most of its zoom range.

Enable super macro mode, and you can attain 7x magnification by pairing the lens' optical zoom -- curtailed just slightly at the wide end for a 30 to 100mm-equivalent focal length range -- with its super-close focusing capability in what Olympus is calling microscope mode. There's also microscope control mode, which adds digital zoom into the mix. You can either digitally zoom smoothly with the zoom rocker, or step between 1x, 2x and 4x digital zoom using the arrow pad.

And as if that wasn't already enough, the Olympus TG-5 also offers both focus stacking and focus bracketing functions. When using focus stacking, the camera will automatically shoot eight images with varying focus distance, and then use this data to output a single image with much greater depth of field. Those of you who want to be in control yourselves will instead opt for focus bracketing mode, which can capture as many as 30 images in a burst with variant focus distance. You get to choose both the focus step size between frames and the total number of shots in one of three levels.

The Olympus TG-5 is also uncommonly well-equipped in the focusing department for a rugged camera, offering not just face-detection AF and the ability to manually select from its 25 AF points. These come coupled with manual focusing complete with an enlarged focus assist function, plus a focus peaking tool that outlines high-contrast edges in white, black, red or yellow to indicate the point of focus.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image
Olympus TG-5 shown with optional CSCH-126 Silicone Jacket, CLA-T01 Adapter & TCON-T01 Teleconverter Lens
And there's plenty else on the creative front, too

Nor is that all, either. The Olympus TG-5 sports quite a few other features that aren't typical of its point-and-shoot rugged cameras, such as a pro capture mode that can shoot bursts of frames constantly until you press the shutter button, then let you reach back in time as long as ten seconds before the shutter was tripped to find the perfect moment your reflexes weren't quite ready for.

And there's also a live composite mode that continuously records and combines images, discarding all but the brightest pixel for any given pixel location, and thereby allowing some really fun effects like light painting, or recording of light trails behind vehicles, fireworks, stars moving across the sky and the like. And as we mentioned previously, the TG-5 can also shoot HDR imagery in-camera, both underwater and above the surface.

Olympus has also retained the TG-4's dual custom modes, located prominently on the mode dial for quick recall and reuse of your favorite camera setups. And the company offers up a generous selection of 14 in-camera art filters, as well as offering a new grid display that will help you ensure your horizontals are level and your verticals not converging.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image
Olympus TG-5 shown with optional CSCH-126 Silicone Jacket and LG-1 LED Light Guide

The Olympus TG-5 isn't just about stills, either

As well as all its still imaging features, the Olympus TG-5 also boasts the ability to record high definition and ultra-high definition footage in-camera, and in a nice touch, movie mode can now be accessed through the mode dial. Better still, for 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixel) content, Olympus is using the entire sensor width without pixel binning or skipping, which should ensure that video quality is up to par in comparison with the TG-5's stills. At 4K resolution, there's a fixed 102Mbps bitrate and a choice of 25 or 30 frames per second capture rates. Drop the resolution to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), and you'll have a choice of 25, 30, 50 or 60 fps capture. Finally, at HD (1,280 x 720 pixel) resolution, there's a choice of 25 or 30 fps capture. FHD and HD video allows bitrates from 52 to 18 Mbps.

You can also record time-lapse movies at 4K, FHD or HD resolution, and high-speed movies at FHD, HD or SD (640 x 360 pixel) resolution. 4K time-lapse clips have a fixed five frames per second frame rate, while FHD time-lapses also allow 10 or 15 fps, and HD movies add 30 fps to the mix. Full HD high-speed movies can be captured at 120 fps, while HD allows 240 fps and SD can reach a maximum of 480 fps capture.

All the requisite connectivity options, both wired and wireless

Of course, all the connectivity options you'd expect are presented and accounted for. The Olympus TG-5 can put images on your smartphone or tablet for sharing online via its built-in 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless networking radio, and can also transfer data to your PC or Mac via a standard USB 2.0 Micro-B connector, or send it to a high-definition display via a Type-D Micro HDMI terminal.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image
Olympus TG-5 shown with optional CSCH-126 Silicone Jacket and FD-1 Flash Diffuser
A little less battery life, but it shares its battery with the TG-4

The Olympus TG-5 accepts the same LI-92B lithium-ion battery pack as its predecessor, which is a nice touch if you're considering upgrading from the TG-4. Battery life isn't quite as good as that of the earlier model, though, with a maximum of 340 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards, down from 380 frames on the earlier camera.

A broad accessory ecosystem should keep enthusiasts happy

If that 50 foot depth rating we mentioned earlier isn't sufficient, incidentally, an optionally-available PT-058 underwater housing will allow use of the Olympus TG-5 down to depths of 147 feet (45 m). This is just one of many accessories that Olympus will be offering for the TG-5, as befits a camera so clearly aimed at enthusiast use. The discerning underwater shooter will be able to pair their TG-5 and PT-058 housing with PTWC-01 and PTMC-01 Underwater Wide and Macro converter lenses and a pair of UFL-3 external flash strobes. And to make the best of all this underwater gear, note that Olympus says the switch to a TruePic VIII processor should bring improved underwater image quality. You can still shoot regular snapshots, HDR imagery and macros underwater.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image
Olympus TG-5 shown in optional PT-058 Underwater Case

And once again, that's not all on the accessory front. Olympus is offering a new CSCH-126 silicone jacket to help protect your investment, and the TG-5 is also compatible with a range of existing accessories such as the wearable CSCH-123 sport holder, CSCH-121 mesh camera case which lets the camera air-dry, CHS-09 floating wrist strap, LG-1 LED light guide, FD-1 flash diffuser, and the CLA-T01 converter adapter through which the TCON-1 teleconverter (170mm-equivalent focal length), FCON-T01 fisheye converter (130-degree field of view) or PRF-D40.5 PRO protection filter can be attached to the TG-5 camera body. And a new accessory lock button ensures that the fisheye / tele converters, flash diffuser and light guide won't accidentally fall off the camera in transport.

Price and availability

The Olympus TG-5 goes on sale from June 2017 in the US market, with a choice of either black or red body colors to suit your tastes. US-market pricing is set at around US$450 for the camera itself, as noted previously, while the new PT-058 underwater housing is priced at US$300, and the new CSCH-126 silicone jacket will cost US$30. Both accessories will ship at around the same time as the camera itself in the US market.

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Product Image
Olympus TG-5 shown with optional CLA-T01 Adapter & LC-40.5 Lens Cap

Located just a little over the border to our north? Our Canadian readers will be able to purchase the Olympus TG-5 camera for CAD$580, the underwater housing for CAD$330, and the silicone jacket for CAD$32.

 

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