Olympus TG5 Underwater Review

Olympus TG5 Underwater Review

Lots Of Upgrades For The Olympus TG5 But Do They Work?

Local Dive Thailand had a bit of a break from Phuket diving and took the new Olympus TG5 for a trip to Komodo. Plenty of upgrades and new features to be tried out. Should have brought the manual really…

Olympus TG5 Macro To Start

A gentle macro dive to start the trip. The macro capabilities of the TG series has always been great for a compact and still remains the same. If you’re not a smartarse and read the manual you’ll find out that the flash in the TG5 can now be adjusted manually. Full power is extremely bright. The first nudi I took a photo of ignited… after a brief play with settings available from the easily accessible menu it was business as usual.

Unsinged Squat Lobster TG5 Macro Mode

Unsinged Squat Lobster TG5 Macro Mode

Settings: Macro mode- 1/200s; f/6.3; ISO 200:Internal Flash 1/1.6

Microscope Mode Still Great

The microscope mode that sets this camera apart from all other compacts still remains its best feature. The autofocus speed is quick and accurate, able to focus as close as 1cm to the lense, there’s simply no subject too small for this camera. You really don’t need any additional macro lenses.

With this in mind I set off to get a photo of a minute ladybug, I failed miserably. As quick as the focus speed is for a compact the challenge of getting a shot of a minute animal sat on a soft coral that is furiously waving in the current and has an annoying habit of hopping away at the right moment was a bit too much for the camera and my patience.

Minute Candy Crab TG5 Microscope Mode

Minute Candy Crab TG5 Microscope Mode

Settings: Microscope mode- 1/500s; f/3.2; ISO 100:Video light

Wide Angle

Well widish angle, after a series of failed attempts to purchase the UWL- 04 before the trip I had to make do with a not too great Meikon dome port lense. The improved sensor and a sensible megapixel count should in theory improve the picture quality.

So after a brief scroll through the menu to adjust some settings I was good to go, or so I thought. As well as reading the manual and taking practice shots on land it’s also advisable not to take your first dives with your new camera in the ripping currents around Komodo. After analyzing the shot and making adjustments you can be in another time zone from your subject. Fortunately (in this case) there isn’t that much that you can adjust on this simple camera and the wide angle results do indeed seem to be much sharper than previous models.

Aperture priority mode as with previous models produce the best results. However we actually found that you can get some nice shots with the programme auto mode. On previous models the manual white balance was a waste of time after about 15m and the annoying NG Retry message drove me insane, at least the message has changed and it does at least try. There is a significant improvement getting a white balance at depth but it’s still not perfect.

TG5 Ambient Light Wide Angle Example

TG5 Ambient Light Wide Angle Example

Settings: Aperture priority- 1/200s; f/2.8; ISO 100: Ambient light

4K Video and 120fps In Full HD

A huge leap forward from previous models. The Olympus TG-5 can now shoot video in 4K and full HD at 120fps allowing for some very nice slow motion effects. The improved in camera stabilisation combined with slow motion makes a very smooth video.

For both of the above you have to access the new movie mode. Meaning you can’t get any of the above in macro or microscope mode but you can still go straight to Full HD with a press of a button from any mode.

Olympus TG5 Upgrades

The new top dial gives another quick adjustment option. You can only change its default designation (exposure in most modes) to manual focus. This allows you to quickly change settings without having to go through the menu excessively if you get caught by surprise.

When using manual focus you can take advantage of the focus peaking. Another feature borrowed from the high end Olympus camera’s. The area in focus will be highlighted in red or green (your choice) which makes it much easier to see if you have indeed got the subject in focus – godsend for old eyes like mine.

The new 12MP CMOS imaging sensor promises improved low light and performance and from what we’ve seen so far the images are sharper with great colour. The image processor is exactly the same as the much higher spec Olympus OM-D E-M1 II and allows a shooting speed of 20fps.

You can find details of all the specifications and upgrades here.

In A Nutshell

The Olympus TG5 is a great little compact for beginners and definitely the most advanced of the TG range. Experienced photographers can keep it in their BCD pocket and whip it out to get a macro shot if they’re using a wide angle set up on their obscenely expensive DSLR.

It would have been nice if there was a full manual mode. Considering all the new features that have been packed it to this tough camera, it’s still a great buy and let’s not forget it’s almost bullet proof.

By Justin Hartrey

I've been enjoying the incredible marine life in our oceans for over 25 years. 13 years ago I became a PADI professional in Phuket, hoping to introduce as many people as possible to the incredible beauty of the seas.

Having been fortunate enough to dive all over south east and especially Thailand, I enjoy sharing my diving experiences and passion on this blog.

Originally from Bristol in the UK, I swapped the frigid waters of the North Atlantic for the warm tropical seas around Thailand and can confidently say that I wouldn't go back

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