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Olympus Stylus TG-2 review

Ben Pitt
6 Jun 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
314
inc VAT

A rugged, waterproof camera with some useful tricks for macro and low-light photography

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Specifications

1/2.3in 11.8-megapixel sensor, 4.0x zoom (25-100mm equivalent), 230g

Rugged, waterproof cameras are ideal for all sorts of occasions, from extreme sports to the beach to boozy nights out. However, underneath all that protection, their lenses and sensors tend to be fairly ordinary. Olympus's TG-2 looks more promising. Its 12-megapixel back-illuminated sensor bodes well for keeping noise at bay. The f/2 lens gathers lots of light, reducing noise even further when shooting in gloomy conditions. These are the kinds of specifications we're more used to seeing on cameras designed for photography enthusiasts. Could this camera deliver the best of both worlds?

Olympus Stylus TG-2

This supremely sensible looking camera, has spawned this ...

Olympus Stylus TG-2

... quite possibly the most ridiculous promotional shot we've seen of late

The design is suitably butch but there aren't many concessions for keen photographers. The mode dial includes an aperture-priority mode, but there's not much chance of playing with depth-of-field effects with a small 1/2.3in sensor. Shutter-priority and manual modes would have been more useful for controlling motion blur, but are absent from the mode dial. Instead, there are scene presets and creative filters, plus two Custom positions that allow various parameters to be saved and recalled quickly – perfect for switching between underwater and beach modes. The Super Macro mode can focus just 1cm from the lens, even when zoomed right in. This gives a truly microscopic view, with objects just 5mm wide filling the frame. It wasn't easy getting good results in this mode but we had lots of fun trying.

Olympus Stylus TG-2

This close-up of a peacock feather demonstrates the power of the TG-2's remarkable Super Macro mode

GPS is built in, but there's no power management so the camera stops tracking its position when it's switched off. It was quick to get its bearings again when we hadn't moved far from the previously tagged location, but after longer journeys it took up to 10 minutes to get a satellite lock.

Olympus Stylus TG-2

It's a fast performer, starting up in just over a second and capturing a photo every 0.8 seconds. Continuous shooting was fast at 5.3fps, and kept going for 26 frames before slowing slightly to 4.2fps. It can also take 100 3-megapixel shots at 15 or 60fps. These impressive turns of speed are perfect for action photography. Slow motion video is available too, but the resolution is limited to a disappointing 640x480 pixels.

Olympus Stylus TG-2

Normal-speed videos are at 1080p and 30fps, and picture and sound quality are generally up to scratch. The autofocus was sometimes slow to respond, though, and adjusting the optical zoom caused the picture to judder. The left microphone is located near the corner of the camera, and listening back to our video clips, it was clear that we had often accidentally covered it with a finger.