Olympus TG-1: Can a rugged compact offer SLR image quality?


posted Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 12:59 AM EDT

Olympus's Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for our Olympus TG-1 preview!Rugged, lifestyle cameras have really taken off over the last few years, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Olympus, an early pioneer in the field of lifeproof digital cameras. Even with camera phones gobbling up compact camera market share, these solidly-built fixed-lens cameras still offer a clear advantage over your smartphone: the ability to shoot in pretty-much any conditions where you as the photographer might dare to venture. Unfortunately, in many cases this emphasis on tank-like cameras hasn't produced the most enjoyable photographic experience, and nor have these models necessarily offered sufficient image quality.

Today, Olympus aims to change all that with the debut of the Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS, a camera it says offers "DSLR image quality" in the durable form-factor you'd expect from an Olympus Tough-series compact. The Olympus TG-1 still offers shockproofing, crushproofing, coldproofing, and even has improved waterproofing, yet with a difference: it also sports a lens with a bright f/2.0 wide angle, and the ability to attach accessory lenses. The Olympus TG-1 also offers somewhat less aggressive styling than is typical of lifestyle cameras, and in the process hopefully yields a more intuitive, camera-like interface that even manages to fit in a Mode dial.

With the exception of the new body, lens and an Organic LED display, basic specifications of the Olympus TG-1 are fairly close to the TG-820 iHS model that launched earlier this year, but with some of the geolocation functionality from last year's TG-810 model added back into the design. Pricing is set at around US$400, and availability is slated for June 2012. More details can be found in our Olympus TG-1 preview.

Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS
Olympus' Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for a bigger picture!
Camera Type Compact
Manufacturer North America: TG-1
Dimensions 3.9 x 2.5 x 1.0 in.
(100 x 65 x 26 mm)
Weight 7.8 oz (221 g)
Planned Price $400
Planned Availability June 2012
Image Capture
Sensor Type CMOS
1/2.3" (approx. 0.43 in. diagonal)
12.00 megapixels (effective)
Aspect Ratio 16:9, 4:3
Image Dimensions 3968 x 2976 (11.8 megapixels)
3968 x 2232 (8.9 megapixels)
3264 x 2448 (8.0 megapixels)
2560 x 1920 (4.9 megapixels)
2048 x 1536 (3.1 megapixels)
1920 x 1080 (2.1 megapixels)
1600 x 1200 (1.9 megapixels)
1280 x 960 (1.2 megapixels)
640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
Capture Speed Continuous: 30.0 frames per second
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder No
LCD 3.0 in. diagonal610,000 dots
OLED Screen Yes
Image Stabilization Yes
Focal Length 4.5 - 18.0mm (actual)
25 - 100mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Range f/2.0 (wide) / f/4.9 (tele) - ???
Focusing System Contrast Detection: Face Detect AF, iESP Auto, Spot AF, AF Tracking
Has AF assist lamp
Focusing Range Normal: 24" - infinity (60 cm - infinity)
Macro: 0.4" - 24" (1 cm - 60 cm)
ISO Sensitivity Auto, High, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
Shutter Speed 4 - 1/2000 second
Exposure Modes Program
Metering Modes Digital ESP Metering, Spot Metering
Exposure Compensation +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor - Auto, Sunlight, Overcast, Tungsten, Underwater, Custom
Internal Flash Modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In, Off
Range: ISO 800: Wide: 0.66ft (0.2m) - 11.5ft (3.5m), Tele: 1.64 ft (0.5m) - 8.2ft (2.5m)
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 0.0EV
Scene Modes Beauty Mode with Make-up Mode, Scene Modes (Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Indoor, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach & Snow, Underwater Snapshot, Underwater Wide 1, Underwater Wide 2, Underwater Macro, Pet (Cat), Pet (Dog), Backlight HDR), In-Camera Panorama; Magic Art Filters: Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish Eye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle, Water Color, Reflection, Miniature, Fragmented, Dramatic
Digital Zoom Up to 4x
Self Timer Yes, 2, 12, Pet auto-shutter seconds
Movie Format MOV/H.264 with Stereo Linear PCM sound with audio
Recording Medium SD/MMC including SDHC, SDXC, Built-in
File Format JPEG, .MPO
Other Multi-Terminal (USB Connector, DC Input, Audio/Video Output), HDMI Type-D
Battery Type Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary LI-90B
Product Bundle
Software OLYMPUS [ib] software CD-ROM
Battery / Charger 1 x Proprietary LI-90B lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger
Flash Memory 7.9MB built-in memory
Internal Microphone Yes
Internal Speaker Yes
Tripod Mount Yes
Notes Waterproof to 12m/40ft, Freezeproof to -10C/-14F, Crushproof to 100kgf, Shockproof to 2m, Dustproof, GPS, Electronic Compass, Manometer. A converter ring allows you to add a lens converter adapter, waterproof Fisheye Converter Lens and Teleconverter Lens for use on land or in water. Available in silver body color.
More Photos
Olympus' Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for a bigger picture!
Olympus' Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for a bigger picture!
Olympus' Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for a bigger picture!
with fisheye lens mounted
Olympus' Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for a bigger picture!
with conversion ring mounted
Olympus' Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for a bigger picture!
Olympus' Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for a bigger picture!
Olympus' FCON-T01 fisheye converter lens. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for a bigger picture!
Olympus' TCON-T01 teleconverter lens. Photo provided by Olympus. Click for a bigger picture!


