TG-5

TG-5

Olympus TG-5 Full Review

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This page was originally published as a TG-5 PREVIEW, but as of 8/10/17 we've updated it to a FULL REVIEW, featuring additional opinions, testing benchmarks, and photography by Josh Fate.


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Olympus has updated their Tough Series flagship for 2017. The TG-5 takes everything we loved about the TG-4, improves still image and video recording capabilities while adding features from the TG Tracker and OM-D E-M1 Mark II. And, no, that's not a joke.

The primary reason you want a TG-5 is because you can take them everywhere -- they are waterproof to 50 feet (15 meters), crushproof to 220 pounds of force (100 kilograms of force), shockproof from 7 feet (2.1 meters), freezeproof down to 14°F (-10°C), and dustproof. Think of Tough Series cameras like a GO PRO with all the conveniences and improved zoom capabilities of a point-and-shoot.

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With a 4x optical zoom lens (25-100mm equivalent), a 12MP BSI CMOS image sensor, and the new TruePic VII image processor out of the E-M1ii, the TG-5 is ready to shoot stills as well as UHD video. The new image sensor actually has fewer megapixels than last year's model, but, trust me, this is a very good thing. With less overall resolution on a similar sized sensor, fine detail performance should be dramatically improved across all ISO levels (up to 12800). For those who like to shoot RAW, the TG-5 will offer RAW + JPEG, RAW-only, and JPEG-only shooting options.

On the video side, the TG-5 is the first Tough Series model to offer 4K UHD video recording at 30p as well as high-speed Full HD video at up to 120fps (definitely check out the videos on the next page). You can even shoot higher frame rates at lower resolutions.

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Borrowing from the TG-Tracker, the TG-5 now boasts a Field Sensor System with a built-in GPS for cataloging latitude and longitude, a manometer for gauging altitude and water depth, a temperature sensor for air and water, and a compass. This information is not only stored in file metadata, but can be overlaid atop images and videos using the Olympus Image Track App -- which also makes handy use of the camera's built-in WiFi and requires a smartphone or tablet running iOS or Android.

The TG-5 also boasts FOUR specialized Macro Modes, allowing you to shoot subjects as close as 1cm (Microscope Mode), to magnify subjects up to 44.4 times (Microscope Control Mode), to automatically capture and in-camera-merge up to eight shots at varying focal lengths (Focus Stacking Mode), OR capture up to 30 images at varying focal lengths and then merge them off-camera (Focus Bracketing Mode).

Olympus is known for their fantastic in-camera image processing and that continues with the TG-5. You'll find 14 Art Filters, HDR capabilities, and Live Composite, a fantastic mode first developed for the company's OM-D ILC systems where you can easily capture star trails or do light painting. For reference, here's one of my favorite Live Composite sample from the TG-4:

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Other features include multiple Focus modes -- Face Detection AF, Focus Area Selection, Manual Focus, Manual Focus Assist, and Focus Peaking. The TG-5 also boasts a Pro Capture Mode (another E-M1ii trick), which buffers up to 10seconds worth of information before you press the shutter, ensuring that you never miss your exact shot. There are also several diver-focused modes -- Underwater Wide, Underwater Macro, Underwater Snapshot, and Underwater HDR. In all of these underwater modes, you can more accurate color, saturation, and contrast.

The TG-5's control dials and grip have been updated to help anyone shooting with gloves (in the cold or under water). There's a new accessory lock button on the body's front to keep optional accessories in place (see below). There are also more custom settings options on the mode dial. And last, but not least, the TG-5 uses a standard micro-USB connector (Olympus use to make its own proprietary cables, which were hard to find and expensive to replace -- this is far more universal).

PROS & CONS
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Pros
  • Compact and Light-weight
  • Very high-quality images for a point-n-shoot
  • TruePic VIII provides outstanding power for burst shooting, noise reduction, custom shooting and in-camera processing
  • Macro and Super Macro shooting is absolutely amazing
  • Specialized shooting modes for underwater shooting
  • Definitely lives up to its TOUGH name
  • Strobe Flash and LED light are ready fo r all shooting situations, still and video
  • Includes heavy-duty wrist strap for on the go
  • Excellent set of optional accessories for all occasions (see below)
  • GPS makes it easy to return to the exact spot of your favorite images
Cons
  • No touchscreen for fast and easy menu selection and touch to focus features
  • Screen can be difficult to see underwater (Must be looking straight on)
  • Lower resolution screen than we would like to see
  • Does not have full manual control
  • No Audio Input
  • Fringing with high-contrast / backlit shooting conditions
  • More grain than cameras than larger images sensors
  • AF doesn't always track well, especially in the dark or high contrast lighting
  • Audible noise during video recording when zooming and casual holding

