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Design and Key Features

Unlike some of its peers, which have - shall we say - rather unique designs, the Olympus Tough TG-2 is about as plain old rectangular as a camera can get. The only protrusions are the 'hump' on the top for the GPS receiver, and the large metal strap mount on one side. The camera lives up to the 'Tough' name that's emblazoned on its front plate, with a body made almost completely of metal. The TG-2 is available in black and and red colors, and those prone to losing their cameras may want to choose the latter, which is a lot more visible.

The TG-2 fits well in the hand, though the grip is small and a bit slippery. The rear controls are cluttered, making it very easy to accidentally press a button or rotate the mode dial, especially in wet or cold conditions. The zoom controller is also on the small side.

The TG-2 is one of the most rugged cameras on the market. It can go up to 15 meters (50 feet) underwater, can be dropped from 2.1 meters (7 feet), and can be crushed with up to 100 kg (220 lb) of force. It's also freezeproof to -10C (+14). If you want to take the camera even deeper underwater, Olympus's PT-053 housing supports depths of up to 45 meters (148 feet).

Naturally, you don't want water collecting on the lens when you're out in the elements. Olympus put a water-repellent coating on the TG-2's lens to prevent that, and in our testing water rolled right off the lens in both controlled and real-world use.

A neat trick that many Olympus Tough cameras can do is Tap Control. This feature comes in handy when you're wearing ski gloves, for example. Tapping twice on the left or right side of the body opens the shortcut menu, and you can then tap on the top or bottom to navigate through the menu (using left and right taps to select an option), with a double-tap on the screen confirming your selection. Tapping twice on the top of the TG-2 enters playback mode, and you can navigate through photos by tapping left or right.

As with all underwater cameras, all of the doors have gaskets to keep out moisture and dust. Olympus makes it pretty difficult to accidentally open a door, with dual locking systems for both the battery/memory card and I/O port compartments.

It's worth mentioning that during our shooting, the TG-2 was the only camera with which we had issues with condensation. We cleaned and checked the seals in an indoor, air conditioned environment. When the camera went into the ocean, the inside of the lens was totally fogged up for about half an hour, before finally clearing. While we don't know how it got there, clearly some moisture had entered the camera. We should note too, that we only had this problem once.

Like its predecessor, the TG-2 has a 3-inch, 610k-dot OLED display, with brilliant color and a wide viewing angle. Here you can see the TG-2's LED illuminator and built-in flash. The flash has a range of up to 7.9 meters, but that's at ISO 1600.

While the TG-2's OLED display looks beautiful indoors, outdoor performance was lacking. It's nearly impossible to use in bright light, even with brightness cranked to the maximum setting. It was also very difficult to use when snorkeling. On a brighter note (no pun intended), images on the TG-2's display are easy to see in low light.

The LED illuminator on the TG-2 is normally used as focusing aid in low light situations. You can also turn it on while shooting stills, which brightens the scene (especially when your subject is close). The LED lamp can also be used when the camera is turned off. Hold down the Info button for a few seconds, and the TG-2 becomes a very expensive flashlight.

While the built-in flash looks the same as every other camera, it has one trick up its sleeve. The flash can be used to wirelessly control an external flash - something that even some high-end compact cameras can't do. The TG-2 can work with Olympus' own RC wireless flash system, which transmits exposure information to the external flash (Olympus or Panasonic-branded). If you're using a third party flash, then it becomes a 'dumb slave' system, where the built-in flash simply triggers the external unit.

It's worth noting that the TG-2's flash is quite weak. Olympus quotes a maximum range of 7.9 meters at wide-angle and 3.1 m at telephoto, but that's at ISO 1600, which is a sensitivity that's best avoided. At the more reasonable sensitivity of ISO 400, the range is just 2 meters at wide-angle and 0.8 meters at telephoto, which isn't far. That's not to say that other compact cameras will be a lot better, but it's something to keep in mind if you take a lot of flash photos.

The TG-2's main menu is packed with options, and Olympus smartly added descriptions of each of them at the bottom of the screen. The Function menu is your shortcut menu, and allows you to quickly adjust white balance, ISO, the self-timer, and more.

Shooting Modes

As we'd expect from a a consumer-level compact in 2013, the Olympus TG-2 has an 'intelligent' Auto mode, where the camera selects the correct scene mode for the situation. If you want to select scene modes yourself, there are plenty to choose from. There are four scene modes dedicated to underwater photography: snapshot, wide 1/2, and macro.

The TG-2 also has Magic filters (variants of the Art filters that can be found in its higher-end cameras), which lets you compose photos with special effects such as fish-eye, pop art, reflection, 'punk', and miniature.

The pin hole feature, one of our favorites from Olympus PEN cameras, adds vignetting to an image. If you want your photos to look like an iPod advertisement from five years ago, here's the 'punk' filter.

One of the nice features on the TG-2 is an aperture priority mode - something that's unusual on compact cameras. At wide-angle, you can select from F2.0, F2.8, and F8. At telephoto, your choices are F4.9, F6.3, and F18. Before you get too excited, though, the actual aperture of the lens is fixed at F2. Confused? Well, like many compact cameras, the TG-2 'fakes' its smaller apertures with the use of filters, which basically cut out light equivalent to shooting at smaller aperture settings. This is not a bad thing at all, since shooting at genuinely smaller apertures would result in lower sharpness due to diffraction.

Other manual controls include custom white balance and exposure compensation. You can also save your favorite settings to two spots on the mode dial.

As mentioned above, the TG-2 has four scene modes for underwater shooting, plus an underwater white balance mode. Unlike most of the underwater cameras we've tested, there isn't a bluish color cast in our photos, which earns the TG-2 some points.

