Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Olympus Tough TG-2 Waterproof Review

We get tough with the Olympus Tough TG-2 - the tough, waterproof camera from Olympus.

| Olympus Tough TG-2 in Compact Cameras

Olympus Tough TG-2 Waterproof Review: Olympus Tough TG-2 (3)
The Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2, to give its full name, is this years update to the Olympus Tough TG-1, and features the same bright f/2.0 4x optical zoom lens, 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, 3inch screen and tough credentials, but it is now tougher than the TG-1, waterproof to 15 metres, and slightly more shockproof from 2.1metres.

Olympus Tough TG-2 Features

Olympus Tough TG-2 Waterproof Review: Olympus Tough Tg 2

A unique feature for this camera is the ability to add fisheye and tele converter lens via an optional adapter. We tested the Olympus Tough TG-1 with the fisheye adapter in our review here.

The TG-2 has iHS Technology with modes including Low Light, Super Sports and Super Macro. There is also a 3D Photo Shooting Mode, 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).

As well as being waterproof down to 15 metres, it is also shockproof from 2.1 metres, has 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-2 Waterproof Review: Olympus Tough TG-2 (2)

Key Features

  • 12.1 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor
  • 4x optical zoom lens, f/2.0, 25-100mm equivalent
  • Sensor shift image stabilisation
  • 3inch OLED screen, 610k dots
  • Crushproof to 100kg
  • GPS & Electronic Compass
  • 1080p Full HD Movie and HDMI Control
  • High speed video 250fps
  • 5fps continuous shooting at full resolution, 60fps at 3mp
  • ISO 100-6400
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance
  • Aperture priority mode
  • HDR Backlight Adjustment
  • In-Camera Panorama
  • Manometer, Tap control, LED illuminator
  • 4:3, 1:1, 16:9, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Available in red or black

Olympus Tough TG-2 Handling

Olympus Tough TG-2 Waterproof Review: Olympus Tough TG-2 (5)

Handling - There is a good amount of rubber grip on the camera, on the front, and rear for your right hand, as well as a strip on the left of the rear screen for when you hold the camera with two hands. The camera feels extremely well built with a chunky style, and each of the openings features a dual locking system to ensure they stay closed when you are using the camera underwater.

When wet the mode dial is quite difficult to turn as it's quite small, and would benefit from additional grip. However the rest of the buttons feel large enough to use when wet.

The camera has a new aperture priority mode that lets you set the aperture, with f/2.0, f/2.8 and f/8,0 available at the wide end of the lens, and f/4.9, f/6.3, and f/18 available when fully zoomed.

Olympus Tough TG-2 Waterproof Review: Olympus Tough TG-2 (6)

Menus – The menus are clearly laid out and easy to navigate with a press of the left arrow bringing up the photo options on screen, so that you can see the changes the options make. To access the full menu options you scroll to the bottom of the list, or press the menu button, where you'll find more advanced options as well as setup options for GPS, Tough, Beauty and Custom settings.
Olympus Tough TG-2 Waterproof Review: Olympus Tough TG-2 (8)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 350 shots according to CIPA / Olympus testing. The battery is a 1270mAh rated unit, so provides a decent amount of battery life, although extended use of GPS will reduce battery life.

Olympus Tough TG-2 Waterproof Review: Olympus Tough TG-2 (7)

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

  Olympus Tough TG-2
Shutter Response <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.15
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.15
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 0.9
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.4
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.9
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5fps (25 shots)
15fps (100shots, High-speed 1, 3mp)
60fps (100shots, High-speed 2, 3mp)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 0.8

Focus and shutter response are both very good, as is switch on time and shot to shot times.

Olympus Tough TG-2 Performance

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

Olympus Tough TG-2 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Colour is good with the camera giving reliable exposure. There is some red-eye in the portrait photo, although wasn't noticed in other portrait shots with flash. Using the HDR backlight scene mode, the camera takes a number of shots and combines them into one with extended dynamic range, although unfortunately it's reduced to 3 megapixels. Alternatively you can switch on shadow adjustment technology to keep detail in shadows.

Olympus Tough TG-2 Lens test images

Lens Performance The camera has a 1cm macro mode, which also focuses this close when using the 4x optical zoom. Lighting the subject can be an issue, and even with the LED illuminator it's difficult to correctly illiminate the subject, ideally there would be another LED light on the other side so that both sides of the subject are lit. The Sony LEDs surrounding the lens are much better at lighting this kind of close macro shot, although in good light the results are impressive. Additional macro shots are available in the Equipment Database.

