New Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 iHS Adds Aperture Priority Control

2013 CES Featured News Olympus Point and Shoot Underwater

The Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS rugged, waterproof point-and-shoot, in my opinion, is the best waterproof camera ever. Olympus calls it “lifeproof,”and that’s why it’s been my constant companion this winter while I’m out playing in the snow. It’s easily accessible in a pouch on the shoulder strap of my pack and I don’t have to worry about it freezing or getting covered with snow. And the backlit CMOS sensor, iHS technology and f/2.0 lens deliver the best image quality I’ve seen yet from a waterproof camera (check out my Olympus TG-1 video to learn more). So I was very interested when I saw an updated version was being introduced this week at the CES tradeshow. What could they have done to make the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 iHS better than the TG-1? At first glance it looks like main difference between the TG-2 and TG-1 is better waterproofing (from 40 feet to 50 feet). Since I’m not a diver and the deepest I ever take a camera is about five feet under in a swimming pool, I was a little disappointed. But while comparing the TG-1 and TG-2 specs pages side-by-side I noticed a very important detail I’d missed in the press release – Olympus added an aperture priority manual shooting mode to the TG-2. Hallelujah – this is huge! With aperture priority, photographers can now really take advantage of the TG-2’s fast f/2.0 aperture for shallow depth-of-field portraits as well as using it to control shutter speed to freeze action.

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-1 iHS Waterproof Camera

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 iHS Key Features And Specs:

  • 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS sensor
  • 4x 25-100mm f/2.0-4.9 (equivalent) optical zoom, plus 8x Super-resolution Zoom (digital)
  • Converter ring allows use of waterproof fisheye and telephoto converter lenses
  • TruePic VI image processing
  • New – aperture priority shooting mode
  • 1920 x 1080 full HD video
  • New – 120 and 240 FPS high-speed video settings
  • New – Multi-Motion Movie IS image stabilization
  • New – Microscopic Macro function increases magnification to 14x
  • 3-inch 610k-dot OLED display
  • Sensitivity: ISO 100 to 6400
  • Waterproof to 50 feet / 15m
  • Shockproof from 6.8 feet / 2.1m
  • Crushproof to 220 pounds / 100 kilograms
  • Freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit / 10 C
  • 5 frames-per-second high-speed burst at full resolution and 15 or 60 FPS at 3-megapixels
  • Built-in GPS with electronic compass and manometer / altimeter
New Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 iHS Adds Aperture Priority Control Gallery
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Olympus TG-1 Outdoor Sample - by Photo-John
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TG-2_feat

Although the aperture priority exposure control is arguably the most important update on the Olympus TG-2, there are other additions worth mentioning. Besides the increased waterproof rating, the shockproofing has also been improved so the TG-2 can handle drops of up to 6.8 feet / 2.1m (about 2.5 inches more than the TG-1). The crushproof and freezeproof ratings remain the same, at 220LBF (100KGF) and 14°F (-10°C), respectively. You can now record high-speed video with the TG-2 at 120 and 240 frames per second (I assume at reduced resolution) and Olympus improved the image stabilization for video with Multi-Motion Movie IS, which reduces camera shake caused by walking or breathing. For macro shooters, the minimum focusing distance in normal focusing mode has been reduced to a very close 3.9 inches (0.1m). That means you no longer have to change focus modes for most close-up photos. Olympus also added a new Microscopic Macro feature that increases magnification from the standard 4x optical to 14x with no reduction in image quality. I’d take the image quality claim with a grain of salt but if it works even halfway decently it will be pretty cool for super close-up photos of insects and other tiny stuff – maybe even snowflakes!

I’m really excited about the new TG-2 now that I know it has aperture priority mode. I wish it also had shutter priority, but aperture priority will get the job done, no problem. That added manual control will make a big difference in low light, for portrait photos, and shooting action. It changes the TG-2 from a point-and-shoot to something a professional can use for controlled photos. Now, if only Olympus would make a really high-end rugged compact with a full set of PASM exposure controls, a bigger sensor and RAW shooting. Please?

Olympus TG-1 Outdoor Sample - by Photo-John
Photo taken with the Olympus TG-1, which has the same sensor & lens as the new TG-2.

See All Olympus TG-1 Photos >>

The Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 iHS will be available in March – just in time for spring snow storms and the beginning of the cycling season! The suggested retail price for the TG-2 is US $379.99. If you don’t care about the improved waterproofing or aperture priority mode, check prices for the TG-1 as they should be dropping. With the same sensor and lens, the TG-1 and TG-2 are, for the most part, the same camera. But the new aperture priority shooting mode on the TG-2 will make a very big difference for my mountain bike and ski photos.

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 iHS Press Release >>
Outdoor & Waterproof Camera Guide >>


Related Content:
All Olympus Digital Camera Reviews
Olympus Digital Cameras Forum
General Digital Cameras Forum
All Olympus News
Olympus Web Site


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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of PhotographyREVIEW.com and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

View all articles by Photo-John

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  • Joel says:

    Hey John -

    Any indication of whether some of the upgraded functions could be upgraded on the TG-1 by a firmware update?

    Shoot, I’d happily give up one of the 2 custom positions on the dial for the Aperture Priority ability, if that’s possible.