The camera has a built-in manometer, which tells you both depth and altitude. While we didn't take the camera more than about 1.5 meters under the water, it was pretty accurate in upcountry Maui.

Panorama shooting

The TG-2 has three different ways of taking three-shot panoramic images. The first (auto) has you pan to one side or the other, and align a 'pointer' with a 'target' on the OLED display. The second option (manual) is what we might call the 'classic' approach, and requires the user to line up the edge of the frame with the next one. For both of these modes, the camera will be locked up for upwards of thirty seconds while the photos are stitched together. The final panorama method is similar to the last, except that three separate images are saved, for later stitching on your computer (the bundled Olympus Viewer software can do it, as can Photoshop and many other editing suites).

Both the auto and manual panorama modes produced satisfying results in our testing.

GPS

The Olympus TG-2 has one of the more fully-featured GPS setups on the market. It'll record your location, your altitude or depth, direction (thanks to an e-Compass) and nearby landmarks. It can also track your path as you travel (at the expense of battery life, since the camera turns on every few minutes), which you can import into Google Earth. It also has a cool landmark locater, which is pictured below, and can display your location on a very zoomed-out map.

There are quite a few options in the GPS menu (above left), including automatic time adjustment, tracking/logging, and landmark tagging.

In playback mode you'll see your location and the landmark that the camera thought you were near (above right). If you keep pressing the zoom out button, you'll see your very-approximate location on a map (lower right).

While landmark tagging is a nice idea in practice, in reality the camera often picks the wrong place (its small database doesn't help matters). While the TG-2 lets you change the landmark associated with a photo, you can't just remove it entirely if there's no match.

One neat trick the TG-2 can do is show a landmark locater. Select the landmark (which is Seattle's Space Needle in this case) and the camera will point you in the right direction (literally).

This screen also display location, barometric pressure, altitude, and the current date and time.

With GPS Assist data (which is loaded using bundled software), the TG-2 was able to figure out that it was on the roof of the DPReview headquarters in a very impressive 15 seconds. However, as with all cameras with built-in GPS, it struggled when in the big city. As you'd expect, the GPS doesn't work underwater, but at least the built-in manometer (pressure meter) will tell you how deep you are.

Movies

The Tough TG-2 can record 1080p video at 30 frames/second for up to 24 minutes, which is when the camera hits its 4GB file size limit. There are also 720p and VGA options available, with the former having a 29 minute time limit. Sound is recorded in stereo, and you can adjust the mic level (with low or normal settings). A wind filter is also available, though in practice it wasn't very effective.

The TG-2 can also record high speed video at 60 or 120 fps, though the resolution drops to 640 x 480 and 320 x 240. When played back at normal speed, everything appears to move in slow motion.

You'll find sample videos on the following page.

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Comments

Total comments: 105
Ceahym
By Ceahym (1 week ago)

I recently got a Sealife SL961 underwater digital pro strobe to try out with the TG-2, and it seems to be synching up all right. I found the manual wasn't particularly clear on what settings to chose though. What eventually worked for me was the following:
1. TG-2 set-up menu --> accessory settings -->remote flash
2. TG-2 flash option "fill in"
3. SL961 preflash setting "2"
4. SL961 auto bright "1"

0 upvotes
Snehobiely
By Snehobiely (2 weeks ago)

Hello,
i want to buy this camera, but i'm a little concern about visibility of display in direct sunlight. Could you please tell me how bad is it? Is it only bad visibility and usable, or really not usable? I need to buy a cammera really quick, becouse of a trip, so if you can, please respond quick. Thank you very much!

0 upvotes
kayoneex
By kayoneex (1 month ago)

This camera is full of lies, water easily can get inside this unit within in just 2 meters below the water, at first I thought that I just got a bad batch, but a month after a friend of mine with the same unit also experience the same thing, just a waste of money.

0 upvotes
dannormal
By dannormal (5 months ago)

Why do all you reviewers not tell the truth. That is, you cannot see the LCD screen when in sunlight. This simple truth that the reviewers are well aware of makes these rugged cameras a dismal failure. Spew out all the specs and image quality blah blah blah but ignore thw fact that not only does the user have to point and hope, they also can not change any settings because they cant read the screen in daylight. I own a brand new Olympus TG2 and it is unusable because of this

1 upvote
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (5 months ago)

Let's see whether or not we 'told the truth' about this. Here are some direct quotes from the review talking about the screen:

"While the TG-2's OLED display looks beautiful indoors, outdoor performance was lacking. It's nearly impossible to use in bright light, even with brightness cranked to the maximum setting. It was also very difficult to use when snorkeling."

"What we don't like: •Display very difficult to see outdoors and underwater"

"This display looks great indoors, with 610k dots, vivid colors, and a wide viewing angle. However, once outdoors (or underwater), visibility is very poor, even with the brightness turned all the way up. Not exactly what you'd want on a camera made to be out in the elements."

"Downsides ... include ... difficulty seeing the display outdoors."

1 upvote
dannormal
By dannormal (5 months ago)

Okay, you have got me right between the eyes, I apologise. I have read many many reviews from "respected" places.I think I lumped them all together. I honestly donot remember reading the above but I think my argument stands up.BUT NOT FOR YOU.
After buying the camera, my young daughter went on a school overseas trip to New Zealand and came back utterly dissapointed.
I believe it is so unusable these companies should be found in breach of some law because they are marketing a product that does not do what they advertise or imply.
I also believe reviews should make this clear in the strongest possible manner.
Once again I would like to apologise. I would ponder though how the camera recieved a Silver award.
Thankyou for responding, you have won a supporter and my trust.
I would still maintain this though. I, and my family cannot use this camera in sunny daylight. I will contend that reviews should state. "It is unusable in bright daylight" Donot buy it unless you try it first.