Detail is reasonably good for a camera with internal folded optics, although corners are slightly soft, and purple fringing was noticeable in the shot of the trees above, as well as some chromatic aberration. The camera does a good job of controlling barrel and pincushion distortion, with no real issues spotted.

Olympus Tough TG-2 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO100 and ISO200, with a slight increase in noise at ISO400. At ISO800 detail starts to become lost, and more so at ISO1600. Noise is dominant at ISO3200, and this setting and above is best avoided.

Olympus Tough TG-2 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a slightly warm result under tungsten light, with the tungsten preset giving a more neutral result. AWB performs well under fluorescent lighting with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta colour cast.

Olympus Tough TG-2 Waterproof Review: Panoramic | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100
Panoramic | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100

Panorama mode - The panoramic mode doesn't manage to stitch photos together as well as other cameras, and stitches three photos together.

Olympus Tough TG-2 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The camera has a number of magic filters, as shown above, giving some creative options.

Video - The camera records full HD video with stereo sound, and optical zoom is available while recording, as well as a built in wind-filter. During the underwater video you can hear the lens focusing which is picked up by the camera's microphones and is quite loud. Similarly when using the optical zoom, the noise of the lens is picked up by the camera, as can be heard in the video below.

Value For Money

The Olympus Tough TG-2 is available for around £289 which makes it decent value for money, although the only other camera with such a bright f/2.0 lens is the Pentax WG-3 GPS. Other cameras with similar waterproof features include the following:

Olympus Tough TG-830, 10m waterproof, GPS, £210
Fujifilm FinePix XP200, 15m waterproof, Wi-Fi, £220
Nikon Coolpix AW110, 18m waterproof, Wi-Fi, GPS, £249
Canon Powershot D20, 10m waterproof, GPS, £263
Panasonic Lumix FT5, 13m waterproof, Wi-Fi, GPS, £293
Sony Cyber-shot TX30, 10m waterproof, £299
Pentax WG-3 GPS, 14m waterproof, GPS, £319

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-2 Verdict

The Olympus Tough TG-2 is a rugged compact camera with full Hd video recording, a bright f/2.0 lens, and an extremely impressive macro mode. The camera gives some level of manual controls with a new aperture priority mode. Images are good, with excellent colour reproduction, although detail is not as good as it could be. We also struggled to take a decent panorama shot. We were also disappointed by the lens noise picked up during video recording. The camera responds quickly, and has 5fps continuous shooting at full resolution. Rather uniquely the camera can also use a fish-eye or 1.7x telephoto convertor lens giving additional shooting options. If you are looking for a tough waterproof camera, and would like to have the option to expand your kit with adapters, or love taking close up macro photos, then the Olympus Tough TG-2 is recommended.

  Olympus Tough TG-2 Waterproof Review:
  The Olympus Tough TG-2 is an tough waterproof camera with excellent colour, and an extreme close-up macro mode.

Olympus Tough TG-2 Pros

Good colour reproduction
Fast focus and performance
2 year warranty
Added aperture priority mode
Excellent macro mode
Extremely tough
Magic filters
Availability of lens adapters
Bright f/2.0 lens

Olympus Tough TG-2 Cons

Panorama images don't stitch together very well
Macro mode would benefit from better illumination
HDR mode limits images to 3mp
Noise of lens focusing and zooming in videos


Olympus Tough TG-2 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
  • 3:2
  • 1:1
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)350shots
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-2

Fill the frameAmerican burying beetleColor CombosGrevillea flowerSucculent FlowerCoffee BreakBo-Kaap in Cape Town, South AfricaJust PaintZebra CrossingAutumn Splash (2)Natures DefenceNeedle ArtCurvesTextures in Nature

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Dr_Brad Avatar
Dr_Brad 10
19 Jun 2013 9:28PM
Thanks for the review. I look forward to giving this camera a try. Not perfect, but to expect that in waterproof point and shoot would be unrealistic. You might want to edit the first sentence under "Value for Money." It currently reads "The suchand such camera is available for around....." Ah templates. I've made similar oversights! Smile
joshwa Avatar
joshwa Plus
13 927 1 United Kingdom
20 Jun 2013 8:42AM
Thanks for the comment, we have corrected the error, cheers Josh Smile

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