Olympus Tough TG-1 Review

March 27, 2013 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


Announced back in 2012, the Olympus Tough TG-1 is one of the toughest Olympus cameras ever released. The 12 megapixel TG-1 is crushproof, waterproof to a depth of 12m, shockproof from heights of up to 2m, and freezeproof to -10°C; and has a 25-100mm equivalent zoom lens with a maximum aperture of f/2 at the wide-angle end. Other highlights include an integrated GPS module, Full HD movies with stereo sound, and the ability to take auxiliary lenses. The Olympus Tough TG-1 comes in silver and black and sells for £349.00/$299.99 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Over the past few years, we have reviewed a number of increasingly rugged “tough” cameras here on Photography Blog. Of late, camera manufacturers have been devoting more and more resources to this market segment – which is no wonder given the ebbing profitability of the more “traditional” digital compacts in the wake of an onslaught of continually improving camera phones. These ruggedised cameras all appeared to share one trait: for all their toughness and ability to withstand conditions that would prove lethal to a regular shooter, they tended to come with slowish and arguably mediocre lenses that prevented them from taking truly good pictures, especially in low light.

Enter the Olympus Tough TG-1 and its 25-100mm (eq.) f/2.0-4.9 lens. The maximum aperture of f/2.0 at the wide end is unusually bright for a compact camera – and doubly so for an all-weather model. And while it’s two and a half stops slower at the 100mm equivalent setting, f/4.9 is still not too bad (many compacts make do with a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or even f/6.7 at the telephoto end).

Thoughtfully, Olympus has applied a water-repellent coating to the front element of the lens to reduce the possibility of stubborn water droplets ruining your pictures when shooting away in the rain or right after taking the camera out of the water. And while the lens itself is – of course – not interchangeable, you can at least use an add-on teleconverter (TCON-T01) as well as a fisheye conversion lens (FCON-T01) with the Olympus TG-1, making it one of the more versatile compacts out there. Do note that you’ll need the optional CLA-T01 adapter to mount either of these accessory lenses. The converters have the same waterproof rating as the camera itself.

The lens boasts some serious close-up capabilities. It has a “regular” macro mode allowing you to focus down to 10cm while still being able to use the optical zoom; a super macro mode with a minimum focus distance of 1cm and the lens fixed at the 75mm equivalent zoom setting; and a super macro with LED - “S-Macro LED” - mode, which enables you to use the camera’s LED illuminator for focusing (though only for subjects that are at least 7cm from the front lens element).

Olympus TG-1 Olympus TG-1
Front Rear

The Olympus Tough TG-1 also features a sensor-shift image stabilisation mechanism, which in principle enables you to take sharp hand-held shots at shutter speeds that would otherwise be critically slow for the focal length used. Do not expect it to be as effective as the five-axis IS found in Olympus’s newer and higher-specified cameras though. Note that in quiet environments, you might hear a faint sound coming from the camera with the image stabiliser turned on.

While the TG-1 lacks a “proper” hand-grip, the front plate has a sizeable rubberised area with a raised ridge that provides for a surprisingly secure hold, even when shooting underwater. In fact, the entire camera feels a lot more robust in the hand than you’d think based on a cursory look at the product shots. Having said that, the Olympus TG-1 still handles much like a “traditional” digital compact. Unusually for a ruggedised camera, it even has a mode dial for quick access to the main shooting modes. These include intelligent Auto, (iAuto), Programmed Auto (P), “Super Sport,” Scene and “Magic.” You can even save your preferred settings to two custom memory banks (C1 and C2), just like on a professional camera. In light of this, it’s somewhat disappointing that the camera does not offer a manual exposure mode. The mode dial has firm detents and is thus not particularly prone to accidental bumps. If anything, the dial is a little too hard to rotate, at least with wet fingers.

Apart from the mode dial, there’s only a handful of physical controls on the Olympus TG-1. These include the on/off button and shutter release, a pair of zoom rockers, a dedicated video record button, a traditional four-way pad with centred OK button, plus playback and menu buttons. Notable by absence is any sort of direct-button access to exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity settings – unfortunately. you have to delve into the menu to modify these. As with many other Olympus compacts, there is an optional “tap control” function that allows you to perform certain operations by tapping the top, back and sides of the camera. This can come in handy when shooting underwater.

