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Performance (speed)

The Olympus Tough TG-2 does not disappoint in the performance department. It starts up in less than a second, and can take a photo a fraction of a second later.

Autofocus is extremely quick by compact camera standards. In good light and at wide-angle, the camera locks focus virtually instantaneously. When the lens is at the telephoto position, focus times are still well under a second. Even in low light - where many compact cameras struggle - the TG-2 keep focus acquisition speed under a second, regardless of the focal length.

You'll wait for just one second before you can take another photo. Adding the flash into the mix increases this delay to three seconds.

The TG-2 also offers impressive continuous shooting performance for a compact camera, with the ability to take up to 100 shots at a blazing 5.4 fps. If you don't mind lowering the resolution to 3 megapixel, you can shoot at 15 or 60 frames/second, which produces high-speed and slow-motion videos (respectively) when played back at normal speed.

The good news continues when you look at the TG-2's battery life. The camera, powered by a 4.6Wh battery, is rated at 350 shots using the CIPA standard, which is very good for this class. We were able to get through a day (or more) without issue. Do note that using the GPS - especially the tracking function - will decrease battery life considerably. The battery is charged internally, using an AC-to-USB adapter.

Image Quality

On land, the TG-2's photo quality is more than acceptable for a compact camera. Exposure was accurate though, like most compacts, the TG-2 will clip highlights at times. Colors are really 'punchy', which is a trademark of Olympus cameras. Photos are on the soft side - possibly due to the folded optics design - though you won't notice unless you're viewing them at 100%. There's some luminance noise at low ISOs, and the TG-2 tends to smudge fine detail in areas of high frequency and low contrast. You will encounter some chromatic aberration on the TG-2, though normally it's not a big problem.

Bright Light, Low ISO
Aside from some highlight clipping at the lower-left of the photo, the TG-2 photos are well exposed.

ISO 100, 1/800 sec, f/2.8
If you view photos at 100%, you'll notice that they're on the soft side. That said, if you're considering the TG-2 for large exhibition prints, you're probably not looking in the right place.

As is usually the case, image quality goes downhill as the sensitivity increases. The TG-2 does a respectable job at ISO 800, which you can still use for smaller-sized prints and web viewing. ISO 1600 is still usable if there's enough light, but if it's dark outside (as in the example below), it's best avoided. There's very little detail left at ISO 3200, so using this sensitivity isn't recommended.

One option for reducing highlight clipping is to use the camera's HDR mode. This takes three photos in a row - one at normal exposure, a second under-exposed, and a third over-exposed - and layers them together into a single image with more balanced contrast.

Low Light, High ISO
At ISO 800, there's a fair amount of detail loss, as some noise on the carpet that gives the appearance of false color. Still, it's perfectly usable for most purposes.

ISO 800, 1/30 sec, f/2.0

It's worth mentioning that the TG-2's fast lens means that it won't need to increase the sensitivity as quickly as a camera with a slower lens (meaning most other rugged cameras). This is only true at wide-angle, though, as the lens isn't nearly as 'fast' at telephoto.

When you take the TG-2 underwater, you'll be pretty impressed. Not so much by the level of detail (photos can be a little noisy at ISO 200, which is the setting the TG-2 reaches for most, in our experience), but by the complete lack of a color cast, which plagues other cameras in this class. The TG-2's fast lens also allows for faster shutter speeds at lower sensitivities compared to underwater cameras with slower lenses. And you'll need those fast shutter speeds to cast those incredibly quick fish.

The TG-2 impressed us with its underwater white balance. Where many of its peers had noticeable bluish casts, the photos from the Olympus required no post-capture color adjustment.

ISO 200, 1/320 sec, f/6.3

For more sample photos and analysis, please read our full review of the Olympus Tough TG-2.

Video Quality

As mentioned on the previous page, the Olympus Tough TG-2 can record video at 1920 x 1080 (30 fps) for up to twenty-four minutes. Below are three samples, taken both above and below sea level.

Sample Video 1

The first video shows off a rather strange (not to mention annoying) issue that we found with the TG-2. When panning, the image starts to get wobbly and choppy, which we attribute to the sensor-shift IS system going 'crazy'. We were able to replicate this problem several times.

1920 x 1080, 30p, 20 Mbps, 31.2 MB, 12 secs Click here to download original video

As you can see, it's not a very desirable effect.