0 upvotes
Kawika Nui
By Kawika Nui (5 months ago)

dannormal:

There are many people who agree about the total absurdity of relying on a screen (rather than a VF) to try to take pictures. But there seems to be no solution, as the manufacturers persist in making them. There are even interchangeable lens camera that lack VFs (many of the NEX series; many Olympus cameras, the Nikon 1AW1, etc.). I have had to pass on otherwise good cameras due to this "point and guess" feature.

One problem is that many users claim that they have no trouble seeing the screen, no matter what the conditions. They claim that it's a matter of good or bad eyesight. I personally think this is rubbish. But it's what we're stuck with.

I would love to see review sites begin by listing main features *lacking* in a camera being reviewed. Sort of an advance warning. My list would include VF, 60p video, RAW, burst of at least 5fps, burst depth sufficient for at least 4 seconds at whatever rate. Many reviewers act as if these features don't matter.

0 upvotes
papa natas
By papa natas (3 months ago)

The TG2 was ok.
I own one and I'm happy with the results.
What your young daughter wanted was an Iphone that will make her look hip & cool, instead of a...camera.
Remember the day when WHAT you needed was roller blades or a roller board instead of a...stupid bicycle?

1 upvote
Kawika Nui
By Kawika Nui (1 month ago)

papanatas seems to be a very appropriate handle. Why indulge in snarky mind-reading? Evidently both the OP and his daughter have higher standards.
I also had the TG2 and found it lacking in many areas, including very poor IQ both in and out of water, erratic AF, and poor LCD visibility (or lack thereof). My Canon D10 had much better IQ, and for me the screen was easier to see in comparable conditions. The TG2 went back.

0 upvotes
jrosen
By jrosen (9 months ago)

is there a shutter priority mode for the olympus tg2?

0 upvotes
Bizzarrini
By Bizzarrini (11 months ago)

Has anyone noticed any optical problems with this camera/lens?
Please see my thread: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52064842

0 upvotes
minederien
By minederien (11 months ago)

rboyd !!! I had the exact same experience than you ! I had this camera for about one week. I bought it because i wanted to take pictures during my vacation in South Carolina so obviously lots of beach pictures. I was able to take approximatively 20 pictures. Never dropped the thing, always had the locks on when i took pictures in water (took 1 ou 2). The day after, the back buttons stopped working. I was able to shoot pictures but no menu, no zoom, none of the back buttons were working. And then things started to get extremely strange, i took off the sd card and took some pictures on the internal memory until i got the message that the internal was full. THEN the back buttons started working again !!! Erased all the pictures from internal memory, back buttons stopped working again. Took pictures until the memory was full again and back buttons started working again. I had fun doing this 3 ou 4 times until i got this camera back to the store and bought a Fuji x20...

1 upvote
lisarock
By lisarock (3 months ago)

Having the same issues with this damn thing now. Just bought it while on vacation in Bermuda when our old (and very reliable) Canon D10 was washed away. Grrrrr. Now I have one missing camera eaten by the sea and one that is going haywire less than 24 hours after being out of the box. I tried filling the internal memory, but with no luck. Any other suggestions from anyone would be wonderful. Trying to get one more day of pics out of this thing before sending it back to Olympus. Maddening.

0 upvotes
Halen
By Halen (11 months ago)

Hi,

Does anyone see Barometer and Altitude readings being displayed? When I was in outside, the GPS data was being displayed within a minute, but no Barometer and Altitude readings even after couple of hours.

0 upvotes
rboyd
By rboyd (11 months ago)

I will amend my last post below to include this important information. My camera has since returned and was done fast and efficiently. The whole process took about three weeks and all the repairs were covered by the standard manufacture warranty and I only paid the cost of shipping to the Olympus repair facility. Nothing was argued and nothing was blamed on me. I do wonder though now if was not the fault of the Olympus Silicone case i was using that increased my chances of having water damage done to the camera... Overall I was very upset that this camera broke. But the camera was covered and it was fixed. The main board and back rubber middle was replaced. Because water came in from the back of the camera and not one of the doors I figure that the new TG-2 has been beefed up to prevent this as the two cameras look the same but are very different. This is my only Olympus product but I would buy more of there products in the future. THANK YOU OLYMPUS! I really like the picture quality.

0 upvotes
rboyd
By rboyd (Jul 16, 2013)

I'm really disappointed in my TG-1. I just mailed it out to El Paso, TX this afternoon for warranty repair. I'm completely bummed... Summer is short in Minnesota and will not have my camera for use for my summer fun activities I purchased it for. I have only used it a few times and was on vacation with my family in San Diego when the back buttons stopped working. I have sent a letter via certified mail to explain my frustrations with Olympus and this model... I'm not the first customer to take their camera to the beach and then realize that the back buttons no longer work. No menus... no videos... nothing. I think this is a great camera, just don't get it wet, and make sure you have a backup camera for when this one falls apart or stops working.

0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Jul 6, 2013)

I just repaired my little brothers' Stylus "Tough" 3000. Rear button design/construction was terribly flimsy. The zoom buttons were the worst, and that's what broke. They were held in place by an S-shaped plastic spring a fraction of a millimeter thick. This spring was both a locator and a return spring.