The Olympus TG-1 has a number of menus, including a Quick menu – accessible via the OK button – plus Shooting, Movie, Playback and Setup menus. In Programmed Auto, the Quick menu gives you access to the flash settings, macro, self-timer, exposure compensation, white balance, ISO sensitivity, drive mode and resolution. In the other modes, you typically get a narrower range of options to choose from. The Shooting menu is reserved for less often used (or modified) settings such as compression, image stabilisation, digital zoom, shadow adjustment, AF illumination, date stamp etc. Somewhat surprisingly, you also need to delve into this menu to set your desired focusing and metering modes.

Olympus TG-1 Olympus TG-1
Front Side

The camera’s rear screen is a generous 3” Organic LED display with a resolution of 610,000 dots. This monitor has excellent viewing angles and a good sharpness to images and text alike, but its colours are not always representative of what you’ll see after downloading your photos to a computer and viewing them on a calibrated screen.

The Olympus Tough TG-1 has a very decent movie mode. The available video resolutions range from VGA to 720p to 1080p Full HD, and you can use the optical zoom while filming. What’s more, the camera has a pair of stereo microphones on its top plate, which are capable of recording above-average quality audio. Importantly, you can also shoot movies in Macro and S-Macro LED modes, enabling you to capture tiny beings in their natural habitats – an important consideration for an “adventure” camera. The Olympus TG-1 has an HDMI out port allowing users to play back their videos on an HD TV.

The camera’s rugged credentials are among the best we’ve seen from Olympus. It’s waterproof down to depths of 12m for up to an hour, freezeproof to -10 °C, crushproof to 100kg and able to survive drops from a height of up to 2m. The battery / memory card compartment and connection ports (a multi-terminal and an HDMI connector) are protected by sturdy covers with double locks. The body is metal, and build quality is very good, as you would expect from a camera of this class. Those who wish to go deeper than the specified 12m can purchase an additional PT-053 housing which allows them to take the cameras to a depth of 45m, although it costs almost as much as the camera itself.

Olympus TG-1 Olympus TG-1
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

In use, we have found the Olympus Tough TG-1 to be faster and more responsive than any other all-weather camera from Olympus. Previous models in the Tough range tended to suffer from slow focusing and a sluggish interface – thankfully, both of these have been addressed in this model. That doesn’t mean it’s on a par with your SLR camera, of course – erratically moving subjects can still prove a challenge for the auto focus system, but that’s to be expected from a compact camera.

In terms of continuous shooting, the TG-1 does a very decent 5fps in 12-megapixel mode, with up to 60fps available at a reduced resolution. As you’d expect from an “outdoor” camera, the Olympus TG-1 features an integrated GPS module for automatic geotagging and creating GPS track logs. These track logs are stored in the GPSLOG directory on the memory card. A built-in manometer allows the camera to display the current altitude or water depth and warn you when approaching the maximum depth it’s rated for. The camera has a slimline built-in flash, which isn’t particularly powerful but surprisingly, it’s compatible with the Olympus Wireless RC Flash System.

The Olympus Tough TG-1 is powered by a proprietary lithium-ion battery which has to be charged in-camera, unless you purchase a separately sold UC-90 charger. Photos and movies are recorded on SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards. And while the camera does not feature an integrated Wi-Fi module, it’s at least compatible with Eye-Fi's wireless memory cards.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

During the test, the Olympus Tough TG-1 produced images of fairly good quality. A pixel-packed 1/2.33”-type sensor was never going to produce DSLR-like IQ, and it's clear that the camera's image processor applies some noise reduction to the images even at base ISO, which robs them of ultimate detail. Having said that, the camera produces very nice prints up to 8”x10” and a bit beyond as long as you stay below ISO 1600. The ISO 3200 setting is still usable for smaller prints and onscreen viewing, although overall saturation suffers at that point. ISO 6400 is clearly a step too far, with heavy detail smearing and a very noticeable loss of saturation. Overall, the image quality of the TG-1 is quite good for its class, and clearly a step up from its predecessors; thanks in a large part to the excellent lens.


