Olympus Tough TG5 Review: Waterproof and shockproof Olympus Tough TG-5 Reviewed
- Easy handling
- Extensive range of functions
- Wireless flash control
- Robust housing
- Up to ISO 400 quite good image quality
- Very tight shutter release
- Fiddly opening flaps
- Sensitive to backlighting
The Olympus Tough TG-5 is a camera that forgives the photographer even the most adverse conditions. Up to 15 meters diving depth, frost down to -10 degrees Celsius and a fall from a height of 2.1 meters, the camera can be put away. This makes it an ideal companion for water and winter sports enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to the high-speed quadruple zoom and the TruPic VIII image processor, a rear-illuminated, 12 megapixel CMOS sensor does its job in the camera. This test report shows whether these three components meet the requirements and can provide high image quality.
We have already been able to subject the Olympus Tough TG-5 to a comprehensive test in practice, and with the test software. With the TG-5, Olympus combines sensible modifications with proven technology. The housing is still very robust: it is waterproof to 15 metres diving depth, shockproof to 2.1 metres drop height, break-proof to 100 kg load and frost-proof to -10 °C. New is the double glass lens front glass with anti-fog coating. This combination should result in less fogging, which occurs when changing from a cold to a warm environment with appropriate humidity. The lens also remains at its initial speed of F2.0, which is high for the outdoor camera segment, but deteriorates to F4.9 when zooming from 25 to 100 millimeters. An image stabilizer is also included.
However, Olympus has reduced the resolution of the small 1/2.3″ image sensor with rear exposure from 16 to now 12 megapixels compared to the previous TG-4 model, which in return promises a higher light sensitivity of the correspondingly larger pixels. In addition, the TG-5 can now record videos in 4K resolution (instead of Full HD) at 30 frames per second and Full HD high-speed videos even at 120p and HD videos at 240p. There is one change in operation: the tap control function is no longer required. It allowed certain functions to be operated by tapping on the sides of the housing. Instead, there is now a larger handle, a minimally changed menu and a control wheel on the top of the camera, which should make it easier to use with gloves. The program selector wheel now has nine positions instead of eight.
Also on board are a GPS with electronic compass and pressure gauge as well as an independently activatable tracking or logger function. A new addition is a digital thermometer. In addition to Intelligent Auto, numerous scene modes, the Art Filters and the creative modes P and A (Program and Aperture Priority) are available for shooting, although Aperture Priority allows only three aperture settings (open aperture and one and four steps down). Landscape with portrait, children and candle are new in the scene mode programs, while the art filters Light Tone, Cross Process, Soft Sepia, Key Line, Watercolor, Vintage and Partial Color are new in the art filters. In addition, there are special programs, such as an underwater HDR mode or the Pro Capture mode known from the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, which helps to capture the right moment in unpredictable situations with high shooting rates even before the shutter release button is pressed.
For higher image quality, not only the sensor with its higher light sensitivity for better noise performance at up to ISO 12,800, but also the more powerful TruePic VIII image processor and the ability to select lower JPEG compression. Raw data can be additionally recorded as with the predecessor model. Three bit rates are now selectable in video mode, allowing the videographer to choose between small files and high quality. By the way, manual focusing is also possible, for which the TG-5 now offers a peaking function as an adjustment aid in addition to the focus magnifier.
On the rear display, which has a diagonal of 7.6 centimetres and a somewhat meagre 460,000 pixels, a grid can now be shown that not only helps with alignment (a digital spirit level is also available), but also with the golden ratio. For macro photographers, the camera offers four special modes with shooting distances of 30 to one centimetre, some of which, however, use the digital zoom for a higher magnification. With the help of Focus-Stacking the focus range can be extended, the Focus-Bracketing function takes a focus bracketing series shot from which the image with the appropriate focus can be selected or which can also be used for Focus-Stacking on a PC with the appropriate software.
Thanks to WLAN, the images can be transmitted wirelessly to mobile devices. With the corresponding app (OI.Share) for Android and iOS, the TG-5 can also be remotely triggered, with or without live image transmission. The TG-5 is also compatible with the App OI.Track. A new feature is the transmission of a live image via the Micro HDMI connection. The replaceable lithium-ion battery, which by the way should be sufficient for a stately 380 pictures according to CIPA standard, can be charged via micro-USB cable, a corresponding mains adapter is included with the camera. Those who want to charge an exchangeable battery externally have to buy a respective charging cradle.