KEY FEATURES
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  • 12-Megapixel BSI CMOS imaging sensor
  • TruePic VIII image processor
  • F/2.0-4.9, 4x optical zoom lens
  • Sensor Shift image stabilization
  • 4K Ultra HD video capture
  • RAW Capture
  • 20fps burst shooting (electronic shutter)
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Built-in GPS
  • Super Macro (Microscope) modes
  • Tough Build
    • Waterproof to 50ft.
    • Shockproof to 7ft.
    • Crushproof to 220lbs force
    • Freezeproof to 14°F
    • Dustproof
  • Anti-Fog Lens
  • Front mount for optional lens attachments and a ring flash
  • Action-Track Sensors
  • Art Filters

IN THE BOX
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  • Body
  • USB cable
  • Hand Strap
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty card
  • LI-92B Li-ion battery
  • F-5AC Li-ion battery charger

BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN
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Construction of the TG-5 is as good as you will find on any compact camera. With the adventurous in mind, the camera was designed to take anything you can throw at it, and remain ready to capture images and videos whenever you are. As the 5th generation of the Olympus Tough series, the camera has come along way in terms of its toughness. It also features its own set of tough accessories that provide more versatility than ever before. 

The TG-5 is a very stylish camera, with colors to compliment the tastes of anyone. Even among the world of "Tough" cameras, the TG-5 will catch anyone's attention.

ERGONOMICS
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Along with being tough, the TG-5 is also a very easy to handle and operate camera as well. Although it is just slightly larger than a standard point-n-shoot camera, in order to provide the extra protection, it features a fantastic layout that inspires confidence wielding and operating the camera. Rubber grips help you to hold on to the camera as well as providing a little extra protection.

The front really stands out, with the internal zoom lens as the center point. The Olympus and Tough logos surround the lens, so there is no mistaking this camera. In the top right, you will find both the strobe flash and LED light; giving you two lighting options for your varying shooting and video conditions. To the bottom right you will find the accessory release button, the same as you would find a lens release on an interchangeable lens camera. This works with the optional lens adapters as well a fantastic ring flash accessory. 

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The back of the camera gives a very standard point-n-shoot look, with a simple and un-intimidating look. To the right of the LCD display you will find the standard controls: Dedicated video recording button, Shooting mode dial, Info button, Playback button, Menu button and the 4-way controller. The 4-way controller also acts as a set of shortcuts to some of the camera's more common shooting settings.

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On top of the camera, you will find the zoom lever, shutter release, power button, command dial and the LOG switch. The GPS antenna and stereo microphone are also located on the top of the camera. Switching to the bottom you will find the tripod mount and sealed door covering the battery and SD card slot. Another sealed door can be found on the left side of the camera covering the camera's high-speed USB and HDMI output ports. 

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The sealed doors of the TG-5 are what really give the camera its underwater and dustproof ratings. Tough, tight-fitting doors lined with rubber seals fit very tightly together to ensure that nothing gets in. Each door features a release lever that must be pushed to pop it open. Each lever features its own locking switch to ensure that these doors never come open underwater by accident. 

MENUS & DISPLAYS
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Composing and viewing your images is accomplished with the 3.0-inch, 460,000 dot LCD screen. The mid-range resolution screen displays good color and good detail but comes in a little short of the top point-n-shoot models that provide a 900k dot or more resolution. This screen also lacks touch controls, which would be nice when shooting in some situations, but a problem in others (underwater, bumped/scratched). 

Olympus's menus have not changed since the last model -- as well as many of Olympus's other cameras (style and format, not settings) -- and still provide easy access to all of the camera's settings. As seen above, Olympus's menu system features an information mode which gives a description of each setting. This helps you to identify your camera settings and make the changes you need quickly, no guessing and hoping until you find what you are looking for. The TG-5 features more menu options than standard cameras, which allow you to fine tune the camera. This helps the camera bridge the gap of what can be done with it, pushing for more experienced photographers to pick it up for their adventurous shooting.

OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES

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Now that you know all about the TG-5's features and specifications, it's time to check out its performance characteristics and see SAMPLE IMAGES & VIDEOS. Please click over to the --

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