Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Camera Review – Rugged Camera for Snapshooters
Instead of making one more rugged camera, the manufacturer here has given Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS something which no other camera has – max bright f2.0 aperture. If you see all other rugged compact cameras in the market, including the ones from Olympus, you will find that they come with slow lenses along with max apertures to f3.9 from f3.3. This isn’t really good if you are going to shoot in the low light or underwater conditions.
The aperture is really small, then you will need to rely a lot on the slower speeds of shutter and this will give you blur. Also, on the higher settings of ISO, you will get a lot of noise and softness of image if you are not shooting in bright sunlight. You will not get shallow field depth that you’d get from f2.0 lens on SLR digital or mirrorless compact system of camera outside the macro shots. However, in conditions of less light, you get good quality photos. F2.0 lens is the only good feature of this camera, there are other goodies like fast image processor, high speed sensor, high sensitivity, and the shooting performance and photos are much better as compared to the other models of Tough.
Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS The photo quality :
Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS has photo quality is good considering that this is a point and shoot rugged camera. But you shouldn’t expect quality like that of XZ-1. If you are on the lowest settings, this TG-1 will drift between the over sharpened or smeary and soft when you view the photos at hundred percent. This will continue till ISO 800 and after that, things start to get noisy and soft. I won’t recommend using ISO 3200 except for photos that are must have. ISO 6400 should be totally avoided. Use ISO 400 or less and you will be happy. The edge of this camera is its f2.0 lens; it lets you use the higher ISOs in less light conditions.
Tough TG-1 iHS The video quality :
The quality of video is quite good but it is best made for Web sharing. The quality isn’t drastically improved as compared to what you get from a high end smartphone or a small pocket video camera. Quality of audio is a bit better though. Zoom is available while recording and you will also hear it in the scenes that are quieter. There is also image stabilization; the sensor shift IS is prone to some jitter from the hand shake while lens is extended.
Tough TG-1 iHS The shooting performance :
Before this, the cameras that were made by Olympus weren’t really fast. The shooting performance was slow and interface too was sluggish. This made them very frustrating to use. However, I was glad to see that this isn’t a problem with the TG-1. It took around 2.1 seconds from switch off mode to the first shot and the shot to shot times have gone down to 1.2 seconds. With the flash, it is 1.8 seconds. The shutter lag is 0.3 second where as in the low light conditions; it goes down to 0.6 second. These times are well on par with the models from Panasonic and Sony.
While trying to capture the action, the Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS come with plenty of options for burst shooting. With full res, you get to capture five fps and if you go down to three megapixels res, you will get options of sixty or fifteen frames per second.
Tough TG-1 iHS The design :
Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS might be a rugged camera but it isn’t as rugged as the Pentax WG-2. There is a certain amount of heft attached to it and this will give you durability that the manufacturer is promising. This camera can survive up to 6.6 feet and temperatures of 14 degrees F. In the water, it can survive forty feet for around one hour and weight crushing of 220 pounds. I did some informal testing to see if it indeed survives all this and the camera lived up to its promises. However, I won’t recommend you to test its limits. Also, read the user’s manual carefully before you use it.
Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Features :
The biggest reason why you should opt for the Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS over the others is because of the f2.0 lens. You will run out of light fast while you are underwater and hence having max aperture will be big difference. There is more to this camera than just big aperture. The manufacturer has put in removable surround around 4x 25-100 mm zoom lens which lets you attach adapter for the converter lenses. Lens of fish eye will give you wide angle dramatic shots along with converter tele photo lens that are available for extending optical zoom to 6.8x to 4x. You can use both lenses down to about forty feet.
This camera is made for the snapshooters. For most of the part, this one is just about the automation and scene modes and hence if you are looking for plenty of controls, then I won’t recommend you this camera. Program mode will give you some control over the white balance, ISO, exposure, AF, and metering. You get to set 2 custom profiles for settings groups which you get to use regularly. There is also Olympus iAuto which works quite well and it recognizes around thirty different scenes which includes the backlit and the underwater subjects.
If you are feeling creative, you should play along with the Magic Art Filters. You get nice mix of the standards like Watercolor, Fish Eye, Pin Hole, and also some standouts like Reflection. The latter will mirror the things which are on top half of frame to bottom half. Fragmented option will split the photo in small tiles. All these are fun to play along with.
There are some annoyances here which will certainly irritate you. For instance, the stereo mic is good but it is located on left side of body and on top. You will easily cover it with finger while holding this camera. There is some room behind along with rubber grip for the thumb down on left side of bright and sharp three inches OLED screen. There are some to get around.
Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Battery :
Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS supports Olympus Li-90B lithium ion rechargeable battery. You can charge the battery of this camera through USB. I was disappointed to see that Olympus has used multi input proprietary jack instead of the commonly used microUSB ports. You will need special cable but it is included in the pack.
Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Price :
The Olympus Tough TG-1 his camera comes for around $399.99.
This isn’t the first time that Olympus has made a rugged camera. In fact, they have made some rugged devices for quite a long time and their claims of durability have been true. However, these cameras haven’t been able to stay on par with the products of other players like Canon and Panasonic. I really liked the fast performance, useful features, good video and photo quality on board considering that this is point and shoot camera. It is a really tough camera too.