As accessories, we have for example the macro light LG-1, the macro flash diffuser FD-1, the fisheye converter FCON-T01, the teleconverter TCON-T01 or the underwater housing PT-058 suitable for diving down to 45 meters. To protect the camera, Olympus offers the CSCH-121 neoprene bag and the CSCH-126 silicone bag. The Sport Holder CSCH-121 is designed for attaching the camera during mountaineering or other action-packed sports. The snap hook allows the attachment for example to a backpack, the spiral cable should provide maximum flexibility. In addition, the CSCH-107 is a hard case with a snap hook. The floating hand strap CHS-09 prevents the camera from sinking and can be easily recognized in the water thanks to the red signal colour.
Ergonomics and Workmanship
The design of the camera makes it clear that it can be exposed to the elements. The housing of the Tough TG-5 weighs 250 grams more than a small compact camera when ready for operation. This is mainly due to the robust and well processed case, the slightly offset GPS antenna and the trigger on the top of the case. A ring around the lens serves as a cover for a bayonet on which accessories can be mounted. Thanks to the waterproofness of the camera to 15 meters diving depth, the camera is waterproof for underwater scene depiction. The disadvantage is that Olympus has fitted the two existing flaps on the housing with a locking switch for the opening mechanism. Unfortunately, this lock switch is quite small, so that you should have fingernails, so that it is easier to open or close it.
The controls on the back of the camera are well proportioned, unless the camera is to be operated with gloves, in which case the controls are too small and operation becomes fiddly. The tripod thread is made of plastic and is slightly offset to the optical axis of the camera. The operating concept provides for three levels. The first level is the mode dial, on which the desired operating mode is selected. On the second operating level, depending on the selected operating mode, image parameters such as resolution, image format, ISO sensitivity and much more can be set. To let you know which parameters you are currently changing in the quick menu, they are displayed on the right-hand side of the monitor and can be selected with the directional buttons. Use the “right” and “left” directional buttons to select the desired setting, which is displayed at the bottom of the monitor, and confirm with the middle “OK” button. The menu as the third and deepest operating level is in most cases only required for basic settings and for activating special functions. Rather unusual in this class is the rotary wheel next to the shutter release. This allows quick adjustments. The settings that can be changed with it depend on the operating mode used.
In addition, the TG-5 has a dedicated “video button” that allows you to record video in 1080p without switching the operating mode. However, for 4K video mode, the mode dial must be turned to the video mode. Just as unusual as the upper rotary wheel is the mechanical switch, also located on the upper side of the housing, for activating the GPS module, which can thus be switched on for logging purposes even when the camera is switched off.
The zoom function of the TG-5 covers a range of 4.8 – 18 millimetres, which corresponds to a 35 mm equivalent focal length of 25 to 100 millimetres. The zoom is operated by a ring switch on the shutter release and unfortunately only knows one speed. As in the previous models, the lens does not extend on the TG-5. Thanks to the mounting bayonet covered by the ring, optical converters like the FCON-T01 fisheye converter or the TCON-T01 teleconverter can be mounted. However, this also requires the CLA-T01 mounting ring. In front of the lens itself there is a small glass pane, which has to be cleaned more often due to the missing protective cap or curtain. For the first time, this is a double glazing which, together with the anti-fogging coating, is intended to prevent fogging, which occurs especially when changing from cold to warm environments with the corresponding humidity. An optical image stabilizer (sensor shift) is available as well as an electronic image stabilizer. However, the optical image stabilizer is only used in photo mode and the electronic image stabilizer only in video mode.
A stereo microphone is available as well as a 7.6-centimetre LCD screen with a resolution of only 460,000 pixels and two different grid lines that can be superimposed, a live histogram and a digital two-axis spirit level. The camera has two cover flaps. While the battery compartment and the memory card slot for SDHC or SDXC memory cards are concealed under the larger of the two flaps on the underside of the camera, the micro HDMI and micro USB ports are available for use under the smaller flap on the left side of the housing. Unfortunately, the battery does not have a fuse for the direction in which it must be inserted. Only arrows show at the battery and a little bit hidden in the battery compartment how the battery has to be pushed around. Charging is done via a USB charger supplied. This can also be used as a continuous current connection with the battery inserted.
