Brian's Photo Blog — Article 254
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Meet the Olympus TG-2 "Tough" Camera
Friday 21 June 2013   —   Category: Equipment
This is the first in a series of articles exploring the capabilities of my new Olympus TG-2 “tough” pocket camera. If you missed the other articles, you can view a list of them here.

It’s very interesting that a year ago today, on the first day of Summer, I was plunged into a great camera quandary while taking a hike at Silver Falls. At that time, the failure of my then-current camera system to meet my needs caused me to abandon that equipment and make a switch to other, more suitable gear. In the same way, I am now leaving behind another camera and making a change. In both cases, the switch was to an Olympus.


Now that my Canon S100 pocket camera is dead, I’ve been researching the options for a new pocket camera to take its place, which will not be rendered unusable by uncleanable dust on the sensor. After confirming that there is no pocketable interchangeable-lens camera, I realized that my only other option for a dust-free sensor was an environmentally-sealed, fixed-lens compact camera. After considering the various offerings from well-known manufacturers like Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Sony, and others, I eventually decided on a black Olympus TG-2 iHS.

Most of these “tough” cameras have similar features and specs, so narrowing it down to a final choice can be difficult. In the end, I liked the fact that the Olympus TG-2 looked somewhat less like a low-end consumer point-and-shoot than many of the others. I was also attracted by the ability to attach either a wide-angle or telephoto converter lens to the TG-2. This feature extends the capabilities of the camera while maintaining its environmental sealing. I’ll be sharing more about these lenses in a future article once I have had the opportunity to try them out.

I really like this promotional photo of the icy guy holding a TG-2 camera. Not only does it demonstrate the size of the camera, but it also appeals to my love for arctic-like environments. I could just see myself in a similar picture ... maybe one day! At least I now have a camera which can survive such conditions!

Of course, not everything is coming up roses. Compromise is always required when making a choice between one camera and another. It is bitterly disappointing that NONE of these “tough” cameras have RAW image capability. The overprocessed, consumer-level JPGs produced by the TG-2 (and all of the other cameras in this category) are definitely a big step backwards in image quality compared to the final results I can get out of RAW images.

I’ve already got some sample photos from the TG-2 on display. Four images in the Neighborhood 2013 album and three more pictures in the Portland Miscellaneous 2012-2013 album.

In the end, having a camera which is pocketable and dustproof was more important than image quality. For those many occasions when image quality is more important, I will be sure to use my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera. But for those other occasions when I want to be more discreet, when I am faced with a camera-unfriendly environment, or when I simply want to travel light, this new Olympus TG-2 will be just the right tool, and I’ll simply have to live with the inferior image quality.

Perhaps one day my dream will come true, and there will be a “tough” camera that supports RAW images, or else an interchangeable-lens camera which is truly pocketable. Until then, I’m hoping the TG-2 will fit the bill and meet my needs and expectations.
AUGUST 28 UPDATE — Unfortunately, after only two short months I have come to the conclusion that this camera will not work for me. For all the details, see In Quest of the Ideal Pocket Camera.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 254
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