In other words, pictures something that has to swing back and forth like a car suspension. Now picture it supported by one spring and that's all. And it's positioned so that the spring twists back and forth with every press of the button. Fatigue design right in, so it fails like a paper clip bent too many times.

Now, I realize this this is a cheaper model, but still...it could be designed to be more durable with the amount and type of materials. See: goo [dot] gl/5Tefe

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 6, 2013)

Um, and the TG2 I've handled seems well enough made. Not much different than my waterproof Pentax W30.

Are people reporting build quality problems with Olympus tough cameras, say in the Amazon comments section?

1 upvote
Pierrrrrrre
By Pierrrrrrre (Jul 7, 2013)

Well yesterday the Mode selector dial fell off. I mean, on this picture: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympus-tg2/images/side-by-side.jpg it's the dial with A, MAGIC, C1, C2, etc.

After only two days of use (and not tough testing at all!), I am a bit surprised... Gonna take it to the shop later on to see if this can be fixed.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 7, 2013)

P-

Sorry to read about your troubles, at least that's the right model.

Are people reporting similar problems with the TG1 (nearly the same body from last year) at Amazon?

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Pierrrrrrre
By Pierrrrrrre (Jul 4, 2013)

I got it just before this review was made, and I'm pleased with it!

I think there might have a mistake in the review, though:

"The TG-2 can also record high speed video at 60 or 120 fps, though the resolution drops to 640 x 480 and 320 x 240. When played back at normal speed, everything appears to move in slow motion."

But in the documentation of the camera, it is 120 fps in 640x480, and 240 fps in 320x240.

Although 320x240 is a very small resolution, the effect is really nice, especially with water drops :)

0 upvotes
urix
By urix (Jul 3, 2013)

When I try to download original movie samples I get a message that an access denied. How can I get them?

0 upvotes
Sirandar
By Sirandar (Jul 2, 2013)

For a rugged camera the LCD seems terribly exposed with no cover. One scrape against a rock and the rugged camera would be near unusable ...

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 2, 2013)

Um it's like almost all small "tough" cameras.

And then, just get a screen protector--it's one of the first things people buying new digital cameras are encouraged to do.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 2, 2013)

A scratched monitor does not make any camera unusable, by far. It's only for cadring, anyway. A scratch or three does not affect anything important (except maybe reselling as used).
And if the camera was used as intended in outdoors circumstances, it will gather scratches, no way around it.

2 upvotes
calmwaters
By calmwaters (Jul 4, 2013)

Where in your head did you ever think a scratch on the glass would make a camera unusable? Also, it is not a LCD it is an OLED screen.

1 upvote
techmine
By techmine (Jul 1, 2013)

somehow I always felt that Olympus PnS shots are very good in color/contrast/sharpness. I never owned one but compared them with my Nikons and Canons. Always up a notch. Apart from extremely low light photo samples, the daylight shots are great. Hikers will enjoy this cam IMHO...

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 1, 2013)

This is plenty good for a jpeg only camera, I've tested it and PhotographyBlog posted jpegs months ago.

(I know nothing about the video capacities and qualities.)

0 upvotes
ArcaSwiss
By ArcaSwiss (Jun 30, 2013)

Mushy photos = Silver Award ? That's weird

0 upvotes
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (Jul 1, 2013)

The camera exists to survive falls, or go under water, and continue to work. It also tells you where, how deep, or high you were. It also starts up fast and has rapid AF. Yet you would measure it as a studio DSLR?

1 upvote
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Jul 1, 2013)

In other words, it does everything except produce sharp pictures. I guess that's why it missed getting the gold award.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 1, 2013)

AbrasiveReducer:

The 200 ASA through 800 ASA jpegs posted at PhotographyBlog are plenty sharp.

I have some ISO 1600 pictures that I shot in store, and they're plenty sharp for that kind jpeg only small camera set at high ISOs.

So guessing from low the ASA PhotograpyBlog jpegs, at least one shot at F2.0, this camera has a plenty sharp lens.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Jul 1, 2013)

Olympus has always made great, small cameras and lenses so I wouldn't be surprised if this camera has outstanding quality. But then, the review is misleading, except for the award.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 1, 2013)

AbrasiveReducer:

Then don't pay attention to the DPReview's conclusions regarding sharpness and look at PhotograpyBlog's jpegs from months ago. (None shot underwater--just the street and bookcase scenes they always use.)

0 upvotes
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jun 30, 2013)

Dpreview staff
this is not a comparison review. no same scene shot with different camera
only studio shot which for unknown reason TG-2 is not too good contradicting my real world use

in studio shot WG-3 is best

1 upvote
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jun 30, 2013)

Comparative review is coming after all six cameras get full reviews.

2 upvotes
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jul 1, 2013)

thanks for the reply

0 upvotes
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jun 30, 2013)

check out this comparison page

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympus-tg2/4

To my surprise the camera with the most detail is Pentax WG-3

I have TG-2 and is generally happy with it

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jun 30, 2013)

100 shots at f5.4 fps, wow. But I did not get about 15 fps and 60 fps: "If you don't mind lowering the resolution to 3 megapixels, you can shoot at 15 or 60 frames/second, which produces high-speed and slow-motion videos (respectively) when played back at normal speed."

Does it produce VIDEO of those fps (and then is it 3 MP video, meaning higher resolution than FullHD), or does it produce series of shots that you can CONVERT to video (and then what software do you use to convert, is it included or is it in camera)?

And at 15 and 60 fps - what shutter speed does it use - depending on that you can either freeze motion or get smooth video.