The focus of the camera is clearly on outdoor and action. So there are four recording programs to choose from.. Other scene modes available include programs for people, landscape, night landscape, movement and indoor shots. In addition, there are special programs for macro photography, which are significantly enhanced by a focus stacking function. The manual focus is interesting, with a focus peaking function with adjustable colors as an adjustment aid. You also do not have to do without a GPS logging function. However, the power consumption of this function should not be underestimated, as it is active even when the camera is turned off. This can be remedied, for example, by a power bank connected via USB to support the power supply. Thanks to the mechanical switch, the GPS function can also be switched on and off quickly and easily to save power. In addition to the GPS function, the TG-5 has a compass, a pressure gauge and a temperature display.
The “Pro Capture” function is designed to help you capture the right moment. To do this, the camera takes pictures before the actual shutter release and writes them to the memory card. The convenient panorama function helps the photographer with a target point and automatic release. The macro mode includes an interesting feature called focus stacking to extend the range of focus in macro shooting. To do this, the camera takes a series of focus shots and computes these images directly with each other so that the final image has an enlarged focus area. If you want to make this calculation in an external software, you can also use only the focus shot series without processing the images in the camera.
On the top of the TG-5, in addition to the trigger, there is also a rotary wheel that simplifies operation and the mechanical switch for the GPS module. [Photo: Olympus]
Somewhat hidden in the deeper menus is the interval function, which can be programmed quite conveniently with start time and shooting distance and allows up to 999 shots. In addition, the photographer can select various image effects and color presets from the side shooting menu. Various color and effect filters are available for creative photography. These filters can also be applied later when recording raw data. In addition, subsequent image reductions, cropping and the e-portrait mode for enhancing portrait shots can be easily done via the camera.
For ambitious photography, only a program and an automatic aperture control are available, the selectable aperture settings are very limited. In the wide-angle range, for example, just F2, F2.8 or F8 can be selected. The program automatic allows exposure correction. The two “Custom” programs can be programmed by the photographer as he wishes. Besides photos, videos can also be created with the Tough TG-5. The highest resolution available is 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) recording at 30 frames per second. The video function has the highest frame rate of 60 frames per second at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The high-speed video function allows up to 120 frames per second in Full HD and 240 frames per second in HD resolution and 480 frames per second at 640 x 360 pixels. The high-speed and 4K recording functions are only available in video mode, which can be set with the program dial. An electronic noise filter can be switched on if wind noise is to be minimized, and the microphone level can be adjusted. The camera also offers a simple editing function for recorded video.
WLAN connectivity, which does not use NFC, allows images to be transferred from the camera to a smart device – provided the Olympus App OI.Share is installed on the device. In addition, the camera can also be operated remotely from the app (see photo tips in the links below). The built-in flash has an expected illumination characteristic with good illumination in the center and illumination decreasing by a maximum of one f-stop towards the edges. Even if the camera does not have a hot shoe, it is able to trigger an external flash via wireless control. In combination with an Olympus or compatible flash unit, the power information is transmitted to the flash unit by light pulse. However, the camera can “only” communicate on one channel and with only one flash group.
In addition to the equipment, the image quality is also one of the important factors of a camera. So, after the TG-5 scores with its well-manufactured case, easy handling and many functions, it only has to show where it stands in terms of image quality. In contrast to the previous model, the TG-5 has a sensor with a resolution of only 12 megapixels, and on the basis of the results of the test software, this seems to have made sense.
The TG-5 achieves a very good resolution value for a 12 megapixel camera. The lens suffers from a reduced resolution in the peripheral areas of the wide angle, which just about allows magnifications up to DIN A4. On the other hand, the edge darkening of the compact quadruple zoom is very low, and the lens shows no distortion. With two pixels, however, chromatic aberration is clearly visible in the wide-angle range. The TG-5 sharpens JPEG data in the default setting, which is clearly visible in “light/dark” transitions where artifacts or double contours occur. This means that the images from the camera can be used immediately without any problems and without the need for image processing. However, if the images are to be post-processed, the sharpening should be reduced or raw data should be used.
The image noise is surprisingly low, so that only from ISO 1.600 onwards, there is a slight brightness noise and colour noise is only low. This is due to the denoising function, which removes the noise but also the details. Up to ISO 400, this is still okay, but from ISO 1.600, the loss of detail is clearly visible in the image. The tonal range, i.e. the maximum number of brightness levels that can be displayed in the saved image, is still okay up to ISO 200. At higher ISO sensitivities, so-called banding effects, i.e. visible jumps in brightness, can occur with smooth color gradients.
