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Olympus Tough TG-1 Digital Compact Camera Review

The TG-1 is the latest Tough camera from Olympus, Daniel Bell reviews.

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Olympus Tough Tg 1 Front 1

The Tough TG-1 is the latest rugged digital compact camera from Olympus which has a 4x optical zoom f/2 lens which can also be used with special fisheye and tele converters. The converters are both priced at £129.99 with the camera priced at £309.00.

Olympus Tough Tg 1 Top

Olympus Tough TG-1 Features

The Olympus Tough TG-1 has a 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and a 4x optical zoom f/2.0 lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 25-100mm, with Dual Image Stabilisation to help keep images blur free. It is waterproof to 12m, shockproof to 2m, crushproof to 100kg and freezeproof to -10°C. A unique feature for a digital compact is the ability to add fisheye and tele converter lens via an optional adapter.

The TG-1 has iHS Technology with modes including Low Light, Super Sports and Super Macro. There is also a Beauty Make-up Mode, Pet Detection Mode, In-Camera Panoramas, Magic Filters, HDR Backlight Adjustment, Advanced iAuto and AF Tracking, Face Detection and Advanced SAT (Shadow Adjustment Technology).

The camera is also armed with some handy extras including Super-resolution Zoom, GPS & Electronic Compass, Tap Control, Manometer and LED Illuminator. Videos can be recorded at full 1080p HD Movie with HDMI Control and Multi-motion Movie IS, there is also stereo sound.

Olympus Tough Tg 1 Screen

Key Features

  • 12 Megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
  • 4x optical zoom f/2.0 lens (35mm equiv: 25-100mm)
  • Dual Image Stabilisation
  • 3.0 inch 610,000 dot OLED screen
  • Waterproof to 12m
  • Shockproof to 2m
  • Crushproof to 100kg
  • GPS & Electronic Compass
  • 1080p Full HD Movie and HDMI Control
  • ISO 100-6400
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance
  • HDR Backlight Adjustment
  • In-Camera Panorama
  • TruePic VI image processor
  • iHS Technology
  • Low Light Mode
  • Super Sports Mode
  • Super Macro Mode
  • Multi-motion Movie IS
  • Magic Filter Movie and/or Stills
  • Advanced iAuto and AF Tracking
  • Face Detection and Advanced SAT
  • Super-resolution Zoom
  • 3D Photo Shooting Mode
  • Beauty Make-up Mode
  • Pet Detection Mode
  • Tap Control, Manometer, LED Illuminator
Olympus Tough Tg 1 With Fisheye Converter 1

Olympus Tough TG-1 Handling

The TG-1 has a very solid metal body with a substantial rubber grip on the front and one for your right hand thumb on the rear. The buttons aren't as large and chunky as some of the other Tough models, but if you are struggling to use the camera with your gloves on you can activate Tap Control with allows you to adjust the camera's setting by simply tapping the sides of the camera. The buttons are fairly typical for a compact camera, with a dedicated movie record button and a mode dial which has a ridged edge to aid grip.

For those who have used recent Olympus compact cameras the menu system will feel very familiar, for those who haven't they are easy to get used to. The basic settings which can be adjusted in each mode are displayed down the right hand side of the screen and the d-pad is used to cycle through them. The 3 inch OLED screen is crisp and bright, even in low light conditions.

The battery doesn't have a CIPA rating, we were able to do all our testing on one charge (over 200 shots), although we did leave the GPS switched on after, which flattened the battery completely. We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.

Shutter Response   0.1 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.175 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.175 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   0.75 secs
Shot to Shot (without flash)   0.9 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   1.1 secs
Sequential Shooting   4.7 fps
High-speed 1   17.5 fps
High-speed 2   62 fps

Sequential shooting records at full 12 megapixel resolution, with high-speed 1 and 2 limited to a maximum of 3 megapixels.