Sample Video 2

Our final sample video takes place a few feet underwater, where the author is chasing after a tropical fish. This video is wobbly as well, though that's due more to the photographer moving around to keep the fish in the frame than anything.

1920 x 1080, 30p, 20 Mbps, 24.8 MB, 10 secs Click here to download original video

The most impressive part of this video is that - like the still photos - there's no color cast to be found. You might as well turn off audio recording underwater, as there's nothing worth hearing.

Final Thoughts

There's a lot to like about the Olympus Tough TG-2. It has one of the most rugged bodies on the market, and it's lens is faster than most of its peers, at least at wide-angle. It offers several feature you won't find on your typical rugged camera, including wireless flash control, an aperture priority mode, support for conversion lenses and filters, and a unique 'tap control' feature. The TG-2 has a full-featured GPS feature, complete with a compass, depth/altitude gauge, landmarks, and a fairly useless map.

Performance is very good and battery life is strong. Photo quality is good for its class, though images are on the soft side, and chromatic aberrations can be strong at times. We were, however, quite impressed with the TG-2's underwater image quality, which lacked the blue/green color cast of all of its peers.

Aside from image quality, there aren't too many other negatives to bring up about the TG-2. While its OLED display looks great indoors, outdoor visibility is quite poor. And, as with most compact cameras, the flash is very weak. Finally, the videos produced by the TG-2 have an undesirable "wobbly" effect.

Overall, the Olympus TG-2 is a solid choice for outdoor enthusiasts or divers. Its biggest problem is undoubtedly the visibility of its OLED display, so be sure to try before you buy.

Click here to read the full conclusion from our Olympus TG-2 review

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Comments

Total comments: 123
12
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (11 months ago)

From this lineup, Lumix and Nikon are about the only ones you would not be ashamed of being seen as a user.

There rest are just Comedy Central.

.

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (11 months ago)

not even...
Nikon: Not good for: Frequent shooting in bright light, pixel peepers, or those who want long battery life
Panasonic Lumix: "Photo quality is typical for this class. Fine details are often smudged and chromatic aberrations can be strong at times." Not good for: Low light

0 upvotes
tommy leong
By tommy leong (11 months ago)

does GoPro and Astac 7200 fit into this category ?

0 upvotes
Rod McD
By Rod McD (11 months ago)

Hi DPR, thanks for your review.

People buy these things because there's no alternative other than a bigger camera and a housing. I'd like to see a manufacturer opt for a new approach. Year after year your reviews (and others) comment on their small sensors and poor IQ. The internet is also littered with leak complaints and poor company response on guarantees.

There seems to be a view that wilderness/outdoor/water sport followers don't value better IQ, which is absolutely untrue. And that serious photographers should have a D4 in a housing. Try stuffing one of those in your life jacket. The middle ground - the old Nikonos - is gone.

We need a manufacturer to make a robust, WR, direct light path camera with an APSC sensor, a fixed 24-85eq zoom (or primes) and real "O" rings. One 25mm "O" ring cover could give access to an SD card, a shaped battery and USB plug. Add a decent grip. And useable with gloves please.

Yes it would be bigger and cost more. But worth every cent.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
Treeshade
By Treeshade (11 months ago)

Most of these cameras are not only water-proof but also shock-proof - they are not just for diving, but also for skiing, skating, mountain-biking, etc.. It would be really difficult to shock-proof an APSC standard zoom.

Imagine the thickness of a 58mm fliter that would not break when dropped to the ground with a 1kg body crushing it.

But I agree that it would be fantastic be have, for example, a weatherproof tough X100s.

1 upvote
breth
By breth (11 months ago)

Agree with Rod. I can't be completely sure, but I believe there is a good market out there for a WR aps-c sensor serious compact. Not only would it be the backpacker's ultimate camera for convenience, I think that perhaps it would also interest streetshooters who like to get photos in the rain, or other less than perfect conditions.
If Ricoh-Pentax would use their expertise in designing cameras like this, I see no reason why a serious WR compact would not be a hit. A WR Ricoh GR would perhaps not have to be much bigger than it already is - and even if it would be, it still would be very attractive to a lot of backpackers.

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (11 months ago)

I'd settle for a waterproof RX100.

it would seem like a reasonable compromise.