Press Release

Capture Pro Image Quality From A Whole New Perspective: Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS

Durability Unites with DSLR-Image Quality, Best-In-Class f2.0 Lens, Full 1080p HD Video and Amazing Features for Thrill Seekers, Reef-Loving Explorers and Everyone In Between

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., May 8, 2012 – Olympus draws on its heritage of creating rugged, durable cameras that take the worry out of life-on-the-go shooting with the new Olympus TG-1 iHS. Marking a revolution for the Tough Series of Waterproof, Shockproof, Freezeproof, Crushproof and Dustproof compact cameras, the Olympus TG-1 iHS combines incredible durability with iHS technology, the world’s first high-speed bright f2.0 lens on a Tough camera and converter-lens compatibility to create a versatile system camera. The combination of durability and outstanding image quality make it possible to shoot in even the harshest conditions. Capture beautiful underwater scenes and aquatic life, snap photos of dusk-lit peaks or record your ride down the rapids in dazzling 1080p Full HD Video.

Superior Optics
The Olympus TG-1 iHS is the world’s first rugged camera to incorporate an ultra-bright, high-speed f2.0 lens* so you can capture high-quality images at blazing fast shutter speeds, even in low-light conditions. The camera’s three-inch high-resolution OLED display (610K dots) provides excellent visibility in bright situations, enabling you to compose the perfect shot in direct sunlight. Protective coatings help to prevent scratches and cut down on reflective glare, and the new lens on the Olympus TG-1 iHS transforms your photographs with the same FAST AF system technology found in Olympus PEN® cameras. Never worry about water droplets obstructing your images thanks to the water-repellent lens coating that prevents water from remaining on the lens surface.

Unmatched Rugged Durability
From atop an Alpine mountain to the depths of a tropical lagoon, the Olympus TG-1 iHS captures the perfect shot in unforgiving environments. Waterproof to 40 feet, Shockproof to 6.6 feet, Freezeproof to 14°F and even Crushproof to a weight of 220 pounds, the flagship Olympus Tough model is the toughest Tough model to date and an exceptionally high-speed performer with faster start-up time and quicker refresh rates.

Outstanding Image Quality
A high-sensitivity, high-speed 12-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor combined with a blazing fast, DSLR-quality TruePic™ VI image processor results in high-speed autofocus, enhanced Intelligent Auto for spectacular scene and subject recognition, and 10x Super-resolution Zoom to produce jaw-dropping images in locations that make even the most seasoned photographers cringe. This family of technologies combines for unmatched image quality in challenging shooting conditions with improved lighting, less noise and response times twice as fast as traditional cameras.

