Competition in the tough camera arena is fiercer than ever. This year we have models from Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Pentax, Panasonic and alternatives from Olympus itself. The TG-1 is pitched as Olympus's "flagship" tough camera and we got our hands on it today for a quick play.

In the hand the Olympus TG-1 feels tough. The outer casing is plastic, as most are, but bears all hallmarks of a tough model: exposed bolts, no nonsense design, and double locking mechanisms on all the doors.

Both the connections port (housing USB and mini HDMI connections) and the battery/SD card doors have deep seals on them, so we won't question the waterproof credentials of this model.

Olympus TG-1

Our first impression is that it doesn't feel quite as nice in the hand as the Panasonic Lumix FT4, but as with most of these models (leaving the Pentax Optio WG-2 to one side) there's little real difference between them in overall design.

One sensible feature, however, is that the lens is in the centre of the front. This makes it much easier to grip the camera when wearing gloves, as you won't slap a fat finger over a corner lens.

The lens gives you f2.0 maximum aperture which, when combined with the 12-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, should make it possible to take better shots in lower light conditions than some rivals.

The buttons on the back aren't the largest, but the clever location of the dial means you can change shooting modes easily without having to enter menus and fiddle around too much. The shutter button is distinct on the top too, so gloved use shouldn't pose a problem.

Olympus TG-1

That mode dial gives you access to various shooting modes, including familiar Magic modes, and some custom options, along with the normal scene and auto modes, and a program mode, ideal for those wanting a little more control.

An interesting detail is the removable ring around the lens. This exposes a connection on to which you can attach accessories, a telephoto or wideangle adapter, both pictured in our gallery below. Olympus has provided accessories on a number of compact cameras so it's nice to see the option here too.

The 3-inch 610k-dot display on the back is nice and vibrant, although we haven't had the chance to test it outside in bright conditions or in the water, so we'll reserve judgement until we've had the camera in for a full review.

Olympus TG-1

Elsewhere the camera is packed with features. You get Full HD video capture, tap control, GPS and a compass. All that in a package that is waterproof to 12m, shockproof to 2m, crushproof to 100kg and freezeproof to -10C.

The Olympus TG-1 tough camera is priced at £359.99 and should be available in July 2012. We will be bringing you a full review of the Olympus TG-1 as soon as we get one back in the office.

And yes, if you're wondering, that's Chemmy Alcott, Olympic skier and star of Dancing on Ice. She's wonderfully friendly too. Did you know there is a goats cheese named after her?

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