    • Photo-John says:

      Good question, Joel. I am pretty sure that the high-speed video and the aperture priority mode are both software and could be upgraded via firmware. I doubt that Olympus will do this, though. They want to sell you a new camera. I think it’s possible, though.

  • Joel says:

    OK, so would you return the TG-1 and wait for the TG-2? I got the -1 for $349. What about if the price of the -1 drops to $299 (the place I bought it does a 60 day price guarantee). Would it be worth keeping it then?

    Arrrgh! I hate it when this happens!

    • Photo-John says:

      That’s a Tough one (heh – get it?). March is a bit of a wait. Would you use the TG-1 a lot between now and then? Do you have something else you can use instead?

  • Joel says:

    I’d probably use it a fair amount, but I have my old sw770 I can use, too (my Panasonic TS-3 broke last summer; turned out to be not so tough). So between now and then, no worries if I were to go for the exchange.

    I guess it’s just a question of is it worth the hassle for the extra features… and will I really use them or am I just chasing the latest and greatest?? I hate it when this happens. I wish they just announced the TG-2 a couple of months from now when it wouldn’t even be a question!!

  • Dave says:

    Photo-John,
    I had the TG-1 but returned it because in burst mode the auto-focus was erratic. In a burst of several shots, no motion, some were in focus and some weren’t. Also had truly serious problems with lens fogging (shooting surf shots while sitting on surfboard). Any evidence that either of those issues has been resolved? I loved everything else about the camera, but it was too hard to get a good action shot with these limitations. Too few keepers.

    • Photo-John says:

      Dave-
      I don’t believe there would be any changes with respect to lens fogging or auto focus. However, I’d like a little more information on your technique. Are you using continuous auto focus? Because I wouldn’t. In my experience, there’s no P&S camera with continuous AF that will actually work for shooting sports. The only technique that works is prefocusing to lock the focus, and then shooting a burst. I’m not sure about the fogging since I don’t shooting surfing. However, if you keep the camera in the water so it stays cold (assuming the water is cold), then you shouldn’t have a problem. It’s when the camera changes temperature quickly that you end up getting lens fogging. I avoid it skiing by keeping the camera in a pouch on my backpack shoulder strap so the camera stays cold.

  • Dave says:

    Thanks, John.
    I don’t normally use continuous auto-focus, but I can’t swear I didn’t.
    There’s no way to keep a constant temp since I’m always ducking under waves. My old Canon D10 was much better about the fogging, but had anemic zoom and no burst worth mentioning.
    Maybe the TG-x would be better in Hawai’i.
    I have to admit I was also disappointed with IQ. I have a Pentax K-5 and a Pany FZ150, and honestly there are some shots that if I haven’t seen them for awhile I really can’t tell at first which camera I used. The TG-1 was far below the FZ150 in terms of IQ. It was also far below the ZS15. If only one of those were waterproof! I wish the “tough” camera makers would stop worrying about things like WiFi and just put in a decent sensor system. Cameras like the FZ150 and the ZS15 prove it can be done witha small sensor.

    • Photo-John says:

      Where do you live, Dave? I’m just wondering about the water temps. I know someone in Costa Rica who keeps complaining about his Nikon AW100 lens fogging. Since I don’t often shoot in the water and don’t shoot surfing at all, I don’t have any insight to share on this subject.

      I agree about the image quality. I wish it was better. I wish someone would make a rugged camera with a 1-inch sensor and RAW shooting. I’ve mentioned this to Olympus a few times recently. Maybe they’ll listen. I am psyched that they made this camera with a fast lens and that it now has manual exposure control. I’ve also found that if I don’t pixel peep, the image quality is very usable. At normal print sizes in good light, I think it’s actually very good. Just don’t compare to your K-5 – that’s my advice :-)

  • Joel says:

    Well, I couldn’t take it. I got a return authorization (thanks, Crutchfield – very easy; great customer service) and once my refund processes, will turn around and pre-order the TG-2 from them.

    I was waiting to see if prices dropped but so far, nope; in fact, they went back up to full MSRP and have held there. Had they dropped to $299, it would have been a tough call. Wonder if they sold all the first run? Crutchfield already has discontinued the -1.

    Looking forward to the aperture mode and messing around with some high speed video!

    If I get it now, I won’t be upset when the -3 comes out a year from now with RAW! :D

  • Joel says:

    Got the TG-2 in my grubby mitts today. So far, so good. In the box is the standard stuff, plus the other color lens ring. I ordered red (figured if I drop in in the water, I want something that stands out against the bottom of a lake or pond!) and it comes with the black ring installed and the red one in the box. I kept the black on on.

    Aperture mode is nice, but not a true, full A mode. You get a choice between 3 apertures: the smallest, the widest and one in the middle. And it’s based on your focal length, of course. You don’t get f2.0 zoomed in. But it gives you some nice flexibility that wasn’t there before.

    The super macro mode is amazing. I’ve messed around with it and got some very interesting images already. The only problem is at full zoom, holding the camera still is tough… even too much for the IS to help much! And if you’re trying to take picture of, say, someone’s hair, their movement combined with the camera makes it damn near impossible!! But perseverance pays off and wow, can you get some very cool stuff!!

    I took a couple of sunset type shots and they were a bit noisy. I need to get out in some good light to see how it does there and play with the various modes.

    So far, though, I like it. And, of course, I need to do some messing around with the new high rate video modes, too!

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