The Olympus TG-1 has 7 sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


ISO 6400 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The lens has a 35mm equivalent focal range of 25-100mm, which is quite useful.




Images from the Olympus TG-1 tend to be a little oversharpened, probably in an effort to mask the effects of noise reduction, which often lead to a lack of fine detail. That said, you can still apply some post-capture sharpening in an image editor if you’re so inclined.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


File Quality

There are two JPEG quality settings available on the Olympus TG-1, including Fine and Normal.

12M Fine (100% Crop) 12M Normal (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The Olympus TG-1 manages to keep chromatic aberrations to a minimum but you can still run into a bit of purple fringing when shooting at the wide end or in macro mode. The crops below show what you should expect in the worst case.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)


The Olympus TG-1 has a macro and a super macro mode. In the latter, you can get as close as 1cm to your subject but as the below example demonstrates, properly lighting your subject can be difficult. To address this, the Olympus TG-1 has a super macro with LED (S-Macro LED) function, in which the built-in LED illuminator is used to light the subject. However, this mode requires that you hold the camera at least 7cm from the subject, meaning the camera cannot capture such a tight field of view as shown below.


Macro (100% Crop)


The available flash settings are Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On and Forced Off. Rather surprisingly for this class of camera, the built-in flash can also be used to wirelessly control a number of compatible flash units that are part of the Olympus Wireless RC Flash System. When used in this mode, all remote flashes need to be set to Channel CH1, Group A.

Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Fill-in - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Off - Telephoto (100mm)

Fill-in - Telephoto (100mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

The built-in flash has a red-eye reduction mode but as shown here it cannot fully eliminate the problem.


Fill-in (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The TG-1’s minimum shutter speed is 4 seconds in the Night Scene mode but in P mode, the camera will not pick a shutter speed slower than ½ second, which may be inadequate if the scene is poorly illuminated. For the shot below the camera picked a shutter speed of ½ second, aperture of f/2 and a sensitivity of ISO 400.


Night (100% Crop)

Magic Filters

There are 12 so-called “magic filters” on the Olympus Tough TG-1, accessible via a dedicated position on the mode dial. These include, Pop Art, Pinhole, Fisheye, Drawing, Watercolour, Punk, Sparkle, Dramatic Tone, Soft Focus, Reflection, Miniature and Fragmented.

Pop Art

Pin Hole


Fish Eye

Soft Focus










Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Olympus Tough TG-1 camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 19 second movie is 35.3Mb in size.

Product Images

Olympus TG-1

Front of the Camera

Olympus TG-1

Front of the Camera

Olympus TG-1

Isometric View

Olympus TG-1

Isometric View

Olympus TG-1

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Olympus TG-1

Top of the Camera

Olympus TG-1

Bottom of the Camera

Olympus TG-1

Side of the Camera

Olympus TG-1

Side of the Camera


Olympus TG-1

Side of the Camera

Olympus TG-1

Side of the Camera

Olympus TG-1

Memory Card Slot

Olympus TG-1

Battery Compartment


The Olympus Tough TG-1 is one of the most advanced “tough” cameras in the market. Its remarkable rugged credentials – waterproof to 12m, crushproof to 100kg, freezeproof to -10 °C and capable of withstanding drops from a height of 2m – are paired with a traditional design, down to the inclusion of a conventional mode dial, and an excellent 25-100mm (eq.) f/2.0-4.9 lens that allows it to stand out from the crowd.

Its image quality – while obviously not in the same league as a digital SLR or compact system camera – is definitely better than that of its predecessors, thanks in a large part to this lens. Olympus has also addressed a problem that has plagued many cameras in the Tough range, namely the slow operational and AF speed. Again, you shouldn't compare the Olympus Tough TG-1 to a DSLR, but among all-weather compacts it's clearly one of the faster and more responsive offerings.

In terms of features, it ticks almost all the boxes with a manometer, GPS, Full HD movies with stereo sound; and even offers some unexpected extras like the ability to take conversion lenses, wirelessly control compatible remote flashguns or store your settings in custom memory banks. In light of all this it's a bit of a let-down, then, that manual exposure adjustments are not supported, and there's no direct-button access to sensitivity and exposure compensation, either.