0 upvotes
Scanlon
By Scanlon (Jun 30, 2013)

I bought this camera before a snorkeling trip to the Caribbean, thinking that, with the bright lens, it would deliver sharp images. I was wrong, and fortunately, I realized that before I went and returned it, for the Canon G15, which is not an underwater camera and more expensive, for sure, but which produced incredible images throughout our trip, almost on a par with my DSLR. Glad I made the change. Having said this, for years I had the Olympus 850 SW, which was an underwater camera. While I never had the opportunity to use it underwater, it did turn out very sharp images, Unfortunately, it was dropped and the LCD screen broke, necessitating the search for a new camera (for my wife). Needless to say, I was shocked at how soft the images from the TG-2 were.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jun 30, 2013)

Were you shooting raw with the Canon G15?

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jun 30, 2013)

For most people not used to underwater photography, almost every camera might appear as producing soft(er) images. But many times it comes from the ambiental reasons, and not from the camera deficiences.
Water is very different photographing medium from the air. It changes the light very much depending on the surface state, refraction level, suspended matter (visible by eye or not), even temperature and density differences - such as freshwater spring in saltwater, etc. It requires a bit getting used to.
Otherwise, many people in water tend to take photos rather optimistically as regards shooting distance (especially with flash).
Excepting w/a photos, rarely will one be able to shoot objects further than 2 meters away. Also, that's why u/w macros usually come out the best.
There are strong differences in u/w vs. dry land photography, it should be studied prior to shooting photos, so it pays to look it up on the net. This will add reality to expectations, and quality to pictures.

3 upvotes
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jun 30, 2013)

I have TG-2 and disagree with what you said
for land photo, the camera has very decent sharpness for any point and shoot camera and exceptional for a waterproof camera

Your comment is misleading for people who might be interested in this camera

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
swpars
By swpars (Jul 1, 2013)

I purchased a TG-2 recently and am very pleased with the sharpness of its images. It's not up to the level of my Nikkor primes but it's very good for a P&S camera, especially a waterproof one.

0 upvotes
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (Jul 1, 2013)

You compare underwater shots against landlubber shots with other cameras. Not very fair or meaningful. Even Caribbean waters have silt or algae, and light is good only at mid-day. The waters absorbe red wavelengths quickly and muddle images at distances over 10' or so.

0 upvotes
Jonathan Lee
By Jonathan Lee (Jun 30, 2013)

hum, is there underwater white balance on the cam?

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jun 30, 2013)

Yes

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jun 30, 2013)

For what it's worth, UW WB on any underwater camera is not very important. We use daylight to see an underwater scenery, and so does the camera. Thus, what we see is what the camera sees, and vice versa.
The (sun)light filtering through the water layer varies with water depth, but also water chemistry, surface state (e.g., calm, wavy, insolation angle / time of the day) and other things, such as quantity and sort of suspended matter in the water. There are factors like added diving depth to the object distance, etc.
We do not know for which kind of water the pre-programmed UW WB was intended. There is a difference between sea(s) waters and also lake(s), rivers and creeks which is quite wide in variety. Thus, there is no such thing as an universal "WB for water".
On the other hand, whether one may or may not like the bluish or greenish hues which will appear on the photos, is a matter of taste. But it is usually easier to post-process the Daylight WB-shot pics than UW WB-shot images.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
schaki
By schaki (Jun 29, 2013)

The Powershot D20 may have a slow lens but at least preserves fine-details better due to low NR. How hard could it be for Olympus to include NR options or Raw? Guess not so hard..

0 upvotes
Klimt z
By Klimt z (Jun 29, 2013)

If the screen can't be seen underwater or out in the sun and surf or the beach it is useless for the environment most of us want it for. If you are out in the surf it is very frustrating to see a reflection of yourself in the screen. I tried several. The Fuji had a great screen but the IQ was terrible. Frankly, I was quite irritated because reviewers never mentioned the one thing that made them useless. Also irritated because this one looks like a cool camera rendered useless because the designers never got it out of the lab or they would never have let it happen.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jun 30, 2013)

You might like to add some sort of soft material shade around the upper and side rims of the monitor, such as thin Neoprene supported with wire. It can be fastened to the tripod connecting point. It will not help much with sheer image quality, but it might help you to see what you frame (which is the main purpose of the camera monitor anyway).
DIY has always been an important source of photography aids. There is no use waiting until the manufacturers think of something, as they, more often than not, appear to "listen to some other voices". :)

0 upvotes
Henry Falkner
By Henry Falkner (Jun 29, 2013)

Maybe a COMPARISON of water-resistant cameras might have put the optical observations into perspective. I understand that underwater you loose light very rapidly, hence the need for noise reduction. - But what took you so long to do the review? The camera has been on the shelves for months!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (Jul 1, 2013)

Cold weather and water in Seattle and high cost of travel to Hawaii.

Or would a bathtub test suffice?

0 upvotes
Waterengineer
By Waterengineer (Jun 29, 2013)

I was foolishly holding out hope for this camera. With the "slightly soft imagest, clipped highlights, chroma aberration," no thanks.

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Jun 29, 2013)

"Images slightly soft, with mushy details
Tends to clip highlights; chromatic aberrations can be strong at times"

How is that good inage quality?

2 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jun 29, 2013)

Good for its class. All of these compact cameras do that to some degree.

3 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jun 29, 2013)

And raw recording could make this camera's image quality outstanding, for it's class.

Comment edited 54 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Jun 30, 2013)

If "slightly soft and mushy" qualifies for an award, it might make sense to put it in context. "Ok, it's not great, but it's a little better than camera A and a little worse than camera B". Just seems odd that something like image quality does not have to be outstanding to get an award.

