Sunday, February 16, 2014

Olympus TG-2 iHS Review

* Splash into water! *

How often we seen serious underwater or rugged camera around? Well Olympus is very serious on this and they done well on what they are doing. Courtesy to Olympus Malaysia, I am given chance to review the Olympus TG-2 iHS. I have to say it is one of the craziest compact camera I ever used. Underwater, rugged and super macro!



Before I go on, here some specification you should look on the Olympus TG-2 iHS :

  • 12.0 effective megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor
  • F2.0-4.9, 25-100mm lens (4X)
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • Waterproof to 15m, shockproof from 2.1m, crushproof to 100 kg, freezeproof to -10C
  • 3.0 inch OLED display with 610,000 dot resolution
  • Aperture priority mode
  • Built-in GPS with landmark tagging, compass, manometer, and logging
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • 1080/30p movie mode with stereo sound
  • Support for fish-eye and telephoto conversion lenses

* Camera top layout *
* Camera back layout *

The moment I hold the camera, I knew it is solid. It is a little bit heavier than compact nowdays but it is definitely feel solid that you wouldn't mind holding it and use. You don't need to have rocket science or genius brain to learn the button layout since it is simple and straight forward like what a compact should be. For those who love to shoot manual, at least there are Aperture priority mode with limited aperture selection only.

* Left side of the camera with double lock *
* HDMI and USB slot *
* SD slot and battery *

There are double lock on the camera battery cover and also the USB slot which enhance the security when you drop it or using it underwater. Of course, there are a layer of rubber on the cover to block the water from going into the slot. So yes, make sure everything is closed tightly before dip the camera into water!


Olympus TG-2 iHS can take accessories too from Olympus - fish-eye and telephoto conversion lenses by taking out the red ring in front.


The only thing I dislike the TG-2 so far? Definitely the OLED screen! Color are totally not accurate and contrast level are too high. I knew how much I hated the OLED since my own Olympus E-P3.

Alright I believe photos speak louder itself. So I have tested the TG-2 iHS in difference condition and you guys gonna judge it. As usual here are the disclaimer - I am not a professional photographer and my review are solely based on my own user experience. For the photos below all are SOOC and resizing it to fit into my blog.

Using Olympus TG-2 iHS underwater

So yea, being a rugged and underwater capable camera, an underwater test is a must! Unfortunately I can't swim and I don't have volunteer model for me to shoot underwater. Hence, I take a quick shot in my house aquarium. With fishes of course.



Next, I took a container and throw some random object into it with water and begin shooting. Note that it is indoor environment.




Still, I felt that I couldn't replicate real world underwater scene. Without hesitating, I brought the container to outdoor, with a hot sun burning the land and tadaaa..It look like the scene in my head LOL








Shooting underwater/inside water with the TG-2 doesn't feel much difference than shooting at normal situation. The auto focus work very fast and accurately. My only regret was I can't bring the camera and experience true underwater shooting. Well, I believe there are a tones of reviews and samples at Google. I did a quick video as well in and out water using the TG-2.

Using Olympus TG-2 iHS as Macro shooter (product)

I enjoy shooting product and I always wonder how cool it is if I owned a macro lens to do it. Unfortunately I never enjoy macro shooting since it is about patient and patient and patient despite how much I love shooting product (Hence, I only rely on my Olympus 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 II). I am trying to use the TG-2 to do some product shooting solely on Super Macro mode. For your information, the TG-2 Super Macro allowed you to shoot as close as you can. Literally slap the whole camera into your object and shoot. Alright for this test, I am using 1 LED lighting to assist me.










Personally, I think it is great since the super macro mode can really shoot very close up! If any of the photos look bad it is not because of the camera, but is because my skill and knowledge in controlling lighting and composition sucks. The TG-2 is definitely lack of dynamic range due to small sensor. It would be great if this camera can shoot RAW.

Using Olympus TG-2 iHS on daily life

I believe TG-2 can do more than being a underwater camera. What if I use it in daily life? How about low light capability?









Notice that the color rendered like just what a Olympus camera should be? I am very pleased of the result.

* A good way to show off the super macro in TG-2. RM1 note shot! *





For extreme low light testing, I grab the opportunity to use the camera at ChurpChurp CNY outing with Tiger Raddler last weekend at GAB. Manage to push the camera to ISO limit 3200. Ok lemme convert this little review into a quick post for the ChurpCNYouting X)

* and I won RM5 from this LOL *
* Churpies! *
* New badges! *
* Tiger Raddler - ISO 640 *
* Friends - ISO 800 *
* With Ryan - ISO 800 *
* Lion dance - ISO 3200 *
* Lion dance - ISO 3200 *
* Lion Dance - ISO 800 with flash *
* Mandarin Orange - ISO 800 flash off *
* Ryan on stage for game - ISO 800 *
* Group photo for winner - ISO 400 *
* Yeeing & Ryan - ISO 800 *
* Your truly and Pei Li - ISO 100 with flash *

Obviously, the camera barely do well on ISO 800. This is something unavoidable for camera with small sensor. So, use the flash when it is really needed which I think it ain't that bad. Personally I love to set the flash as fill in mode. It would be great if the flash has rear mode...

Here some video taken on that day.


Overall, Olympus TG-2 iHS one of the best rugged and waterproof camera I ever use. The f2 lens on wide angle do help alot in low light unless it is really extreme dark and you're shooting moving subject. Color are great on daylight and super macro is one of the best features in TG-2. The only thing I would complain are the image are slightly soft with mushy details, dislike OLED screen, 'tap control' feature can be annoying sometime when accidentally tap it, no multi point for AF and lack of rear flash mode.

The Olympus TG-2 can starts up in less than a second, focuses extremely quickly even in low light and has minimal delays between shots. Photo quality isn't fantastic but it's more than good enough for purpose and target audience. At low ISOs, both luminance noise and detail smudging are noticeable though that's par for the course on compacts. Photos taken at sensitivities as high as ISO 800 are usable for most purposes, with the two highest settings saved for desperation only.