Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for TG-2_BLK_RIGHT.jpg
  • 12-Megapixel BSI CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch 610,000 dot OLED Screen
  • 4x Optical zoom lens: 25-100mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Dual Image Stabilzation
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • GPS
  • Eye-Fi and Flash Air compliant
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Magic shooting modes
  • Attachable Wide and Telephoto lenses
  • Waterproof to 50ft.
  • Dustproof
  • Can survive drops from 7ft.
  • FreezeProof to 14°F
  • CrushProof up to 220 lbs.
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • "Tough" features: Waterproof, Dustproof, Shockproof and Freezeproof protect the camera
  • Very Fast AF
  • Excellent image quality 
  • Sensor-Shift optical image stabilization keeps images sharp
  • High Res, Bright 3.0-inch OLED
  • Great shooting performance
  • Good Battery Life
  • HDMI output
Cons
  • No external battery charger to keep a spare ready
  • Buffer on camera fills quickly
  • Overwhelming noise at higher ISO settings
  • Screen can be hard to see underwater
  • Higher end price wise for a tough camera
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.3 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10 to 2/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.82 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 0.96 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  5.79fps 
  • High Speed Burst 1 = 14.29fps - 3M
  • High Speed Burst 2= 50.00fps - 3M
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
Olympus's Stylus TG-2 is their new leader in the "tough" or "lifeproof" camera category. Sporting a 12-Megapixel CMOS and powerful processor, this camera will also perform as well just about any other compact digicam. Add its stylish and very protective body and you have a camera that can handle just about anything.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for the best consumer "tough" or "lifeproof" camera available. This is made to withstand almost anything you can through at it and still provide excellent image quality.
Continuing on the great success of Olympus's "tough" cameras, the Stylus TG-2 takes the new front of the line position in the TG series. The most powerful and toughest of the series, it features a 12-Megapixel Backside Illuminated CMOS imaging sensor, TruePic VI image processor, internal 4x optical zoom lens, dual image stabilization, GPS and a high res. 3.0-inch LCD screen. Not only is this camera great for the adventurous and frequent travelers, it is perfect for households with kids and pools as well. Available in two bold color combinations, with a Red or Black body, this camera was made to stand out. 

The TG-2's tough settings include its ability to descend to depths of up to 50ft. without having any additional housing, withstand falls from up to 7ft, handle pressure up to 220lbs, temperatures down to 14° F and is completely dustproof once it has been closed up and locked. One of the keys to these abilities are the rubber gaskets on both doors that open. Once they are closed, the gaskets keep everything air tight to protect the camera. To make sure the doors are closed before use, they both feature a latch and lock system so there are no worries of them accidentally opening. The GPS is an excellent feature for anyone that likes to travel, recording where you captured images as well as pointing out nearby landmarks with the digital compass. 

To effectively use the TG-2 in any situation, the camera does require a little practice. While it is very easy to operate in common situations, some of the more extreme situations will call for you to know how to change settings and operate the camera without looking at it. Some of the small controls can be very hard to see underwater etc. Once you have the controls down, you will really enjoy using this camera. Rubber grips on both sides make it easy to hold and control with one or two hands, depending on what you are doing. Framing and viewing your images is accomplished on the 3.0-inch 610,000 dot OLED screen. With 5 levels of brightness and several scratch and anti-glare coatings, the screen is easy to see in almost every situation. 

Looking at our outdoor images, we can see that the camera fairs very well in most shooting situations, although it did struggle slightly with an overcast sky. Other than that, the exposure and colors are very accurate. Looking closely we did see a little noise in some of the darker and shadow areas, but nothing that really hurts the image. Aberrations are controlled very well, keeping the high contrast areas looking sharp. Composing your images is accomplished with the internal 4x optical zoom lens. With a 35mm equivalent of 25-100mm, it doesn't give you the greatest telephoto end in the world, but it is great for wide angle and portraits. The maximum f/2.0 wide end also lends great low-light capabilities which will serve you well when shooting in and under water.

Our indoor samples give us a better and more controlled look at the image quality. At the lower ISO settings, the images look great, showing us great deals of detail and low levels of noise for each setting. At ISO 800 the noise really starts to become noticeable, but it stays acceptable through ISO 1600. Anything after that should be avoided if possible as the noise has taken over and drowned out most of the smaller details. Assisting with the low-light images is a built-in, but small and weak flash unit. Its short range means that you will have to stay as close to your subject as possible, but it can be useful up close and to fill in some shadows when necessary. Using the flash underwater means you will have to stay even closer, as the light will not travel near as far. 

Shooting portraits with the TG-2 is very easy thanks to the camera's face detection software. It very quickly picks up any and all faces within the frame and does an excellent job of following them while they move. With the face detection, the camera will auto focus on the faces and set the exposure to make sure the detected faces are the priority in the image. When shooting a group, the camera will pick on specific face and highlight it with green while the others are highlighted with white. The green face will take priority over the faces, which in our sample image is the face on the far right. The other faces struggled slightly with the AF but the exposures and colors are very good. 

The Stylus TG-2 features a full set of "Magic" shooting modes. These modes are specially designed scene shooting modes that use the power of the TruePic VI processor to add some very creative effects to your images. It features some very popular modes like Miniature and Pin Hole, as well as some very unique modes like Punk and Fragmented. All of these effects are added to a full 12-Megapixel image, so you know the quality of these will be just as good as shooting in the normal shooting modes. We have posted several of these images for you to see. 

Underwater shooting is a little different than normal shooting. The brighter the situation you are in, the better your images will come out. Since light does not travel as well underwater, you will need to stay closer to your subjects, especially when using the flash. If you stay close, you will be very pleased with shooting underwater. Our samples, both still and video came out very well. Shooting in our indoor pool, we did not have enough light to shoot without the flash, since it is way too hard to keep the camera still enough for the slow shutter speeds. Shooting movies underwater also brings up a few new situations, most of all the audio. You most likely will not hear what you want and the noise may be very distracting while you watch. Try turning off or down the recording volume in the movie menu before shooting underwater.

Capturing movies with the TG-2 is fast and easy, since the camera is always ready to start recording at the push of a button. It captures smooth, sharp video in most lighting situations. Playback is smooth and enjoyable on the camera, computer or HDTV via the HDMI port on the camera. When watching on the camera your audio will come from a small built-in speaker that is no problem to hear in quiet surroundings. As with most digicams, the small microphone for recording audio is very sensitive and will not record what you shooting. Try to limit background noise using the wind and recording controls in the menu and positioning yourself away from background noises.

Powering the TG-2 is a 3.6V, 1270mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Olympus claims that the camera is capable of capturing up to 300 images on a single charge. Keep in mind this number will change when you start using some of the great features like the GPS. During our tests we were able to capture approx. 320 images and several short videos while completing our tests. This is with a good chunk of our images coming from testing the burst shooting modes. This is a very good battery life for this style camera, but when you are out on an adventure, it will go quickly. A spare battery is an excellent idea, but without a battery charger, it is a little harder to keep a spare charged and ready to go. Olympus has included a USB charger with an adapter to keep your battery charged while it is in the camera. 

Bottom Line - Once again we have been very impressed with Olympus's top Tough model. The Stylus TG-2 packs great quality and performance in to an incredibly tough camera. With an increase in its tough abilities as well as performance, this is a fantastic option for the adventurous; or just anyone that needs a camera that can withstand a little punishment. With a MSRP of US $379.99, it is one of the more expensive tough models on the market, but you are getting what you pay for.

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