Overall though, the Olympus Tough TG-1 is a solid camera in more than one way, and one that easily earns our “Recommended” award.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 4

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Olympus Tough TG-1 from around the web.

imaging-resource.com »

The Olympus Tough TG-1 waterproof digital compact camera looks and feels like it should -- rugged and ready to take on the elements. It's also incredibly fast -- in both the bright f/2.0 lens and in autofocus, startup and shot-to-shot times, but image quality suffers a little more than we'd like, with frequent underexposure and muted colors.
Read the full review »

pocket-lint.com »

Olympus has been on the tough and waterproof camera tip for a long time now. Its range of mju and Tough cameras has often delivered in the rugged stakes, but lacked higher spec features to make for a really attractive prospect.
Read the full review »

reviews.cnet.com »

The Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS is water-, dust-, freeze-, shock-, and crushproof; has fast shooting performance for its class; and has a fast lens with the capability to add on converter lenses for more shooting flexibility.
Read the full review »

ephotozine.com »

The Tough TG-1 is the latest rugged digital compact camera from Olympus which has a 4x optical zoom f/2 lens which can also be used with special fisheye and tele converters. The converters are both priced at £129.99 with the camera priced at £309.00.
Read the full review »


Image Sensor

  • Effective pixels

    12 Megapixels

  • Filter array

    Primary colour filter (RGB)

  • Full resolution

    12.7 Megapixels

  • Type

    1/2.3'' CMOS


  • Optical zoom

    4x (WIDE)

  • Focal length

    4.5 - 18.0mm

  • Focal length (equiv. 35mm)

    25 - 100mm

  • Structure

    9 lenses / 7 groups

  • Aspherical glass elements


  • ED glass elements


  • Maximum aperture

    2.0 - 4.9

  • Filter diamater

    40.5mm Use CLA-T01 to attach conversion lens.

Digital Zoom

  • Enlargement factor

    4x / 16x combined with optical zoom

  • Super Resolution Zoom

    2x / 8x combined with optical zoom


  • Monitor type


  • Monitor size

    7.6cm / 3.0'' (3:2)

  • Resolution

    610000 dots

  • Brightness adjustment

    +/- 2 levels

  • Frame assistance


  • Protection panel


Focusing System

  • Method

    TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection

  • Modes

    • iESP
    • Face Detection AF
    • Spot
    • AF Tracking
  • Standard mode

    0.6m - ∞ (wide) / 0.6m - ∞ (tele)

  • Macro mode

    0.15m - ∞ (wide) / 0.1m - ∞ (tele)

  • Super Macro Mode

    Closest focusing distance: 1cm

  • AF illuminator


Light Metering

  • Histogram in shooting mode


  • Modes

    • ESP light metering
    • Spot metering

Exposure System

  • Shutter speed

    1/4 - 1/2000s / < 4s (Night scene)

  • Exposure compensation

    +/- 2EV / 1/3 steps

  • Enhancement function

    Mechanical Image Stabiliser

  • Advanced Face Detection Technology

  • Shadow Adjustment Technology

  • Pet Detection

  • Modes

    • i-Auto
    • Programme automatic
    • Low light
    • Magic Filter
    • Scene Modes
    • Super Sports
    • Custom 1
    • Custom 2
    • Movie

Scene Modes

  • Number of scene modes


  • Modes

    • Portrait
    • Beauty
    • Landscape
    • Night Scene
    • Night Scene with portrait
    • Indoor
    • Candle
    • Self-portrait
    • Sunset
    • Fireworks
    • Cuisine
    • Documents
    • Beach and Snow
    • Underwater Snapshot
    • Underwater Wide 1
    • Underwater Wide 2
    • Underwater Macro
    • Pet (cat)
    • Pet (dog)
    • Snow
    • Panorama
    • 3D
    • Backlight HDR

Magic Filter

  • Types

    • Pop Art
    • Pin Hole
    • Fisheye
    • Drawing
    • Soft Focus
    • Punk
    • Sparkle
    • Water colour
    • Reflection
    • Miniature
    • Fragmented
    • Dramatic


  • Auto

    AUTO / High AUTO

  • Manual

    ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400

White Balance

  • AUTO WB system


  • Preset values

    • Overcast
    • Sunlight
    • Tungsten
    • Underwater
    • Flourescent 1
  • One-touch white balance

