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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Olympus TG-2 First Looks

Wouldn't it be great to have a camera that you can always carry with you and use wherever you go? It sounds simple enough, but with their delicate and sometimes fragile components, particularly the lens, cameras aren't always the best travellers. Many of us have learnt the hard way that water, dust, sand and cameras do not mix.

The Olympus Tough range have built an excellent reputation for taking knocks and bumps in their stride, and their new flagship model for 2013, the TG-2, is even tougher. 

Tough Enough
Most camera vendors have at least one rugged model in their range and we’ve seen a slew of new models announced already this year. Whilst most models offer dust, water, freeze and shock resistance; the latter meaning they can withstand a drop onto a hard surface from a height of around 1.5 – 2 metres, the TG-2 adds crush proofing too. Whilst we were reluctant to test it, it can  withstand being subjected to the crush of weights up to 100kg being placed upon it, which makes it among the most durable models we’ve seen. 

The camera is dustproof, freezeproof to -10⁰ and shockproof when dropped on hard surfaces from heights of up to 2.1 metres. 

Water Baby
The TG-2 can be submerged to depths of up to 15m, whilst four dedicated underwater scene modes help you get the best results. These include a snapshot mode for use by the beach or in a pool, two named Wide1 and Wide2 which are designed for underwater landscapes and action scenes respectively. There’s also a macro mode, and using any of the underwater scene modes also activates the underwater white balance, to ensure the shots are correctly colour balanced. 

If you think that four modes just for underwater shooting could leave you a little confused, then don’t worry. Olympus include a detailed description of each mode and an image to illustrate the effect, which is very handy.

Fast Lens
One of the standout features of the TG-2 is the lens. The 4x zoom provides a versatile range, whilst the maximum aperture is an impressive f/2. This allows you to capture sharp, blur-free images in low light or when shooting handheld. Newly added for 2013 is a dedicated Aperture Priority mode, which provides full control over depth of field to capture portraits with natural looking background blur, for example. 

Super Macro
Another new feature is the Super Macro mode. This allows you to focus on subjects just 1cm from the lens and then zoom in to enlarge the image up to 4x using optical zoom, or up to 8x with no discernible loss of image quality using Super-resolution Zoom. 

Track Where You've Been
The TG-2 includes built-in GPS tracking, which allows you to capture your exact location. You can customise the display settings to include the Country or Region, State or Province, City and even local landmarks. A built in electronic compass can also show which direction you’re facing and the proximity of other interesting sites. The TG-2 also has a built-in manometer which will display the current altitude or water depth, and will warn you when you reach a depth of 12m, should you wish, or when you exceed the 15m operating depth of the camera.

Other Features
Using the camera is an enjoyable experience. The autofocus is responsive and accurate, whilst the large 7.6cm (3”) display gives a detailed view of your subject or your captured images or movies. The menu is well organised, and there’s useful prompts to guide you through the settings. 


Movies can be recorded in Full HD and at 120fps in HD or using the 240fps high speed movie mode for dramatic slow-motion playback of action scenes. 

The TG-2 sits comfortably in the hand, with the buttons within easy reach. There’s a dedicated video recording button, two custom shootings modes that will retain your preferred settings, whilst the HDMI connection allows quick and easy playback on a TV. It feels solid and well built, with the battery door and cable connection covers both well sealed and featuring locks. Overall, the TG-2 is a camera than can capture brilliant results and feels solid enough to take anything life will throw at it. That, of course, is the whole point of a rugged camera, but with the TG-2, there’s that real peace of mind that it will get the shots you want, come what may. 

Conclusion
The TG-2 is superb new flagship of the Olympus Tough range. It’s raised our expectations of what a rugged camera should do, delivering brilliant stills and movies thanks to an array of powerful features. 

The TG-2 is available in both red and black for just £349, stock has already arrived with us, so why not pop into our showroom to see for yourself?

Park Verdict
The new benchmark in rugged cameras, an accomplished performer in all conditions.

We Love
♥  Superb quality matched with robust construction 
♥  GPS and electronic compass record your every move
♥  Underwater white balance delivers realistic colours whilst submerged


Also Consider
Canon D20 £279, Olympus TG-830 £249, Sony TF1 £180, Fuji XP60 £179, TG-630 £169 



Jon Penney
Park Cameras


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