Olympus TG-5 Image Quality


Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Below average saturation levels with about average hue accuracy.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Click for a larger image.

Saturation. The Olympus TG-5 pushes some colors likes strong reds and dark blues, but not as much as many cameras, and it undersaturates light green and aqua tones slightly, and yellow by quite a bit. The TG-5's mean color saturation of 103.1% (3.1% oversaturated) is quite a bit lower than average these days, and thus default color isn't as vibrant as most cameras. The TG-5 does not offer a saturation adjustment, however you can change Picture Mode from the default Natural setting to Vivid for brighter colors, in addition to various Scene and Filter modes. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. The Olympus TG-5 did fairly well here when white balance was matched to the lighting, producing pleasant Caucasian skin tones with a healthy-looking pinkish tint. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Olympus TG-5 shifts cyan toward blue, purple toward red, orange toward yellow, and yellow toward green by small to moderate amounts, but most other shifts are very minor. (The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors, and we don't find the resulting color objectionable.) The TG-5's handling of yellows is one of its weaknesses: Yellows are significantly undersaturated as well as being slightly shifted toward green, which can make them look a little dingy. With a mean "delta-C" color error of 5.74 after correction for saturation, overall hue accuracy is about average. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images


Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Default Auto setting produced overly cool results, and Incandescent was a bit too yellow. Manual (custom) white balance was pretty accurate. Average exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Auto White Balance, Keep Warm
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance was cool and bluish with the default Auto white balance setting, though the TG-5 has a "Keep Warm Color" option which was quite warm. The Incandescent setting produced a slight yellow/green cast. The Manual setting was the most accurate and fairly neutral. The Olympus TG-5 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation, which is about average for this scene. (Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.)

Outdoors, daylight
Realistic looking colors overall, with good exposure.

Manual White Balance,
+0.3 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Olympus TG-5 performed well for its type, with natural if slightly subdued colors and good exposure in sunlit conditions. Skin tones are good but slightly warm and yellow with the Auto white balance setting in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot, so we preferred Manual white balance for its slightly pinker rendering. The Olympus TG-5 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation to keep the mannequin's face relatively bright, which is less than the average required (+0.7 EV) for this shot. Default contrast is a bit high and quite a few highlights were blown in the mannequin's shirt and flowers, while deep shadows are quite noisy and discolored, but that's typical for such a small sensor. The Far-field shot has very good exposure at default settings with almost no blown highlights, though again there are some dark shadows that are very noisy and discolored. Again, this is no surprise for a small 1/2.3"-type sensor.

~2,150 lines of soft detail.

In-camera JPEG:
~2,150 lines horizontal
In-camera JPEG:
~2,150 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW:
~2,150 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW:
~2,150 lines vertical

An in-camera JPEG of our laboratory resolution chart revealed soft but distinct line patterns up to about 2,150 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and to about 2,150 lines per picture height in the vertical direction. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur until about 2,400 lines in both directions. Adobe Camera Raw produced similar results, though with a lot more chromatic aberration and noise at default noise reduction settings. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

Sharpness & Detail
Images are somewhat soft at default settings, though with some visible sharpening artifacts. Moderate noise reduction even at base ISO reduces fine detail.

Fair definition of high-contrast
elements here with moderate
sharpening halos.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast.

Sharpness. The Olympus TG-5 produces somewhat soft images as is often the case with this class of camera, though it tries to compensate with some aggressive sharpening which leaves visible sharpening halos around high-contrast edges. This is pretty typical of compact cameras, though, especially those with folded internal optics. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows moderate levels of noise suppression in the mannequins's hair, with many individual strands smudged together in areas of low contrast, even at base ISO. This is improved performance compared to its predecessor (TG-4), though, which showed even stronger noise reduction due to its smaller pixels. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above the Olympus TG-5 produces somewhat soft images that suffer loss of fine detail as a result of aggressive noise processing as well as less than stellar optics. Compare a base ISO in-camera JPEG to an Adobe Camera Raw conversion below to see what we mean.

Base ISO (100)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default settings (on the left) to a matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 via DNG Converter using default noise reduction with strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (in this case 400% USM with a radius of 0.5 pixels and a threshold of 0).

