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UNDERWATER WITH THE TG-5

During the Underwater Photography Workshop that I gave in the Red Sea in Egypt for one week in May 2017, I had the opportunity to test the new OLYMPUS Tough TG-5. Accustomed to work with TG cameras, this one has surpassed my expectations in many ways.

Ergonomically, the grip has changed, there is a new control dial on top at the right hand side that facilitates features like exposure compensation or the menu navigation, and the zoom knob is more comfortable, surrounding the shutter button. One of the things that caught my attention at first glance when doing captures is the quality of the image and the focus range. This higher quality is caused by a lower resolution compared to the previous models. By having the same sensor size, the pixels are larger which makes them contain more information. As a result, you achieve a better focus quality and a wider dynamic range. The focus speed is also surprisingly fast for a compact camera, even in low light situations.

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Juan José Saéz • Tough! TG-5

The available shooting modes did not change: P, A, Auto, Microscope, Underwater, Scene and 2 user-customizable modes. Scene modes are grouped by families in order to make the selection much faster

In the shooting menu, the TG-5 incorporates an inherited version of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II Pro-capture mode to not miss any scene regardless of how fast it happens. 
With the continuous LED light of the camera and also with natural light that I found underwater I was able to dive down to 15 meters only, because the new PT-058 underwater case allowing it to be waterproof down to a depth of 45 meters, was not available for this trip yet.

Then I tested how the TG-5 manages the underwater modes. In any of these modes it behaves perfectly because it is designed to apply a specific white balance for underwater photography, ISO, shooting speed, aperture RAW and/or JPG, focus, etc. However, some of these parameters can be modified. The results can be seen in the photos illustrating this article. The one-touch white balance is very effective down to a depth of 10 to 12 meters with good visibility.

Juan José Saéz • Tough! TG-5


The focal length of 25-100 mm is enough for most scenes and the aperture 1:2.0 at 25mm allows you to play with depth of field depending on the scene mode used. Besides, it is one of the most luminous cameras of its segment.

Being so small and manageable, the TG-5 allows you to take photos and videos in places that, with bigger equipment, would totally be impossible. In addition, its mode dial allows you to switch from one mode to another in a convenient and quick way, from photo to macro, simply by pressing a button and then “ok”. The new top dial makes it possible to compensate exposure very fast, even with gloves. This is very important, because when you are underwater, the light conditions change depending on the depth and direction of the shot.

Juan José Saéz • Tough! TG-5

The video mode, with a shortcut button, incorporates resolutions, 4K at 30p, Full HD at 60 and 30p and Sport Mode in Full HD at 120 and HD at 240 fps that allows playing in slow motion with high speed captures. The quality of the capture surprises, as in the photo, its quality, definition and dynamic range. On the side, protected by a watertight cover, the camera also has an HDMI port to connect it to a TV or monitor with this type of input.

The new Olympus all-terrain is the most sophisticated Tough so far. Its built-in pressure gauge warns at 11 meters that it is reaching the maximum depth. With a dual pane anti-fog glass in the lens and withstanding drops from 2.1 meters in height, 100kg of pressure and temperatures of down to -10 degrees it is ready for any adventure. A compass and the possible WIFI connection are also very handy. So, you are able to directly transfer the images to a smartphone or tablet, while the camera can be controlled from the device using the free OI Share application. The best thing is that it is very fun, very simple to manage and enables you to do incredible things both in photo and video, both in water and on land.

Juan José Saéz • Tough! TG-5