Olympus has announced its latest Tough camera, the TG-5. Following the family of Tough cameras before it, the new Olympus model is everything you expect it to be. There are chunky lines, exposed bolt heads, locks on all the flaps and so on.
Such are the hallmarks of a tough cameras, looking to offering something in the compact camera space that you can't do with your waterproof smartphone. Those mini computers have cannibalised the compact camera market, doing away with the need to carry another thing in your pocket.
The result is a camera that will withstand the sort of abuse that will make your phone baulk; but a camera that's also perfectly savvy when dealing with your smartphone. It's a connected wonder: not only will it let you connect your phone via Wi-Fi, giving you a live viewfinder and complete remote control, but also letting you share your images to social networks through your phone.
That's not the only connectivity that the Tough TG-5 offers. It also has a complete set of "field sensors". The addition of GPS isn't something new as it was on the TG-4, the previous model, but this version adds in a lot more data. There's a manometer, digital compass and thermometer too. You'll know exactly what the conditions were like when you snapped that action photo.
The camera can do a little more, as it will also offer to log your data even when it is switched off (offering a day and a half of logging) so that if you're out on a trek, you'll be able to see where you went, not just where you took photos.
Of course photography and videography is what this camera is really all about. The design has evolved slightly based on user feedback. There's now a slightly more pronounced handgrip on the right-hand side, allowing a little more purchase for those wearing gloves. There's also now a locking ring on the front lens, so if you attach any of the accessories, like the macro ring light for example, then you'll know it's secure.
Olympus has put a new imaging processor and sensor in this camera, but retained the f/2.0 lens of the previous model, which offers a 4x optical zoom. It sits in the housing, safe behind the double-glazed front which will prevent fogging in rapidly changing conditions - so it's now not a problem when you step off the piste into that warm mountain gasthaus.
The sensors drops down to 12-megapixels, with Olympus pursuing better low light performance over the TG-4's 16-megapixel sensor. The imaging processor has been lifted from Olympus' top OM-D camera, so here you'll find the TruePic VIII hardware that again aims to give you faster shooting and better quality pictures.
We're impressed with the macro focusing skills of this camera. Although it's a pre-production model and we're not able to share any photos we took with it, we found it focused extremely close to objects, which is a good start.
One of the enhancements is the introduction of 4K video at 30fps, alongside a full HD option that gives you 120fps for your slow motion action shots.
The action credentials speak for themselves: 15 meters waterproofing, which can be extended to 45m with the optional housing, it's crush proof withstanding 100kg, drop proof and good down to -10 degrees.
For those who do shoot underwater, there's a selection of underwater shooting modes, including a special underwater HDR option; you'll find the normal selection of modes and Art Filters on offer, all controlled via the menu and the dial on the back.
Manual shooters don't get full control, but you can control the aperture and manage the ISO settings thanks to a second dial on the top. The f/2.0 lens isn't constant, so as you zoom you'll lose the benefit of that bright lens, but that's not so uncommon on this type of camera.
First impressions of the menu system suggest that it's not the most simple out there and changing some of the settings can take a little digging around. Exactly how this will work when wearing gloves or with wet hands we can't be sure.
But overall, we like the solid design of this camera. We can't judge exactly what the quality of the images will be like until it goes on sale in June; it will cost £399 and come in black or red. The red version which is the more exciting will initially be a John Lewis exclusive in the UK.
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