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Olympus Tough TG-1 Digital Camera Review

olympus20120827aa.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Keith Parsons

It's obvious to see from the product images that the Olympus TG-1 is a 'tough' camera with its overall metal and rubber construction it certainly appears to be a rather sturdy & serious camera. Though it is not only looks that the TG-1 is big on, it also comprises a quality spec list to more than rival its competitors.

Features like a 3-inch 610,000 dot resolution OLED screen and a 25-100mm f2.0 lens are sure to excite many, although its main selling points might just be the ability to add two external converter lenses; a telephoto or fisheye option.

 

Appearance & Functionality


As mentioned above the Olympus TG-1 is labelled a 'tough' camera, which tends to be applied to any camera that is able to be submerged, though the Olympus backs this title up with an impressive list of other tough capabilities. The camera is crushproof to 100kgf, waterproof to 12m, shockproof to 2m, dustproof and also freezeproof to -10°c. These feature will ensure the cameras operation in most active situations like snorkelling, skiing, surfing etc. A number of other design features also ensure the camera lives up to its tough monicker for example the battery and SD card doors are double locked to ensure no water can enter the camera body. There is also a wrist strap and rubber grip pads to reduce finger fatigue.

olympus20120827ab.jpgThe TG-1 uses a fairly logical layout for its navigational and operational buttons. The buttons themselves are are about the right size for most fingers although any smaller and they may be an issue for some, though you will find their action is firm. The cameras menus are well set out and easy to read due largely to the impressive 3” OLED screen as well as the colours Olympus has opted for in the menu layout; black background with green highlight. The Playback menu is also accessed quickly and offers enough information without crowding the viewing space.

If art filters and scene modes are your thing then the TG-1 has you well and truly covered with two designated modes. The 'Magic Filter' mode allows for quirky creative presets like 'drawing' or 'pinhole' that can be applied to your photos. Whereas the cameras 'Scene Mode' automatically chooses the exposure settings based on your selected situation. Some of the more useful options include the 'sunset', 'beach and snow', 'macro' and perhaps the 'night time' options. Two other modes that are more unique to the TG-1 is designated 'Super Sport' mode which allows easy sequence shooting and the 'Low Light' mode which sets up easy night time shooting. All of the cameras modes are accessed via the mode dial found on the rear panel. Whilst there are a number of more creative options there is no aperture/shutter priority or manual mode and this is dissapointing.

In a number of recent releases (especially travel or tough options) manufacturers have been including GPS functionality and the TG-1 follows this trend. The GPS allows you to record the location and landmark information alongside your images for use with programs like Google Earth. A usual gripe about GPS in compact cameras is its effects on battery life, though the TG-1 utilises a brand new battery, the LI-90, which has increased performance and life. Charging is done via a newly designed wall unit rather than the more traditional battery pack. This cuts down on unwanted size especially handy when travelling.

 

Image Quality


The Olympus TG-1 comprises a 12.0 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and a new true pic VI image processor to extract the most out of the sensor. The camera has an ISO range of 100-6000 and images appear without any disruptive noise to above 400ISO although as with many smaller sensor cameras as you push into the high end of the ISO range the images become unfortunately overpowered by noise.

With a maximum pixel resolution of 3968px x 2976px images have a reasonable enough resolution to make quality prints. The maximum size I would suggest might be around the A3 region however there are a number of smaller sized resolutions that will keep your file sizes down for internet or email usage. There is no RAW capability on the TG-1 however and this is a little disappointing as it would push this camera even further ahead of its competitors.

 

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Lens Quality


olympus20120827ac.jpgThe TG-1 utilises a 25-105mm f2.0 lens which for its class is fantastically specced. The focal length will allow coverage of most subjects and is especially suited to wide angle work underwater. Interestingly Olympus have created 2 screw on lens adapters which attach after a twist cap is removed from around the lens. There is a telephoto and wide angle fisheye option and both adhere to the same standards as the rest of the TG-1s tough design. Though these are both after market options and are not included in the box. One minor qualm in the lens department is the lack of a lens cap and it seems rather odd that this would not be included in some capacity.

Overall the TG-1s lens performs very well with great sharpness, focus accuracy and speed. Even though the lens is f2.0 there is actually no way of setting the cameras aperture so unless via the auto function you fluke the f2.0 then don’t hope for depth of field control here. This is likely due to the nature of the camera though and it must be remembered that the TG - is designed for active fast paced use.

 

LCD

 

olympus20120827ad.jpgThe 3” 610,000 dot resolution OLED screen that occupies a large majority of the cameras rear panel is a big step up from the TG-1's competitors. Images appear incredibly detailed for an on camera screen and it looks great underwater as well.

My only gripe is that the screen seems to pump the blues, especially in the sky tones, though as always viewing images for critical assessment should be left for a proper computer monitor.