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jun 30, 2013)

It is hard to have anything outstanding in this class. But don't forget, when D20 etc will have unusable ISO 3200, this one will have quite useable ISO 800. None of them is made for pixel peepers, and even 12 MP is excessive for the sensor like this and HD screens.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jun 30, 2013)

Comparing underwater cameras in quality with dry-land cameras will always be confusing, as the ambients differ too much. It is especially true if you review amphibious cameras. These are supposed to operate in both media, and it has its limitations.
True underwater optics must be corrected for water. These corrections (like dome ports or other non-flat solutions) will then not work outside. And if you have zoom lenses which range from wide-angle to short tele, there is no solution other than using flat port, which is not equally good at all focal lengths.
That's why Nikonos (mark II through V) had a choice of five lenses. Beside its dry-land-only 28mm, there were additional 28mm and 15mm for exclusive underwater use.
The (prime) 35mm and also 80mm lens had flat ports, and were usable on both sides of the surface. The UW 28mm had a concave front element, and 15mm UW had a dome.
There is a way to make high quality UW cameras... but it seems the will to do so sadly lacks...

2 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Jun 30, 2013)

Can't believe never really followed on that concept in the digital era, underwater housings non-withstanding. I remember Olympus having UW housings right from the get-go with the C-XOXO series.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 1, 2013)

Gesture:

For what it's worth you have to remember that Olympus gave up making cameras, film and any digital it had out, in about 2001. Then a few years later they reentered the camera market.

Also most housings for say the Canon G series aren't made by Canon. (And Canon's the odd man it that it appears to also make some housing still.)

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Jun 29, 2013)

Plus, this is the one segment that traditional cameras manufacturers can prosper in, so, yes, why not upscale the models. Even now, I doubt many will use their iPhone seaside or in water.

1 upvote
steelduck
By steelduck (Jun 29, 2013)

I bought this camera a few months ago when it came available. I generally like it a lot for the "beach camera" purpose. The only dislikes are the GPS that sucks battery big time. It is empty in one day even when the camera is off, as it keeps on tracking when you shut it down to get a faster fix when you put it on again. The other dislike is the red ring around the lense. It keeps on dropping off the camera. I have already lost one of them (it can with two).

0 upvotes
Rod McD
By Rod McD (Jun 29, 2013)

1. Why is it that every one the manufacturers of these rugged cameras assume that the people who need them aren't interested in higher IQ? Outdoor photographers (hikers, climbers, cavers, kayakers, cyclists, yachties, etc) really value their forays into wild places and the images they bring back. Would somebody kindly offer a more serious camera with a larger sensor. I fully expect it to cost more and weigh more and I would be prepared to pay for the improvement.

2. Why do they all ignore two hundred years of engineering knowledge about seals? The internet is full of leak experiences and failures to honor guarantees. They could use a 1" O-ring on the base of a decent grip and it would be big enough to take an SD card and an appropriately shaped battery. And it would allow them to offer better specs. Just do it.

6 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (Jun 29, 2013)

Because the "serious underwater photographers" are using outstanding cameras with very expensive underwater housings, and not some $499 compact camera.

You just can't have perfection at this price point.

Dpreview understands this, and reviews a Tough camera for exactly what it is, and not as a competitor for a Nikon D4 with an waterproof housing.

4 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jun 29, 2013)

Whoever has an interest in how the proper underwater / all weather camera should be built and protected, should look up and study the Nikonos III model. The ergonomics of the camera were perfect, the sealing and locking system allowed for interchangeable lenses, and the camera was able to stand double the rated pressure depth easily.
The swimming and walking body positions require different layout of the camera control elements - and Nik III had it solved.
Also, never mind that it was not "shirt-pocketable" - it fitted the wind jacket pocket easily.
Long time ago I thought that model III or V would be replicated in digital version as a matter of pure logic, but to this day nobody attempted that (or maybe someone blocked the idea?).
In the meantime, the current line of amphibious cameras is far inferior in every sense, with "betterings" every two years or so... while the same market, once so happy with Nikonos, is still out there, waiting...
Is there such a thing as "design crime"?

4 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Jun 29, 2013)

Yes. Interesting that Nikon was once a pioneer with the Nikonos cameras, but never seemed to follow it up in the digital age?

Comment edited 58 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Rod McD
By Rod McD (Jun 30, 2013)

To Marty4650......I know full well that these compacts don't attempt to emulate a D4 in a housing (that probably cost as much as the D4). Your response suggests that there is no possibility of an engineering option in-between, which is completely false. Oldarrow has mentioned the Nikonos. Yes a modern day equivalent would probably be $2K, but it would be a whole lot better than these compacts and, to many users, a whole lot better than a black mastodon in an UW housing. Try kayaking with one of those stuffed into your life jacket. Fujifilm also developed a series of inexpensive water resistant heavy duty cameras in the film era that used proper O-rings for the battery compartments. It can be done.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (Jun 29, 2013)

Can we burry this phrase. It's overused, apologetic, meaningless and a bit silly:

"Photo quality isn't fantastic on the TG-2, but it's more than good enough for purpose and target audience. "

Olympus claims that "the Olympus TG-2 iHS was designed with the serious photographer in mind. ". If the target audience is the serious photographer, I would think IQ would be a concern.

12 upvotes
Anepo
By Anepo (Jun 29, 2013)

I agree if Olympus claims it to be designed with the serious photographer in mind they should review it that way and to be honest it would be DEMOLISHED in the review then because of how stupid Olympus were to say that.

