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 sec
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
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

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Now Shooting!

Preview posted 05/17/2017
Last updated 08/31/2018

Updates:
06/02/2017: Field Test Part I
06/12/2017: Performance page posted
06/16/2017: First Shots posted
08/31/2018: Field Test Part II posted

For those looking for our detailed product overview, complete with specs and features, click here for our Olympus TG-5 Overview.

 

Olympus TG-5 Field Test Part II

A solid waterproof camera with improved image quality & performance

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 08/31/2018

16.5mm (91mm equiv.), f/4.7, 1/400s, ISO 500.
Click for full-size image. No RAW image available.

In our first Olympus TG-5 Field Test, written by Dave Pardue, he looked at the camera's revised design, image quality, the optional converter lenses and much more. If you have yet to read his Field Test, it would be good to do so before reading this second Field Test.

In this Field Test, I will be focusing on the TG-5's overall performance, autofocus, video and sharing some general thoughts about using the TG-5 in the field.

Performance, Autofocus and Usability

The Olympus Tough TG-5 is powered by the TruePic VIII image processor. This is the same processor that powers other recent Olympus models, such as the OM-D E-M1 II flagship Micro Four Thirds camera. The new processor allows the TG-5 to have some features the TG-4 lacked, including in-camera RAW processing and the ability to continuously shoot RAW files.

8.9mm (49mm equiv.), f/3.2, 1/200s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image.

When looking at performance, the TG-5 performs very well for its class. It has good startup time, focuses quite quickly and can cycle through single JPEG and RAW shots quickly. The camera shoots JPEG images at up to 20 frames per second for an unlimited amount of shots -- unlimited in a theoretical sense but limited in practicality by the capacity of your memory card -- and can record RAW images at the same impressive speed, albeit at a smaller buffer (18 frames in our lab testing). The JPEG and RAW buffers clear in 3 and 6 seconds respectively, which is impressive and will allow you to keep up with action in the field.

4.5mm (25mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/125s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

In real-world use, the camera feels very snappy. There is one exception, however, the built-in flash, which takes nearly five seconds to recycle. The camera has good battery life as well; it's rated for 340 shots. Finally, although not necessarily a concern with a camera like the TG-5, it is worth pointing out that the camera has a mechanical shutter which tops out at 5 fps. When using the Sequential High shooting mode at 20 fps, the camera uses electronic shutter. When shooting with the mechanical shutter, the RAW buffer increases to around 50 frames.

Turning our attention now to autofocus. The camera relies upon a 25-point contrast-detect autofocus system. The system is pretty quick and generally reliable. Its performance does decrease a bit in low light, unsurprisingly, but it can focus in dim enough conditions to handle focus when shooting underwater, provided you don't take it too deep.

18mm (100mm equiv.), f/4.9, 1/125s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Another very good aspect of the autofocus system is its macro capabilities. Through much of the camera's focal length range, you can focus as close as 0.4 inches (1 centimeter). It can be tough to work from this distance, but it's neat that it is an option. The camera offers focus stacking and focus bracketing options and can also utilize a "microscope" focusing mode, which allows for even closer focus at the cost of image quality.

In addition to these neat tricks, the camera offers face detection and the ability to cycle through 25 different focus points. I will say that it's not easy to switch between individual focus points, but that's not a huge issue for a tough camera. To change a point focus in single-point AF mode, you have to press the Menu and OK buttons at the same time to access this menu option. The camera also offers manual focusing along with focus peaking; a nice touch.

6.9mm (38mm equiv.), f/10, 1/60s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.
6.9mm (38mm equiv.), f/10, 1/60s, ISO 200.
100 percent crop of the above image. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Regarding usability, I do like the improved controls on the TG-5, including the revised mode dial. I am not a big fan of the camera's menu system though. It is confusing. For example, if you want to shoot in RAW image quality, you have to press OK button during shooting, to bring up the pop-up shortcut menu. It isn't in the standard camera menu. Another issue I have is that the rear LCD screen is not very sharp. The display offers only 460k dots, leaving the display looking a bit pixelated and not very sharp. The protective cover on the display is also very easy to scratch, which will inevitably happen if you pocket the camera like I did.

Overall, the camera performs well. It is quick, offers fast shooting and is responsive during shooting. Autofocus performance is also pretty good, particularly with respect to its close focus capabilities. The user experience is not perfect. The ergonomics are good, but the menus are obtuse, so your experience can range from very good to somewhat frustrating depending on what you are trying to achieve at any given time. If you are just focused on shooting, the TG-5 is pleasant to use. If you are trying to change numerous settings on the TG-5, however, it could prove to be a more annoying camera.

Image Quality

Image quality was discussed extensively in Dave Pardue's Field Test, but I wanted to share some of my own thoughts as well. It's something of an oddity for a new camera to release with less megapixels than its predecessor, but that's precisely what the TG-5 has done. Where the TG-4 relied on a 16-megapixel sensor 1/2.3-inch sensor, the TG-4 employs a new backside-illuminated 12-megapixel sensor. Frankly, this makes considerably more sense because it's a very small sensor and 16 megapixels is too many to retain good image quality. I enjoyed shooting with the TG-4 and found its low ISO images to be fine, but it struggled at higher ISO settings.