As you can see from the ACR conversion, you can extract a lot more fine detail from the TG-5's RAW files than what a camera JPEG contains, however there is quite a bit of noise already at base ISO, which is the challenge when dealing with RAW images from cameras with such a small 1/2.3"-type sensor. The TG-5's RAW images can also be quite soft depending on the focal length and aperture, requiring copious amounts of sharpening which tends to exacerbate noise. You can of course apply noise reduction (we converted with default noise reduction enabled above). Bottom line: You can extract much better detail than the in-camera JPEGs contain with a good RAW converter, provided you're willing to experiment and apply fairly strong noise reduction, sharpening and lens corrections.

ISO & Noise Performance
Improved high ISO performance compared to its predecessor, but not as much as we had hoped.

Default High ISO Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400 ISO 12,800

As you can see from the above crops, the Olympus TG-5 doesn't offer very good high ISO performance, and even at base ISO, a fair amount of fine detail is lost due to fairly aggressive default noise reduction. That's typical for such a small 1/2.3" sensor, however unlike its predecessor, high ISO noise reduction can be adjusted on the TG-5. Olympus calls high ISO noise reduction "Noise Filter", and there are 4 available settings on the TG-5: "Off", "Low", "Standard" and "High". The shots above used the default "Standard" setting.

As was true for the TG-4, you'll want to keep ISO sensitivity as low as possible with the TG-5, as image quality deteriorates very quickly as sensitivity rises above ISO 400. Still, when viewing crops at 100% like this, there is a noticeable improvement in detail retention, noise levels and even color compared to the TG-4. However, keep in mind the TG-5's lower 12 megapixel resolution versus the TG-4's 16MP, so the improvements didn't really yield any significant dividends in print sizes. See the Print Quality section below for details.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
High contrast with limited dynamic range. Decent low-light performance for its class.

0 EV +0.3 EV +0.7 EV

The Olympus TG-5 did fairly well for its class with this difficult shot, requiring +0.3 EV exposure compensation, which is less than the average amount of needed (+0.7 EV) to keep the mannequin's face bright in this harsh lighting. As mentioned previously, quite a few highlights were blown, though, and very deep shadows exhibit high levels of noise, blotchy discoloration and posterization. Still, performance here is above average for a pocket camera with such a small sensor.

Oddly, the TG-5 does not offer Olympus' useful Gradation feature found in their Micro Four Thirds cameras despite using the same TruePic VIII image processor found in their latest models.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here. In actual shooting conditions, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown here; it's better to shoot in open shade whenever possible.)

Face Detection
Off at 0 EV
Aperture priority, f/4
On at 0 EV
Aperture priority, f/4
Full Auto

Face Detection. Like most cameras these days, the Olympus TG-5 has the ability to detect faces, and adjust exposure and focus accordingly. As you can see from the examples above, just enabling face detect AF did detect a face according to EXIF metadata, but oddly made little difference to exposure. Full Auto mode however enabled the flash and produced a better exposure.

Backlight High Dynamic Range Scene Mode
Backlight HDR:

Backlight HDR Scene Mode. Like the TG-4, the TG-5 offers a "Backlight HDR" scene mode which "captures multiple images and merges them into one, properly exposed image" according to Olympus. No details are given as to how many images are merged, and there are no options to adjust strength or exposure range. There is also a separate "Underwater HDR" scene mode, which we did not test.

Above, you can see the TG-5's Backlight HDR mode at work with our Far-field shot. (Mouse over the links to compare, and click on them to access full resolution images.) The resulting HDR image does have compressed highlights and reduced noise from merging multiple images, however shadows are actually a bit darker than with it disabled, and overall the image is underexposed. (Our Outdoor Portrait shot in HDR mode also turned out underexposed.) Given the feature's name, we suspect it will work better for heavily backlit scenes.

Low Light
Decent low-light capabilities for its class.

The longest shutter speed supported by the TG-5 is 4 seconds which is quite limiting, however the camera does have some scene modes which work well in low-light, including Handheld Star Light and Live Composite modes, the latter essentially giving you a bulb-mode-like capability up to three hours.

