Olympus TG-850 Review

November 20, 2014 | Matt Grayson | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

Noise

Noise levels at ISO 125 are non-existent. Edges are sharp and there's not even any black & white noise (salt & pepper). In fact, noise doesn't really start to show until ISO 400 and even then it's only minor amounts of distortion that can be seen at full magnification. By ISO 800, it has become a little more obvious and noise reduction is clearly at work, smoothing out the colours to eradicate colour noise. Mid-tones and highlights are still unaffected and while noticeably changing, sharp edges are still pleasing.

ISO 1600 is where it all changes with big drop in image quality. Noise starts interfering a bit too much and as well as the darker areas getting the sharp end of the noise stick, sharp edges are starting to be less defined and a bit wobbly.

Small, detailed areas of colour are obliterated and unusable at ISO 3200. Noise overwhelms all areas of the photograph. To the camera's credit; it takes getting to ISO 6400 for obvious blobs of colour to run through the photograph. Despite the issues presented here, the noise performance of the TG-850 is very good. This must be credited to the back-illuminated sensor, wide-angle lens (as it will let more light in) and the dedicated TruePic VII processor.

There are 7 ISO settings available on the Olympus TG-850. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

 
iso6400.jpg  

Focal Range

The Olympus Tough TG-850 has a 5x optical zoom which starts at 21mm and zooms out to a modest 105mm. There's an amount of barrel distortion at wide-angle but not as much as we expected to see.

21mm

105mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

Although we only used a standard sharpening amount in order to test the JPEG files, we found that, while very sharp on there own, the TG-850 does benefit from a little boost in an editing suite. However, if there's a lot of noise in the picture, this can have a tendency to exacerbate and reduce the overall quality of viewing.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

Should you decide to free up some space on your memory card, you can opt to adjust the compression of the resolution. You can choose between High and Normal. In our test, the High setting produced an image around 6.8Mb. Knocking it down to Normal practically halved the resolution to around 3.7Mb.

16M Fine (100% Crop) 16M Normal (100% Crop)
quality_high.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

We managed to identify some chromatic aberration at the far edges of the frame. However, because of the wide-angle view of the lens, this tends to be quite distorted and blurred, so not very easy to see. You may therefore decide that it's not harsh enough to consider a problem.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

The Olympus Tough TG-850 has a Supermacro mode on its command dial which you need to switch to in order to focus down to 1cm. We found that the main issue with this mode is getting enough light between the lens and the subject. If you don't use the Supermacro mode, the closest that the TG-850 will focus to is 10cm, which isn't a useful close focusing result. However, it has to be noted that the camera can focus to 10cm even at full zoom, which is very useful for sending backgrounds out of focus.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

With the flash turned off, the camera doesn't show any obvious signs of vignetting at wide-angle or full zoom. However, it does occur when the flash is on. Certainly at wide-angle, at least. It's less so at full zoom, but on a plain white wall, it's still noticeable.

Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Fill-in - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Off - Telephoto (140mm)

Fill-in - Telephoto (140mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

We're pleased to see that the red-eye reduction system works well. A portrait with flash does produce red-eye and when red-eye reduction is switched on there is a definite reduction in the pupil.

Fill-in

Fill-in (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The TG-850 has a dedicated Night scene mode in the Scenes setting on the command dial. The advantage of using this mode is that the camera is allowed to select a longer shutter speed than when in Program mode. The latter meaning you have to select a higher ISO in order to get a balanced exposure. The camera will also assume you're resting the camera, so will choose a low ISO. Our test used a 4sec exposure, so hand holding the camera isn't an option.

Night Program

Night Program (100% Crop)

night_program.jpg night_program_crop.jpg
   

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

night_scene.jpg night_scene_crop.jpg