 

Video

 

The Olympus TG-1 has the ability to shoot Full HD 1080p video which is a real delight especially when mixed with the ability of the camera to be used in such harsh conditions. Whilst there is a fair amount of visible noise, videos appear extremely sharp and with plentiful contrast.

The camera also features rather decent stabilisation via its CMOS shift capability. Good video stabilisation is often overlooked in compact cameras though Olympus have delivered smooth and usable video even when subjected to a great deal of camera movement. Also of note on the video side is the cameras stereo sound. It is often the ability of a camera to shoot stereo rather than mono sound that separates professional looking video from amateur.

 

 


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Conclusion


The Olympus TG-1 is a solidly built do it all “Tough” camera and it would be easy to see its use in a number of active pursuits. Though at the end of the day it is one thing for the camera to be useable in these conditions it is another to walk away with quality images and video and on this point the TG-1 delivers.

The TG-1's features speak for themselves with is generous 3” OLED screen and FULL HD video.  I would expect to be paying top dollar for a camera like this though with a RRP of $499.95 it should suit the serious amateur and certainly sit towards the top of your active/travel camera wish list!

 

Accessories Used During Testing:

Tamrac Aero 94 / 3394 Camera Bag  

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SD Card 

 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Olympus TG-1  

 

Appearance rating 5 stars
Functionality rating 4.5 stars
Image quality
4.5 stars
Video quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
LCD screen (Rear)
4.5 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price
$499.95
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 12 megapixels
Sensor Type
1/2.3-in. BSI-CMOS TruePic VI
Image Sizes 9 sizes / 2 ratios
Lens 4.5-18.0mm (25 -100mm equiv. in 35mm photography)
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills 12M (3968x2976)
8M (3264x2448)
5M (2560x1920)
3M (2048x1536)
2M (1600x1200)
1M (1280x960)
VGA (640x480)
16:9 L (3968x2232)
16:9 S (1920x1080) 
Resolution Settings: Video 1080P, 720P, VGA
*When shooting 1080P/720P movies, Use SDHC class 6 (speed class) / SDXC class 6 or higher.
GPS Yes, Built In
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority No
Shutter Priority
No
Shutter Speeds 1/4 - 1/2000s (Night scene longest 4 Sec)
ISO ISO 100 - 6400
LCD Monitor 3.0" OLED, 610,000 pixels
Viewfinder -
Flash Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in, OFF
Built-in (GN 4.6),
W: 0.15 - 5.6 (ISO800)
T: 0.1m - 2.2 (ISO800)
Normal Mode: W/T: 0.6m-8
Macro Mode: W: 0.15m-8, T: 0.1m-8
Super Macro Mode: 0.01m-0.6m (Standard only, Flash Off)
Hot Shoe No
White Balance Auto, Custom, Daylight, Fluorescent, Overcast, Overcast, Tungsten, Underwater
Self Timer 2 seconds or 12 seconds
Stills Format/s
JPEG
Video Format/s MPEG-4 AVC / H.264, MOV
Video Recording Time/s 29 Minutes / 4GB
Storage Type - External SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards
Storage Type - Internal
7.9MB
Connectivity Multi-Terminal (USB Connector, DC Jack, Audio/Video Output), HDMI Type D
Power Source LI-90B external charger
Battery Options Rechargeable In-camera battery via USB
Battery Life Approximately 350 Shots
Dimensions 111.5mm (W) x 66.5mm (H) x 29.1mm (D) 
Weight 230g (including battery and memory card)
















 


 

 

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About Olympus

 

In Greek mythology, Mt.Olympus is the home of the twelve supreme gods and goddesses. Olympus was named after this mountain to reflect its strong aspiration to create high quality, world famous products.

"Olympus" has been used as a trademark since the time of Takachiho Seisakusho, the predecessor of Olympus Corporation.

In Japanese mythology, it is said that eight million gods and goddesses live in Takamagahara, the peak of Mt.Takachiho. The name "Olympus" was selected as the trademark because Mt.Olympus, like Mt.Takachiho, was the home of gods and goddesses. This trademark is also imbued with the aspiration of Olympus to illuminate the world with its optical devices, just like Takamagahara brought light to the world.

Takachiho Seisakusho was renamed Takachiho Optical Co., Ltd. in 1942 when optical products became the mainstay of the company. In 1947, the name was changed again to Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. in an attempt to enhance its corporate image.

And in 2003, the company made a fresh start as Olympus Corporation, to show its willingness to establish a dynamic corporate brand by unifying the corporate name and the well-known brand.

In recent years, Olympus Corporation has focused on "Opto-Digital Technology" as its core competence, technological strengths that competitors cannot easily imitate, to maximize corporate value and to become one of the top optical instrument manufactures.

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