The Olympus TG-5 was able to autofocus down to -1.9 EV on our legacy low-contrast AF target and down to -4.2 EV on our newer high-contrast target unassisted, when shooting at wide angle and at f/2.0. This is excellent performance for a pocket camera. The TG-5 also has an AF assist LED which allows it to autofocus in complete darkness when the subject is in range and has sufficient contrast.

See below for test results with the built-in flash.

Flash Test Results

Coverage, Exposure and Range
A weak flash with narrow coverage, but range is helped by the fast lens.

Coverage, Wide Angle

Coverage. Flash coverage was quite uneven at wide angle, leaving very dark corners and edges in our flash coverage test image, and you can also see some unevenness in illumination vertically as well. Narrow coverage at wide angle isn't unusual, though, and some of the corner darkening is likely from the lens itself. We no longer test flash coverage at telephoto, as it is invariably better, making wide angle the worst case scenario.

f/4.0, 1/60s, ISO 200
+1.0 EV Flash Compensation

Exposure. The TG-5 underexposed our standard flash portrait shot at f/4 and ISO 200, and dialing in flash exposure compensation made no difference to the exposure. You'll want to use a higher ISO and/or a wider aperture for most flash shots. (Note that the TG-5 does not have a flash hot-shoe, however its built-in flash can control compatible remote slave flashes.)

Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range

10.2 feet
f/4.9, 1/100s, ISO 1600

Manufacturer Specified Flash Range Test. The Olympus TG-5's flash range is rated at 7.9m / 25.9 ft at wide angle, and 3.1m / 10.2 ft at full telephoto at ISO 1600. In the above shot at the telephoto range, the TG-5 produced a reasonably bright flash target, indicating Olympus' flash range rating is credible. We shoot this test shot using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.

Output Quality

Print Quality
A good 13 x 19 inch print at ISO 100, a good 8 x 10 at ISO 400, and a good 5 x 7 at ISO 800 and ISO 1600.

ISO 100 prints are quite good at 13 x 19 inches. There is a nice amount of fine detail and the colors are well represented throughout. For a rugged camera with a small 1/2.3"-type sensor, we like what we're seeing here at base ISO with the prints. The 16 x 20 inch prints here can definitely be used for wall display purposes and less critical applications as well.

ISO 200 requires a reduction in print size to 11 x 14 inches in order to satisfy our requirements for passing the "good" seal. Most all contrast detail is now lost in our target's tricky red-leaf swatch, but otherwise this 11 x 14 inch print is quite good and pleasing in most respects.

ISO 400 yields a good print at the common size of 8 x 10 inches, with enough fine detail to pass our good grade while offering worthwhile color representation. The 11 x 14 inch prints here have a bit of noise in flatter areas of our test target, but are not too bad and can certainly be used for less critical purposes.

ISO 800 delivers a 5 x 7 inch print that very much passes our good seal. The 8 x 10's here are slightly muted, with a bit too much noise to pass muster, but a reduction to 5 x 7 tightens the overall print quality up nicely.

ISO 1600 also yields a 5 x 7 inch print that passes our good grade. Colors are still well represented across the spectrum and there is just enough detail to make the cut, with no apparent noise at this size.

ISO 3200 just passes the grade, delivering a good 4 x 6 inch print. It is ever-so-slightly muted due to "gain-strain" at this sensor size, but otherwise it passes the test.

ISOs 6400 and 12,800 do not yield usable prints and these gain settings are best avoided for all printing purposes.

The Olympus TG-5 performs as expected in the print quality department given the relatively small sensor. A very good 13 x 19 inch print can be attained while shooting at base ISO, and this is a nice feat in general for a rugged waterproof camera. And yet if you intend to print 8 x 10's you will for sure want to remain at ISO 400 and below, as anything higher will simply not yield good results while printing at 8 x 10 inches. Given the larger pixels courtesy of the move back to 12 megapixels from 16MP in the TG-4, we'd hoped for better high ISO performance as compared to the predecessor, but the sensor size really limits the performance potential above ISO 400, regardless of the slight increase in pixel size.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Olympus Tough TG-5 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Olympus Tough TG-5 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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