Olympus Tough Tg 1 Battery And Memory Card 1

Olympus Tough TG-1 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.

Olympus Tough TG-1 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with really good colour reproduction. Portraits have good skin tones and are free of red-eye. Landscapes have excellent blues and greens. Pet mode automatically takes a picture when your pets face is detected.

Olympus Tough TG-1 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The lens doesn't protrude from the camera body, so is extremely small, this commonly is at the expense of image quality. Detail is fairly good in the centre of the images but are much softer in the corners and there is evidence of purple fringing in contrasting areas. The lens can focus as close as 1cm which allows you to get close enough to take a good macro shot.

Olympus Tough TG-1 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - There is no noise at ISO 100, with a small amount appearing at ISO 200 and again at ISO 400. Noise at ISO 800 causes the image to become softer and a little more softer at ISO 1600. ISO 3200 sees quite a loss of detail which black dots appearing, which gets even worse at ISO 6400.

Olympus Tough TG-1 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lighting the AWB preset takes an image with a slight orange cast, with the incandescent preset taking the better picture. The AWB preset performs really well under the fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset having a magenta cast.

Olympus Tough TG-1 Scene modes

Above are a number of images taken using a number of the scene modes available on the TG-1. We tried taking panoramas but there some stitching issues, something which is disappointing.

Fisheye Landscape | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100   Fisheye Portrait | 1/30 sec | f/2.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 200
These pictures have been taken using the optional fisheye lens, unfortunately Olympus were unable to provide us with the tele converter to test. Using it to take portraits is good fun.

(Above) Fisheye Landscape | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100

(Right) Fisheye Portrait | 1/30 sec | f/2.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 200

Olympus Tough TG-1 Digital filters

Digital Filters - As you'd expect to find on an Olympus compact camera, there are twelve magic filters available to help you take unique and creative pictures, examples of each are above.

Video - Below is a video shot at full 1080p with use of the optical zoom during recording included. Stabilisation is also available when shooting videos.

Value For Money

The Olympus Tough TG-1 is one of the most expensive rugged cameras, available for £309.00, but is one of the most feature packed.

  Waterproof Shockproof Freezeproof Price
Kodak Easyshare Sport C123 3m - - £50.00
Nikon Coolpix S30 3m 0.8m - £84.99
Olympus Tough TG-320 3m 1.5m -10°C £119.00
Fujifilm FinePix XP50 5m 1.5m -10°C £129.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 5m 1.5m -10°C £149.00
Pentax Optio WG-1 / (GPS) 10m 1.5m -10°C £164.00 / (199.00)
Fujifilm FinePix XP150 GPS 10m 2m -10°C £189.00
Olympus Tough TG-620 5m 1.5m -10°C £199.00
Canon PowerShot D10 10m 1.2m -10°C £214.00
Olympus Tough TG-820 10m 2m -10°C £229.00
Nikon Coolpix AW100 10m 1.5m -10°C £229.99
Pentax Optio WG-2 / (GPS) 12m 1.5m -10°C £229.00 / (£269.00)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 12m 2m -10°C £254.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 12m 2m -10°C £299.00
Sony Cyber-shot TX20 5m 1.5m -10°C £299.00
Canon PowerShot D20 10m 1.5m -10°C £309.00
Olympus Tough TG-1 12m 2m -10°C £309.00
Ricoh G700 5m 2m -10°C £449.00

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Olympus Tough TG-1 Verdict

The Olympus Tough TG-1 certainly delivers in terms of features, it has a whole host that you don't normally find on your typical compact camera. You can even add a fisheye or tele converter. We think they are quite expensive and you even have to purchase the adaptor separately. Images are good, they excel in terms of colour reproduction, with detail not as good as it could be. We also struggled to take a decent panorama shot. If you're looking for a camera to withstand the extreme conditions, the TG-1 won't disappoint, if you have the budget.

  The Olympus Tough TG-1 is a feature-packed camera for photographer with a very active lifestyle.