1 upvote
BorisK1
By BorisK1 (Jun 29, 2013)

A serious photographer uses the camera that's appropriate for the assignment. If the conditions force the use of a rugged camera, the photographer will work with what he has.
A waterproof camera cannot have an extending lens, which is probably the biggest limitation in its optical design.

1 upvote
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (Jul 1, 2013)

So why have an extending lens at all? How useful is telephoto under water, especially as the lenses get gosh awful slow when extended.

I've had tons of fun with a simple disposable fixed focal length waterproof film camera. Why not a decent fixed focal length UW camera? I'd think such a camera would be popular with the camera crowd. Put a M43 sensor with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens in reasonably sized body and you'd have a nice little snorkeling gem.

Or you could put a telephoto lens in a fixed body. Casio did it with the 5X EX-P505 and I loved that little camera. Enclosing the telphoto lens makes it a favorite to hand over to the kids.

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2005/01/31/casioexp505

2 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 2, 2013)

I think what BorisK1 meant would be a lens that extends (changes its volume) underwater. Any variable-volume casing which contains gas is very complicated to build, although it is technically possible. A variable-volume casing would work well in a liquid-filled system, or if the camera is connected to its own dynamic pressure-compensation gas source.
You could actually have much better results with interchangeable lenses, each covering a limited range which would not be affected by the port form. Thus, there could be, say, 15-28mm zooms behind a dome port, and 35-100mm zoom with flat-glass port, each in their fixed-volume housing. The latter could be used on dry land as well.
If someone would decide to replicate a Nikonos system, I expect they'd offer some new zoom lenses too. Meantime, the existing fixed-focus Nikonos range would still be as good as always.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
viktoriskra
By viktoriskra (Jun 29, 2013)

These waterproof camera tests are being published quite '5 to 12', don't you think? Since the majority of us are crammed in the same hemisphere, I would suggest to finish these in the next week or so.

Other than that, great work, DPR team!

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jun 29, 2013)

We're in Seattle - summer's only just started ;)

2 upvotes
Shamael
By Shamael (Jun 29, 2013)

Summer in Seattle, hmmmmmh, ok, let's call it summer, Barney. Don't mind, i live at 10 degrees north of the equator.

1 upvote
arhmatic
By arhmatic (Jun 29, 2013)

The Olympus seems to better that other waterproofed cameras, but one thing is not clear to me...

The image quality is what you'd expect from a $150 camera. People say "it's allright, it's waterproofed..." and I agree with that, but... take a little more expensive camera, add $100 worth of waterproofing, maybe $150 --- can't be more than that, and you will end up with a much better camera... Some people would pay for it... I mean, what is the market for this camera? If you can afford a trip to Hawaii for snorkeling, I am sure paying a little more for a camera is not that much of a concern.

4 upvotes
BorisK1
By BorisK1 (Jun 29, 2013)

A half-decent waterproof case won't be under $200. And it will be much larger, because your "slightly more expensive" camera will have a lens that sticks out of the body by at least 2-3 inches.

1 upvote
Maxfield_photo
By Maxfield_photo (Jun 28, 2013)

The graphic designer who created the above image probably should have thought things through a bit more, the last thing you want to see coming out of your underwater camera is air bubbles.

13 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jun 28, 2013)

But... but... you don't want the camera to suffocate...!

12 upvotes
PC Wheeler
By PC Wheeler (Jun 28, 2013)

Must be from the fish inside.

5 upvotes
Optimal Prime
By Optimal Prime (Jun 28, 2013)

Maybe a flatulent fish? Not to mention the scene on the camera screen doesn't seem to match the one if is trying to shoot...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (Jun 28, 2013)

Oh! I've been waiting for this. I really like the Olympus Tough series and with vacation coming up...

Time to upgrade.

1 upvote
BorisK1
By BorisK1 (Jun 28, 2013)

As far as I know, the TG-2 uses an iris type aperture to get to F:2.8, and an ND filter to get to F:8.

1 upvote
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jun 28, 2013)

that ISO 1600 sample is very good for a small sensor

0 upvotes
Ben O Connor
By Ben O Connor (Jun 28, 2013)

Images are so fine. Both in wide angel & closer ones as well. Totally suprisiing.

1 upvote
vapentaxuser
By vapentaxuser (Jun 28, 2013)

The images have nice color and contrast to them.

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jun 28, 2013)

For the camera with so impressive set of features you'd expect someone at Olympus would finally decide to implement a proper water-sealing system at the hatches. These gaskets are simply too sensitive and unreliable. As always, it leaves an impression of purposefully created weak spot, which will never be covered by warranty.
Also, Olympus (and others) could significantly reduce the possibility of water ingress by creating one single access hatch sealed by o-ring, instead of two, sealed with their funny gummy-things.
Third, it is never wise to charge the battery within the sealed casing. Aside of augmenting the explosion force, it heats up the case interior. This may later cause port / monitor fogging.
As to the fogging you mention, the humidity possibly remained from the camera assembly line - no need for additional water leak to create it.
One of the best ways to remove fogging would be to replace the inner air volume with nitrogen. It is not difficult, as any tyre service has it...

