Olympus TOUGH TG-2 Hands On Review and Sample Photos
When the Going Gets Tough . . .
|The Olympus TOUGH TG-2 iHS: not just for underwater photos!|
Olympus pushes the rugged camera envelope again with its new flagship Tough model, the STYLUS TOUGH TG-2 iHS—but the latest in super-durable cameras is not just for divers and explorers: its image quality is great and features such as an optional 60 frames per second shooting and easy to navigate controls make it one of the best travel point and shoots available. Read on for a hands-on review and for some sample images.
Specs: Bright f/2.0 Lens, 12.4 MP Sensor, and 5 to 60 FPS Shooting
The TG-2 sports an industry-leading, bright f/2.0 maximum aperture lens at its 25mm (35mm-equivalent) wide angle, and a 12.4 megapixel CMOS image sensor and TruePic VI image processor similar to those found in Olympus’ PEN series cameras. This combination gives it an impressive ISO sensitivity range of 100-6400, as well as a speedy 5 fps shooting at the full 12 MP for 25 frames . . . or up to an amazing 60 fps for 100 images at 3 MP. There are several settings between 5 fps and 60 fps that allow for more or less detail.
|Olympus TG-2, f/2.0 at 1/80 sec., ISO 100, slight cropping but no image manipulation.|
Hands-On: A Great Street Shooter
That lightning-quick speed makes this a fantastic street shooter and (with the shutter sound turned off!) perfect for taking travel photos unnoticed. Focusing is quick and accurate. Even the reduction in image size at the highest frame rate produces very good photos, fully capable of small prints or web photos. While certainly a bit bulkier than your average point and shoot, the TG-2 isn't too heavy or too big to carry around. In fact, its tough characteristics make it a great travel candidate.
Olympus appears to have done some testing on its user interface. Controls on the TG-2 are excellent, a real pleasure to work with. Flash control, self-timers, exposure compensation, ISO and white balance are easily accessed using the TG-2’s rear joystick-like control (instead of having to dive into the menus).
|Olympus TG-2, f/2.0 at 1/320 sec., ISO 100, slight cropping but no image manipulation.|
Image quality is really quite fantastic. Test images were sharp, with excellent color representation from reds to greens. Even at automatic settings, the TG-2 managed to nearly perfectly meter scenes, resulting in well-balanced and accurate photos. Contrast is great, with little or no post-production necessary in most cases. There is a slight amount of fringing in out of focus areas, not atypical for point and shoot cameras, but the TG-2 definitely performs better than most cheap P&S’s.
Aperture Priority & Enhanced Intelligent Auto
For added creativity and control, the TG-2 allows you to bring Aperture Priority mode to places you wouldn’t take your DSLR. Aperture selection choices are limited to three choices (wide open at the chosen zoom setting (from f/2 to f/4.9), stepped down slightly and stepped down to the maximum for the zoom (from f/8 to f/18)). Still, the option to control some aperture is certainly welcomed.
|Olympus TG-2, f/2.8 at 1/200 sec., ISO 100, slight cropping but no image manipulation.|
The camera also features enhanced Intelligent Auto for quick and accurate photos, and automatically detects the subject and lighting situation to identify what type of scene—from up to 30 different options—you are shooting. As noted above, auto settings were very accurate and quite reliable.
|High Speed 15 FPS: f/2.8 at 1/2000 sec., ISO 100, slight cropping but no image manipulation.|
Video: A GoPro Alternative?
While not specifically marketed as a challenge to the number of action sports cams gaining in popularity, such as the GoPro and Contour+, the TG-2 certainly should be considered as a viable alternative, particularly for photographers looking for only occasional but high quality video. Naturally the TOUGH shoots in 1080p HD video (1920 x 1080 pixels) at 30 fps, but can also shoot high-speed videos at up to 240 fps (in QVGA, or 320 x 240 pixels) in .AVI format, far faster than those other action cams—albeit at a much lower resolution. The TG-2 also includes Linear PCM Stereo audio recording, a feature typically reserved for higher end cameras.
Rounding out its feature set is a 3 inch, high-resolution OLED (610,000 dot) display that is very bright, even in direct sunlight (something the aforementioned sports cameras decidedly lack). The screen has a number of protective coatings to prevent scratches.
If that wasn’t enough, the TG-2 accepts an additional fish-eye lens for wide shooting and which can be used at all of the above-mentioned extremes. Is 50 feet deep not enough for you? Add the Olympus PT-053 underwater housing for dives up to 135 feet.
The TG-2 is a beautiful, capable, feature-rich camera that takes fantastic photos. While bulkier than your average point and shoot, this camera is not just for diving or taking to the beach. Its speed and image quality make it a great street shooter/travel camera, with the added bonus of protection from drops, spills and chills.
More Sample Photos
More Sample Photos