Olympus Tough TG-1 Pros

Extremely rugged
LED Illuminator
GPS & Electronic Compass
Good amount of rubber grip
Bright f/2.0 lens
Solid, metal body
Images have excellent colour reproduction

Olympus Tough TG-1 Cons

Panorama images don't stitch together very well
Zoom range is quite limited
Extra accessories are expensive


Olympus Tough TG-1 Specifications

Max Aperturef/2 - f/4.9
35mm equivalent25mm - 100mm
Optical Zoom4x
Image Sensor
Pixels12Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)3968
Pixels (H)2976
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution610,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest1/4sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Spot
  • ESP Light Metering
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLI-90B Lithium-Ion Battery
Battery Life (CIPA rating)No Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsLI-90B Lithium-Ion Battery, F-2AC AC Adapter, CB-USB6 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Hand Strap, World Wide Warranty Card, Image Management Software

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Photographs taken using the Olympus Tough TG-1

Bavariaunder waterlandscape under seaDawn dogRussian IconA quick beach showerOld Church Bell TowerSunset in TobagoParallel Worlds

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18 Oct 2012 11:59PM
After drowning my first Panasonic in a stream and having to clean dirt / fluff from the sensor of it's replacement - and severely testing the ruggedness of both with numerous scratches and dents, I decided I needed something waterproof, shockproof, dustproof (+ freezeproof for a future Antarctic trip). I read loads of reports and decided on the Olympus TG1.
I'm not an expert on cameras, not even an enthusiastic amateur, so my report isn't in any way technical, just my observations after using the TG1 for a week's walking and exploring in very mixed weather.
I like the extra weight of this camera, it helps keep it steady when it's windy.
I liked not having to worry about it getting wet - and if it goets a bit of dirt on it, just rinse it off.
Being able to take photos in poor lighting that had my Lumix struggling, was great.
The 4x Optical + 4x Digital zoom is fine for my needs. The quality of photo on my 16x optical zoom Lumix was no better and any use of the digital zoom beyond that affected the quality.
The flash is very good over some distance.
The Macro and super-macro is fun, getting in VERY close.
I tried out most settings I could find and everything seemed to work well and the "magic" settings were fun to try out, especially the fisheye and dramatic settings.
The "scene" settings were good, but the camera always seemed to pick the right settings on "auto" anyway.
Loved the "panoramic" - having the camera do all the work of stitching the shots together for me...but it did get confused when confronted with scenes with lots of plain sky or water. It was great with hills / valleys etc.
I tried out the rapid-fire settings and they seemed as though they'd be useful for anything moving quickly, with the f2.0 lens helping a lot.
One niggle was the camera was easy to accidentally switch on when putting it into its case or a pocket - very sensitive on/off switch.
I gave the GPS system a good try-out and the location of any photos I took that had the coordinates on them, were easily found once the coordinates had been entered into Google Earth. These were often accurate to within 10m.
I tried the GPS tracking and had mixed results. I did two (8 & 6 mile) walks with the tracking switched on to 1min and auto. The 1 minute setting pretty near followed my exact route when loaded onto Google Earth, with a few exceptions where the location was up to a couple of hundred metres out. On the "auto" setting, the route was again very accurate, except for two readings where the GPS showed on Google Earth that I had been in Greece, rather than the Yorkshire Dales. So, the GPS is fun, but needs to be watched carefully.
The HD video format of 1080 shows that I should get around 1hr 40 mins of recording on a 16gb SDHC card. On my Lumix tz8, I would get under 10 mins - so that's very pleasing.
I had been concerned at the battery life after reading some reports, so I bought a spare (non Olympus) battery and used it first. From that first charge, I took around 250 still photos, 5 mins or so of HD video and tracked with the GPS on for about 12 hours. I think that's pretty good.
I love this little camera, but I'll hang onto the Lumix as well, it's just that little bit better in most areas.

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