REVIEWED: Olympus Tough TG-5 compact camera

Waterproof and drop-proof, this action camera-killer can shoot RAW photos and 4K video

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Action cameras have been all the rage in the last few years among travel photographers, but there’s one thing they don’t do very well, and that’s take photographs. Hampered by having a fisheye lens with a fixed focus, action cameras are pretty limited, and Olympus is hoping that adventure-seekers want to improve the quality of their travel photography by getting their hands on this highly capable compact camera.

Olympus Tough TG-5: design

There’s no doubting the tough nature of the TG-5. It can go 15m underwater, which makes it great for snorkelling and shallow dives. It’s also crush-proof to 100 kg, which means you can wipe-out on a ski slope and fall on top of it without any worries. It’s also drop-proof from 2.1 m, which means even the tallest member of your party can accidentally chuck it onto hard rock without it breaking. However, what we liked most was that the TG-5 can be used in temperatures as low as -10°C. That makes it usable not only on skiing trips, but on travel to polar regions in winter. That’s something that action cameras and DSLRs can usually handle, but no compact camera or smartphone can.

Olympus Tough TG-5: specs & usability

Although the lens is covered with fog-proof glass to protect it from water, this camera does have a 4x optical zoom. Its 25-100 mm lens is capable of f2-4.9 aperture, and 20 FPS burst shooting. What really makes this camera stand out is its ability to capture RAW images, meaning there’s a whole lot more data collected than most compact cameras. It makes it much easier to process-out picture noise and other blemishes if you’re prepared to use editing software like Photoshop.

Olympus Tough TG-5: usability

The user interface is the low point of the otherwise impressive TG-5. On more than one occasion we couldn’t find what we were looking for, and it took us a few days to get used to the way it works. The apps required to get files from the TG-5 to a smartphone phone are particularly disappointing, with a specific app needed to grab the data collected from this camera’s GPS module. It constantly records your geographical position (even your altitude and the current temperature) and tallies it with the photos and videos taken, though it does run-down the TG-5’s battery more quickly.

Olympus Tough TG-5: image & video quality

When used in bright conditions, this camera’s 12-megapixel images are fantastic; detail is high, skies are blue, and colours are always great (though they improve if you use the TG-5’s HDR modes). Despite there being a couple of semi-manual modes, this camera majors on its automatic modes, including a couple of nice macro modes, which produce super sharp close-ups.

Olympus Tough TG-5: conclusion

This camera is not going to beat any DSLR on image quality, despite shooting in the RAW format. It’s also not as easy to operate as most action cameras. However, it does have a much better lens than any other action camera, especially when it comes to photography, and the 4K video produces is very good. All in all, this is the great choice for skiers, kayakers, hikers, climbers, youngsters and mountain bikers looking for something semi-serious for their next adventure. The low-point is the price, which makes it twice the price of most other ‘tough’ cameras, but in terms of raw photography skill, it does have twice as much to offer.

Price as reviewed: UK£419.99 / US$379.99

Buy the Olympus Tough TG-5 compact camera

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