Designed specifically to keep up with the on-the-go photographer, the new Super Sport Mode combines high-speed autofocus with extra fast shutter speeds – up to 1/2000 – to freeze the action. Conveniently located on the dial, this mode captures five shots in a high-speed burst to ensure crisp shots in even the most extreme action sport settings. Low Light Mode is perfect for capturing the mood of low-light indoor scenes, beautiful sunsets or late night outdoor festivities without ruining the ambience with a bright flash. Shoot like a pro with 10 frames-per-second high-speed burst shooting and 1080p Full HD videos (1920x1080 pixels) or 60 frames-per-second (3mp) at the touch of button, allowing for slow-motion playback. Thanks to iHS Technology, your videos will benefit from excellent color reproduction and faster processing speeds, while Multi-Motion IS compensates for user movement during recording, creating smoother videos. Linear PCM Recording, an audio technology pioneered by Olympus for professional voice recorders, records your videos with high-definition audio for optimal playback results.

In iAuto mode, the Olympus TG-1 iHS automatically detects the subject, lighting and situation to identify the scene you’re shooting – up to 30 different scenes including Night, Sport, Beach and Snow, Underwater Snapshot and Backlight HDR – and adjusts the settings for ideal results.

System Expandability
For serious photographers, Olympus is offering system expandability for the Olympus TG-1 iHS. A converter ring allows you to add a lens converter adapter, waterproof Fisheye Converter Lens and Teleconverter Lens for use on land or in water. The Fisheye Converter Lens captures panoramic, wide-angle shots without sacrificing the brightness of the 4x wide optical zoom (25-100mm*) f2.0 lens. The Teleconverter Lens extends your optical zoom from 4x to 6.8x, delivering dramatic close-ups with professional-looking background blur. Combined with the Olympus TG-1 iHS’ 8x Super-resolution Zoom, which extends the range of the optical zoom with virtually no loss of image quality, you can reach an unmatched 13.6x magnification. Both converter lenses are waterproof to 40 feet. If 40 feet is not deep enough for you, the new Olympus PT-053 underwater housing is designed specifically for the TG-1 iHS, enabling you to dive to depths of 135 feet (45m).

Extreme Versatility
With the GPS and e.compass functions on the Olympus TG-1 iHS, location and landmark information will be displayed and recorded along with every image. The camera is also equipped with a logging function so you can track the route taken from recorded images by using applications such as Google Earth and Picasa. And with the brand-new LI-90 battery, you’ll worry less about battery life and more about your next destination. Mark your spot on the map with the built-in manometer, which records elevation and water depth and even displays a warning when the user approaches a depth of 40 feet. The Olympus TG-1 iHS boasts four different underwater scene modes -- Underwater Snapshot, Underwater Wide 1, Underwater Wide 2 and Underwater Macro -- each carefully calibrated to allow for optimal color balance, exposure and flash so you automatically get the best results. An LED illuminator on the front of the camera enhances focus and exposure for macro shooting – great for underwater close-ups where light is scarce. The LED illuminator also works in conjunction with the flash to help illuminate your subject in low-light conditions.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The Olympus TG-1 iHS will be available in June and ships with a USB Cable & Charger (F-3AC), Lithium-Ion Battery (Li-90B), Wrist Strap, Instruction Manual and ib Software CDs, Quick Start Guide and a Warranty Card.
Estimated Street Price: $399.99 (Available in Silver)
Underwater housing will be available in July.

For a complete list of specifications, visit the Olympus website.

Olympus Imaging America Inc. is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering award-winning products for consumer and professional markets.

Olympus Imaging America Inc. works collaboratively with its customers and its ultimate parent company, Olympus Corporation, to develop breakthrough technologies with revolutionary product design and functionality that enhance people’s lives every day. These include:

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Specifications and design are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer. All trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective holder.
©2012 Olympus Imaging America Inc.

*As of April 23, 2012
** Waterproof according to IEC standard publication 529 IPX8. Shockproof figures equivalent to MIL Standard (Olympus test conditions). Freezeproof according to Olympus test conditions.

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