    1 custom settings can be registered

Internal Flash

  • Modes

    • AUTO
    • Red-eye reduction
    • Fill-in
    • Off
  • Working range (wide)

    0.15 - 5.6m (ISO 800)

  • Working range (tele)

    0.1 - 2.2m (ISO 800)

External Flash Control

  • Wireless flash control


Sequence Shooting

  • Sequential shooting mode (high speed)

    60fps / 100 frames (in 3MP mode)

  • 15fps / 100 frames (in 3MP mode)

  • Sequential shooting mode

    5fps / 25 frames (Full Image Size)

Image Processing

  • Pixel mapping


  • Noise reduction


  • Engine

    TruePic VI

  • Distortion compensation


  • Shading compensation


Image Editing

  • Resize


  • Trimming


  • Correction of saturation


  • Beauty Fix


  • Red-eye reduction


  • Shadow Adjustment


View Images

  • Modes

    • Single
    • Index
    • Zoom
    • Slide show
    • Event
    • Photo Surfing
  • Index

    5 x 4 frames

  • Zoom

    Yes 1.1 - 10x

  • Auto rotation


  • Image protect mode


  • Histogram in playback mode


View Movie

  • Modes

    • Frame by frame
    • Fast forward
    • Reverse playback

Still Image Recording

  • DCF


  • EXIF


  • PIM


  • DPS


  • DPOF


Movie Recording System

  • Recording format

    QuickTime Motion JPEG®

  • Image Stabilisation Mode

    Multi-motion Movie IS

  • HD Movie quality

    1080P Recording time: 29min.

  • 720P Recording time: 29min.

  • Movie quality

    VGA Recording time: Up to card capacity

  • QVGA Recording time: Up to card capacity

  • Note: maximum file size 4GB

  • When shooting 1080P/720P movies, use SDHC / SDXC class 6 or higher.

  • Magic Filter

    • Pop Art
    • Pin Hole
    • Fisheye
    • Drawing
    • Soft Focus
    • Punk
    • Water colour
    • Reflection
    • Miniature
    • Dramatic

Sound Recording System

  • Voice playback


  • Sound recording

    Yes , format: PCM

  • Internal microphone


  • Image footage


  • Speaker



  • Removable Media

    SD / SDHC / SDXC (UHS speed class not supported)

  • Internal memory


  • Eye-Fi Card compatible


Image Size

  • 12M

    3968 x 2976

  • 8M

    3264 x 2448

  • 5M

    2560 x 1920

  • 3M

    2048 x 1536

  • 2M

    1600 x 1200

  • 1M

    1280 x 960

  • VGA

    640 x 480

  • 16:9

    3968 x 2232

  • 1920 x 1080


  • Menu languages in camera


Other Features

  • Shock resistant

    Shock-proof from heights of up to 2m *

  • Waterproof

    Waterproof up to a water pressure equivalent to 12m depth **

  • Freezeproof

    Freezeproof up to -10°C ***

  • Crushproof

    Crushproof up to 100kg ****

  • Dustproof


  • Scratchproof


  • Tap Control


  • Manometer


  • GPS


  • Electronic compass


  • Perfect Shot Preview


  • Panorama function

    In-Camera Panorama

  • Self timer

    2 / 12s Pet auto shutter

  • Menu guide


  • Photo Surfing


  • Date imprint


  • LED Illuminator


  • * Equivalent to MIL Standard (Olympus test conditions)

  • ** According to IEC standard publication 529 IPX8

  • *** According to Olympus test conditions

  • **** According to IEC standard publication 529 IPX6

  • SNS upload


Customisation Options

  • My Mode

    2 settings storable

Power Supply

  • Battery

    LI-90B Lithium-Ion Battery

  • Internal Charging



  • HDMI™

    Yes Micro connector (Type D) *

  • DC input


  • Combined A/V & USB output


  • USB 2.0 High Speed


  • * "HDMI", the HDMI logo and "High-Definition Multimedia Interface" are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC.


  • Dimensions (W x H x D)

    111.5 x 66.5 x 29.1mm

  • Weight

    230g (including battery and memory card)


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