The input dynamic range describes the brightness range that can be recorded and implemented. This is very good on the TG-5 up to ISO 200 with eleven aperture stops and good up to ISO 1,600 with ten aperture stops. The tonal value transfer is adjusted in a graduated manner and is very suitable for crisp images. In the default setting, the color reproduction is unfortunately not good and appears visually very bland, but here, too, the photographer can meet his personal color taste by adjusting the color setting. The actual colour depth, i.e. the number of colors that can actually be differentiated, is good with the TG-5 up to high ISO settings.
The TG-5 is very sensitive in backlight situations. This is particularly noticeable when a dark subject is to be photographed with side or back light. In addition, in certain light situations a bright round dot appears in the middle of the image. This cannot be eliminated even with an improvised lens hood. The assumption is that the two plane-parallel glass plates in front of the lens are responsible for this problem.
The shutter release of the camera is quite fixed and so you have to get close to the two steps of the shutter release. Once this is done, the camera achieves a shutter release delay of about 0.06 seconds in the wide-angle range and 0.05 seconds in the telephoto range. If no pre-focusing is used, a shutter release takes about 0.27 seconds at wide angle and 0.2 seconds at telephoto.
Robust, waterproof, frost-proof and handy, the Olympus Tough TG-5 is the ideal camera for the water and winter sports enthusiast who does not want to do without an extensively equipped camera with many photo and video functions as well as GPS and WLAN connectivity and wireless flash control. The remote control functions via a smart device are convincing and the focus stacking mode also delivers very good results. The resolution is very good for a 12 megapixel camera, but unfortunately edge blur and chromatic aberrations are visible in the wide-angle range. Up to ISO 400, image noise and loss of detail are negligible. Only beyond that does the noise increase and the detail rendition decrease. The camera’s backlight sensitivity can cause problems in certain situations, but these can be avoided by the photographer.
At present, no manufacturer can manage the balancing act between an affordable, robust and waterproof compact camera with zoom and very good image quality. Unfortunately, the Tough TG-5 from Olympus is no exception. In return, the camera impresses with its comprehensive equipment and versatile photographic functions. In addition, nothing stands in the way of upgrading the camera to a “real” underwater camera thanks to an optional housing and a wirelessly controllable underwater flash unit.
|Sensor||CMOS 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6
)12.0 megapixels (effective)
|Resolution (max.)||4.000 x 3.000 (4:3)|
|Video (max.)||3.840 x 2,160 30p|
|Filter thread||40.5 mm (optional)|
|Monitor||3.0″ (7.6 cm)|
|AV connector||HDMI output Micro (Type D)|
|Scene mode automatic||yes|
|Scene mode programs||22|
|Automatic aperture control||–|
|Bulb Long Term Exposure||–|
|Exposure metering||Multi-field, spot|
|fastest shutter speed||1/2.000 s|
|Synchronous time||1/2.000 s|
|Remote release||yes, remote control via smartphone/tablet|
SD (SDXC, SDHC)
|Number of measuring fields||–|
|Speed||0,20 to 0,27 s|
|AF auxiliary light||LED|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||113 x 66 x 32 mm|
|Weight (ready for operation)||250 g|
|Tripod thread||off optical axis|
|Zoom adjustment||Ring rocker (motorized)|
|Battery life||380 recordings according to CIPA standard|
|– = “not applicable” or “not available|
- Easy handling
- Extensive range of functions
- Wireless flash control
- Robust housing
- Up to ISO 400 quite good image quality
- Very tight shutter release
- Fiddly opening flaps
- Sensitive to backlighting
Olympus TG-5 Data sheet
|Sensor||CMOS sensor 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6
)12.0 megapixels (effective)
|Image formats||JPG, RAW|
|Color depth||24 bits (8 bits per color channel)|
|Metadata||Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard|
|Maximum recording time||29 min|
|Audio format (video)||WAV|
|Focal length||25 to 100 mm (35mm equivalent
.5 to 18 mm (physical)
digital zoom 4x
|Sharpness range||10 cm to infinity (wide angle
