Still the Undisputed King Of MacroThe Olympus TG-5 carries on with probably the coolest feature ever for an underwater camera, microscope mode. Think of it as super macro on steroids. Olympus TG-5 has the highest reproduction ratio out of ANY camera currently on the market. With this camera, there is no subject too small to shoot.
Snappy Autofocus, Even in Microscope ModeAutofocus speed and accuracy was the best across the board that we camera across in any compact camera. Even with super small macro subjects and limited depth of field the camera still snapped to focus super quick. This is a big difference to using other compact cameras with external accessory macro lenses that will tend to hunt quite a bit with the small depth of field.
There's no "donut hole" in the macro capability of the camera and a macro accessory macro lens is completely unnecessary. The "donut hole" is a gap that other compact cameras have the relatively long minimum focus distance of the native lens and maximum focus distance of the lens with a macro accessory lens in front of it. This is why there are different power macro lenses on the market, for example, a +5, +10, and +15. There may be critters that are too small for the native camera lens but also too big for the macro lens. The Olympus TG-5 has no such issues and easily snaps to focus at any zoom and distance.
A strobe snoot was used for this shot of a blenny. The sharp detail in macro impressed us and rivals the detail of some mirrorless cameras.
Now Shooting 4K Video and 120p HDThe Olympus TG-5 can capture 4K 30p video, 1080 120p video which is a massive upgrade from the Olympus TG-4. Hi-speed video shot at 120p can be slowed down 4x to 30p in post for really cool ultra slow-mo effects. Combining slow motion with in-camera image stabilization, any minor wobbles from your videos will virtually disappear.
There is a new movie mode added to the camera, meaning you can adjust your quick settings just for shooting video, instead of tweaking one of the still modes like before. You can also still record from other modes, but you will have to rotate the dial to Movie Mode to shoot in 4K and high speed 1080. This also means that there is no 4K video in microscope mode which is a bummer, but not a deal breaker. It will still shoot 1080 60p in the other still picture modes, including microscope mode.
All New Sensor and Processor — Razor Sharp with Great DetailWhile not the sexiest thing to talk about, the most significant upgrade is an all new imaging sensor and processor. This new 2MP CMOS backlit sensor has much better low light performance and the images are much more detailed and noticeably sharper. We were stunned when we saw the macro images shot in microscope mode with the level of detail when zoomed in at 1:1 in Lightroom. Even wide angle images were noticeably sharper with great detail and the color right out of the box looked fantastic. The new image processor is the same as in the flagship Olympus OM-D E-M1 II. This new image processor allows a maximum shooting speed of 20fps with a Raw buffer of 14 frames and can continuously shoot jpeg images until the card is full.
With a wide angle lens, the Olympus TG-5 can shoot impressive wide angle shots with great detail, color, and sharpness.
There are some new features that certainly made it easier for more advanced shooters to excel with the Olympus TG-5. The addition of having a manual flash option is a godsend for being able to shoot rapid fire shots. Focus peaking is another advanced feature borrowed from pro-level cameras that have trickled down into the Olympus TG-5.
Focus Peaking and Manual Focus—A Must for Super MacroEven with high-resolution screens, critical focus is hard to see, especially when shooting in microscope mode with limited depth of field. Focus peaking will show areas of the image that are in focus by outlining the in-focus edges in a color of your choice. This makes it easy to see that you got that super tight macro shot in focus without having to see the actual critical focus. This is great for subjects that are in constant motion where it’s hard to see focus because it never stops moving, or for shooters whose eyes might not be able to see perfect focus. Focus peaking is only active in manual focus mode. You can now use the same advanced focusing techniques as mirrorless or SLR cameras by moving the camera in and out from your subject to see the focus peak before snapping your next shot.
Highlight and Shadow WarningsOlympus has now included highlight and shadow warnings. Highlight and shadow warnings indicate areas of the image that are either completely over or underexposed to the point of no detail being left. These warnings can be activated for live view, image playback, or both. This feature isn’t very useful in live view when shooting with a strobe because the strobe exposure is only shown after the image is taken. It really becomes useful for live view If you are shooting with video lights as you can easily judge your exposure even before taking the picture. Having this feature on image review is the primary way to judge the exposure of your image, so this is a very welcome addition.
New Top Control DialThere is a new top control dial that is contextual depending on which shooting mode you are in. This top dial is not re-programmable, but it defaults to the function you would most want for each mode. Most of the time it will be set to exposure compensation, but in aperture priority mode it will select your aperture, and when in manual focus it can be used to adjust the focus distance. This makes it much easier to adjust settings on the fly when the action picks up.
Pro Capture Mode — Time Travel to Take Pictures from the PastAnother very exciting feature and something else carried down from the flagship Olympus OM-D E-M1 II is the Pro Capture Mode. This feature is basically a pre-roll, allowing you to capture images BEFORE you take a picture. When activated, Pro Capture Mode will start buffering images upon a half-press of the shutter button. These images are not writing to the card, but are being buffered through the camera’s internal memory. When you then press the shutter button, whatever images you had buffered will also be written to the card. The idea behind this is to help capture that crucial action moment, so if you are just a split second late when some interesting subject behavior is on display you have an opportunity to still capture the shot. The major drawback to this feature is the inability to synchronize with strobes, so it has not been something we used too much on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II. Now with the Olympus TG-5 however, you can more easily use a compact video light when shooting, thus eliminating the need to worry about synchronizing due to the constant source video light.
ConclusionThis is probably the most advanced update to the Olympus Tough line of cameras we have seen yet. The list of updates is impressive — 4K video, hi-speed 1080 video, improved low-light performance, image quality of the new sensor, waterproof to 50ft without a housing, microscope mode’s insanely powerful macro, professional-level features like manual focus with focus peaking, plus much more. With its small size, top level performance, and ease of use, it’s a great camera for a primary rig or a secondary backup camera for your BC pocket or boat use.