2 upvotes
KonstantinosK
By KonstantinosK (11 months ago)

I'd even be happy with a waterproof DMC LX7. But even this seems highly unlikely to happen...

2 upvotes
monkeybrain
By monkeybrain (11 months ago)

I completely agree with all these comments. A waterproof and ruggedized Ricoh GR or Nikon Coolpix A would be a great outdoor sport camera. Also, Nikon wants to revitalise the Nikon 1? Bring out a fully waterproof and shockproof model with a couple similarly toughened primes to match. It's already got the great autofocus that would be good for skiing etc. Nikonos reborn!

2 upvotes
LaFonte
By LaFonte (11 months ago)

It is extremely expensive to make waterproof "real" camera that would withstand more than a year of use. On all professional equipment you have to regularly change the o-rings and take pretty good care of the housing. A grain of sand can make waterproof camera no longer waterproof.
All of those small wp cameras are basically with planned 1 year obsolescence. They are cheap inside so if they start leaking, then you throw it away and get new one. Many of those would leak after some time, some even after first dip :-)
You definitely don't want a wp expensive camera like rx100 or x100 and nobody will make it. If you need wp you will buy a marina case that is probably more expensive than the camera itself, but it will protect your equipment.

0 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (11 months ago)

Sony rx100 option here below.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/909217-REG/Ikelite_6116_10_Housing_For_Sony.html

0 upvotes
tiberius_dinu
By tiberius_dinu (11 months ago)

I have bought the Lumix TS5 and I'm very pleased with it. The image quality is as good as it can be in this class but would not care more about. I do shoot Canon 6D but I can not take in the water or running or snorkeling. The video is as advertised and it looks awesome and that was one of te reasons I opted for TS5. I had no issues with the wifi and it connects smoothly to my ipad, iPhone and the LG android I'm using. Neat to be able to control the zoom and the settings in the camera remotely.

Thanks for the reviews I did follow them and it did help me.

Cheers

T

2 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (11 months ago)

Would have liked to have seen some mention/discussion of options out there using dedicated or aftermarket housings in conjunction with standard compact cameras. Ie. Can u get a better performing camera + housing for not much price difference?

1 upvote
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (11 months ago)

This is the review you should have made to begin with instead of giving every single rugged camera its own review. Why do you assign these cameras for review rather than the many mirrorless cameras you have skipped or may be about to skip over like the GF5, G5, GF6, G6, E-PL5, NEX-5R, NEX-3N, just off the top of my head. Not a single one of your six individual rugged reviews got even 100 comments. I guarantee you that any one of the cameras I mentioned would get more than 100 comments if it was still the current model.

5 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (11 months ago)

We don't judge success by comments - if we did, every other news story would be about Adobe Creative Cloud.

16 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (11 months ago)

Simon Joinson himself said that you judge success by traffic and I'm sure there's a strong correlation between number of comments and number of page views.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (11 months ago)

bah! come on!
no harm was done.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (11 months ago)

We're talking about cameras that should have been reviewed and weren't, not whatever your definition of "harm" is.

0 upvotes
monkeybrain
By monkeybrain (11 months ago)

I doubt there is a correlation between comments and page views. Most page views surely come from people who are not registered members of the site. DPReview reviews cameras that will generate more page hits, so why budget DSLRs are reviewed in a timely fashion and also consumer friendly cams like these rugged cameras (summer's almost over though, these are a bit late I'd say).

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (11 months ago)

If you honestly think that a review with 50 comments and a preview with 700 comments are equally likely to have the most page views between the two, you are completely delusional. More likely is that you just don't understand correlation very well.

2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (11 months ago)

Barney makes a good point. A doorstop from Nikon will generate 10 times more comments than an unusual or outstanding camera from a small fry like Ricoh.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (11 months ago)

Nikon Coolpix AW110 Review: 77 comments
Ricoh GR Review: 214 comments
Panasonic GX7 First Impressions Review: 702 comments (and counting)

Want to try again?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 29 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (11 months ago)

Mikhail - please stop it.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (11 months ago)

Can you be more specific? What I've done here is to refute people's factually inaccurate statements, is that not allowed? Or if I have myself said anything inaccurate in this chain of replies, please explain that as well. Thank you.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 123
12