)10 cm to infinity (telephoto)
|Macro area||1 cm (wide angle)|
|Aperture||F2 to F8 (wide angle
)F4.9 to F18 (telephoto)
|Autofocus mode||Contrast Autofocus|
|Autofocus functions||Single AF, Continuous AF, Area AF, Tracking AF, Manual, AFL function, AF assist light (LED), Focus peaking, Focus magnifier|
|Sharpness control||Live view|
|Filter thread||40.5 mm, optional filter thread|
Viewfinder and monitor
|Monitor||3.0″ (7.6 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 460,000 pixels, non-reflective, brightness adjustable|
|Exposure metering||Matrix/multi-field measurement, spot metering|
|Exposure times||1/2,000 to 1/2 s (Automatic
)1/2,000 to 4 s (Manual)
|Exposure control||Fully automatic, program automatic, aperture priority, subject automatic|
|Exposure bracketing function||HDR function|
|Exposure Compensation||-2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV|
|Photosensitivity||ISO 100 to ISO 12.800 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 12.800 (manual)
|Remote access||Remote control via smartphone/tablet|
|Scene modes||HDR, candlelight, children, landscape, night automatic, night landscape, night portrait, portrait, sunset, sport, beach/snow, 11 more scene modes available|
|Picture effects||Pinhole camera, miniature effect, monochrome, portrait, vivid, watercolor, dramatic sound, glitter mode, pop art, reflection, rock, 30 more image effects|
|White balance||Automatic, Clouds, Sun, Shadow, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp, Incandescent light, from 2.000 to 14.000 K, Manual 4 memories|
|Continuous shooting||Continuous shooting function max. 5 fps at highest resolution and max. 5 stored photos, 60 frames per second max. 100 frames (in 3 megapixel mode)|
|Self-timer||Self-timer with distance of 2|
|Timer||Timer/interval recordings with max. 999 recordings, start time adjustable|
|Recording functions||AEL function, AFL function, live histogram|
|Flash range||0.2 to 7.9 m at wide angle 0
.2 to 3.1 m at telephoto At
ISO 1,600 Flash sync speed
|Flash functions||Auto, Fill-flash, Flash on, Flash off, Slow sync, Manual flash output (19 levels), Red-eye reduction by pre-flash, Master function (1 channel and 1 group), Flash exposure compensation from -2.0 EV to +2.0 EV|
|Image stabilizer||Sensor shift (optical)|
SD (SDHC, SDXC)
|Internal memory||yes (55 MByte)|
|Power supply unit||Power supply connectionUSB continuous power supplyUSB charging function|
|Power supply||1 x Olympus LI-92B (Lithium ion (Li-Ion), 3.6 V, 1,350 mAh)|
|Playback functions||Video editing, cropping, image rotation, image protection, playback histogram, image index, slide show function, zoom out|
|Voice memo||Voice memo (WAV format)|
|Face recognition||Face recognition|
|Image parameters||Sharpness, contrast, color saturation|
|Grille can be faded in during recording||yes|
|Special functions||Electronic spirit level, pixel mapping, orientation sensor, live view, user profiles with 2 user profiles|
|Connections||Data interfaces: USBWLAN
: presentAudio output
: noAudio input
: noVideo output
: yes (HDMI output Micro (Type D))
|Supported direct printing methods||DPOF, PictBridge, PIM|
|Tripod thread||1/4″ not in optical axis|
|Housing||Splashproof, waterproof up to 15.0 m (class IPX8), dustproof, drop-resistant up to 2.1 m, loadable up to 100 kg, frost-proof up to -10 °C|
|Technical notes||To mount the Teleconverter TCON-T01 and the Fisheye Converter FCON-T01 to the camera, the attachment lens adapter CLA-T01 must also be screwed onto the camera.|
|Special features and miscellaneous||TruePic-VIII Image ProcessorShadow BrighteningFocus Row CaptureFocus Stacking FunctionMicroscope ModeLive
CompositeFlicker ReductionDistortion CorrectionVignetting CorrectionProCapture ModeElectronic
Size and weight
|Weight||250 g (ready for operation)|
|Dimensions W x H x D||113 x 66 x 32 mm|
|standard accessory||Olympus CB-USB8 USB CableOlympus
F-2AC AC AdapterOlympus
LI-92B Rechargeable Battery ChargerUSB Connecting CablesStrap StrapImage Processing SoftwareOlympus Master Software for Windows and Macintosh
|additional accessories||Olympus CLA-T01 Attachment Lens AdapterOlympus
FD-1 Flash Diffuser Flash AccessoriesOlympus
LG-1 (Fibre Optic Attachment)
Olympus PRF-D40.5 MFT Universal ProductOlympus
PT-058 Underwater HousingOlympus
PT-059 Underwater HousingOlympus
TCON-T01 Tele-ConverterVideo Connection Cable