5.5mm (30mm equiv.), f/3.2, 1/200s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.
5.5mm (30mm equiv.), f/3.2, 1/200s, ISO 100.
The original JPEG file for the processed RAW file above. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

When you combine a more reasonable megapixel count and a powerful processor in the TG-5, the end result is impressive image quality for a waterproof pocket camera. The TG-5 still won't match the image quality of something like a Micro Four Thirds camera, of course, as there are severe physical limitations at play, but the important thing to note is that the TG-5 produces better-looking images than the TG-4.

4.5mm (25mm equiv.), f/8, 1/80s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.
4.5mm (25mm equiv.), f/8, 1/80s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop of the above image. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

With a camera such as the TG-5, image quality also depends on the built-in lens. The lens is one of the few aspects of the imaging pipeline that remains unchanged compared to the TG-4. The lens offers a 4x optical zoom, which goes from an 35mm-equivalent range of 25mm to 100mm. The maximum aperture starts at a bright f/2.0 and decreases to f/4.9 by 100mm, which isn't great, but the lens needs to be very compact so achieving f/2.0 is impressive even if the telephoto end is not as good. As was the case with the TG-4, I find the lens to work well still with the TG-5. There are some issues in the extreme corners and sometimes very odd flaring, which you can see manifest itself as purple flare in the center of the frame in different shots in the gallery, but the lens can produce pretty sharp images. There can also be rather significant issues with fringing.

18mm (100mm equiv.), f/4.9, 1/500s, ISO 320.
Click for full-size image. No RAW image available. Like I experienced with the TG-4, sometimes there's a blue/purple circle in the center of the frame when shooting with the TG-5.
 
18mm (100mm equiv.), f/14, 1/100s, ISO 1000.
Click for full-size image. No RAW image available. You can see some chromatic aberration here. It's a pretty common issue with the TG-5.

Overall, I think that the TG-5's image quality is pretty good in general, and very good within the tough camera context. Less is more with the TG-5 when it comes to megapixels.

Video

The Olympus TG-5 has 4K UHD video recording (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), which is impressive. More impressive still is that the camera utilizes the full width of the sensor to record 4K video at up 30 frames per second. The camera records at a 102Mbps bit rate, which is pretty good too. That's some serious video recording capabilities for a sub-$400 underwater compact camera.

Olympus TG-5 4K Test Video #1 3840 x 2160 video at 30 frames per second
Download Original (219.6 MB .MOV File)

Olympus TG-5 4K Test Video #2 3840 x 2160 video at 30 frames per second
Download Original (454.9 MB .MOV File)

Unsurprisingly, however, the 4K video quality is not going to blow you away, but it can record 4Kp30 and do so underwater all while fitting in a pocket when you're done shooting. That said, the quality certainly isn't bad. Autofocus during video is something of a disappointment, though. The camera is prone to hunting for focus and even when focus is acquired, it can sometimes wobble, which is distracting. The image is also quite shaky if you zoom in or out during video recording. Further, there is some fairly substantial cropping with 4K video, so you won't be able to get a very wide image, even at the widest zoom setting.

Olympus TG-5 still frame cropped to 16:9.
Olympus TG-5 4K video frame.

If you want a faster frame rate, you can shoot at up to 60 fps in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) and at 120 fps in a special high-speed mode. You can shoot at 240 fps in 1280 x 720 and at 480 fps in standard definition resolution.

Olympus TG-5 4K Test Video #3 3840 x 2160 video at 30 frames per second
Download Original (188.2 MB .MOV File)

Olympus TG-5 Field Test Part II Summary

A fun compact tough camera which delivers improved performance

What I liked:

  • As tough as ever
  • Improved image quality
  • Better overall performance than the TG-4
  • Reliable autofocus in many conditions
  • Improved video features
9.6mm (53mm equiv.), f/4.5, 1/50s, ISO 200.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

What I didn't like:

  • Autofocus can be a little slow in low light
  • Built-in lens is impressively compact, but not very good optically
  • Odd flare issues at times

The Olympus TG-5 improves upon its predecessor in numerous ways. It may not offer a lot of incentive for a TG-4 owner to upgrade, but it makes a compelling case for being an excellent tough camera. If you have an imminent vacation or just enjoy a lot of outdoor activities, the TG-5 is a great companion. It easily slips away into a pocket, is very durable, can be used in any weather -- and underwater -- and offers many nice photo and video features. It's an enjoyable camera to use and it will survive essentially any outdoor fun you want to experience.

18mm (100mm equiv.), f/6.3, 1/400s, ISO 320.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

 

• • •

 

Olympus TG-5 Review -- Overview

by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted 05/17/2017

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

 

• • •

 

Olympus TG-5 Field Test Part I

Megapixel sanity meets enthusiast features

by Dave Pardue |

What a bold move by Olympus, going against the grain in the Great Megapixel Race with the 12mp TG-5. Yes, Sony did it with the full frame A7S series at 12mp, but they shielded themselves to a degree by the fact that buyers had choices for higher resolutions from them in the A7 and A7R lines as well. For Olympus, this is their only shot at luring potential buyers out there to invest in a tough camera, in an age where smartphones have already taken away so much of the compact camera market. A big gamble indeed.

We at IR have been very vocal about applauding any move away from the megapixel insanity, especially as relates to smaller sensor sizes. Complain all day if you want about how small a 1/2.3" sensor is, but the same crowd would complain a lot louder if

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