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jun 30, 2013)

Are you propose to them to assemble it in pure nitrogen? And for customers do it after each port opening (for SD card or battery charging)? ;)

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jun 30, 2013)

I'm suggesting a possible solution against internal fogging, and not after every opening. For a while, it will remain in there.
It would be quite simple for manufacturers to partition the user-accessible space in a way that will keep the dry gas (nitrogen) in the rest of the camera volume unaffected by opening of contact / battery / memory card ports. If you think of this access as a box with gilded contacts on the service side and several wires on the other, it is not difficult to seal (thermal glue would suffice).
It does not cost worth a mention, and if the camera was then assembled in (or purged with) nitrogen, it would solve a source or two of frustration. Even if a drop or two of water would enter the user-accessible space, that barrier would keep it from going deeper.
From experience: whenever any wet camera is opened, care should be taken that the port is facing downwards, and the cover is opened slowly. That takes care of the drops that might have remained around the seal.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
BPW
By BPW (Jun 30, 2013)

How about no ports at all? Use inductive charging and wireless image transfer. Pentax already has inductive charging.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jun 30, 2013)

Sure, but with the current state of battery technology, it is still safer to charge batteries outside of the sealed casing. If there's an explosion, the casing could make it really dangerous.
It is possible to make a permanently sealed camera with sufficiently large internal memory and wireless data transfer, and maybe organize an outside, (replaceable) batery module screwed into properly sealed contact point.
There are many easy ways to make today's UW cameras better, more depth-resistant, with better range od accessories (as if there's any), but the manufacturers have chosen to do it all "next time".
We are being fed the already existing technology by eyedropper. There are no technical problems in replicating Nikonos in its digital version, articulated monitor and external flash / lighting included, but they will continue to sell us anything as long as there are sufficient buyers of anything.
Next year cameras will go sensational 3" deeper and play MP3 sounds.
That's business. :(

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Albino_BlacMan
By Albino_BlacMan (Jun 28, 2013)

Has DPR reviewed a camera that hasn't gotten at least a silver award in the last 2 years?

Awards lose their meaning a bit when everyone gets them...

4 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jun 28, 2013)

Not every camera gets an award.

2 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jun 28, 2013)

The first waterproof camera in this series got no award: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canon-powershot-d20/

3 upvotes
Absolutic
By Absolutic (Jun 28, 2013)

I only pay attention to gold awards, not to silver awards. By the way, Dpreview, I think it is time to institute platinum awards for absolutely exceptional cameras and lenses (Score 85 and higher)

0 upvotes
Optimal Prime
By Optimal Prime (Jun 28, 2013)

And a Diamond award for scores above 100...?

2 upvotes
MichaelKJ
By MichaelKJ (Jun 29, 2013)

Cameras reviewed so far in 2013 (excluding group reviews)
Gold = 7
Silver = 9
No award = 3
Lake Wobegon effect?

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jun 29, 2013)

First, you'll have to explain what 'Lake Wobegon effect' means.

0 upvotes
Shamael
By Shamael (Jun 29, 2013)

The Lake Wobegon effect, a natural human tendency to overestimate one's capabilities. Lake Wobegon is some kinda fictional invented town in Minesota. You need to see the live show A Prairie Home Companion that you could see in Fitzgerald Theater in St Paul, Min, to understand this. MichaelKJ has stated something he knows and others ignore, what I would classify as a bad idea in this context.

One can never rate any stuff in a correct way for just anyone. We all have different points of view, I like testers writing they think or estimate this or that, what reflects their point of view. But, we all are the creators we read about in the Bible, we create the world to our own image by comparing all we see with our personality, and this ego is composed of all we find in life, the evidence we encounter, on the other side all the crap that is washed in our brain by others, people, News, TV, Obama, Ron Paul, the Pope, the Imam, our doctor, and what ever we find as brainlaundromats on earth.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Shamael
By Shamael (Jun 29, 2013)

It is this diversity of opinions and points of view that makes the world go forward, or retract, by destruction and reconstruction. Creativity is always a question of virginity. You can't create anything on a place where something is, the old has to go first and you create a state of nothingness, a virgin space, be this by demolition or simple barbarian destruction, like wars. Out of that virgin space emerges a new virgin birth. Now, all in life goes that way, and once created, we can modify and improve the created object or being, until it becomes valueless and then it collapses. To replace it, we need to destroy and create something new, but here again, someone creates it to his image and points of view. Market tries here to see what can fit most of us, but never all of us, even if i found that marketing is a place where many famous donkeys, that walk beside of their shoes, move around. But, one needs a lot of things to create a world anyway.

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Jun 29, 2013)

Lots of cameras have gotten nothing. For whatever reason, the Pentax K-01, Nikon 1 V1, and Panasonic GF2 were deemed not worthy of a DPR award.

How a camera with the gorgeous IQ of the K-01 or the unrivaled AF performance / processing of the V1 are considered unworthy when pretty much anything with a lens gets an award is anybody's guess.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jun 30, 2013)

marike6, both cameras had fatal flaws (compared to its peers) which totally overcame their good features you mention. For example, k-01 practically cannot autofocus, LiveView AF of DSLR lenses is unusable, and is too big and heavy compared to its viewfinderless peers (and its IQ is no better then every NEX with the same sensor, BTW). Conversely, V1 is too far behind its peers in image quality, does not take normal flashes, does not have good user interface. These are not marginal features nobody cares about, these are core.

0 upvotes
Scanlon
By Scanlon (Jun 30, 2013)

To HowaboutRaw, I did shoot mostly RAW with the G15, but my wife shot primarily JPEG. Both were excellent. As for my comments regarding the TG-2, I did not have an opportunity to shoot underwater, so I have to recuse myself from commenting on its underwater capabilities, which, I admit, is one of the main draws for this camera. Having said that, I was not looking for a camera that could just perform well underwater. Indeed, I would be using it more on land. Possibly, it was my comparison with DSLR images and those from the four Olympus cameras that I have owned, one of which, as I stated, WAS an underwater camera (the 850 SW) that heavily influenced my opinion. Anyone who does not have that reference point may find this camera to their liking. Just my experience.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 105