One of three new rugged compacts on the market, alongside the Panasonic FT5 and Nikon AW110, the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 has strong competition but brings some unique features of its own to the table. It's designed to withstand similar conditions, rated for 2-metre drops, 15-metre submersions and temperatures as low as -10 centigrade.
Handy mode dial
Unlike its rivals, the TG-2 has a mode dial, which makes it quicker and easier to switch between some of the key functions, saving you the bother of clicking through too many onscreen menus. For example, a flick of the dial gets you straight into the super-macro mode, which can focus at almost microscopic proximity to tiny subjects. The main D-pad is also more tactile than those of its counterparts, and in use the TG-2 feels less compromised.
Keeping the outside out
There are two doors on the TG-2, one for the battery and memory card, another for the HDMI and USB ports. Both use a dual-catch system to avoid accidental openings, and while they served their purpose in our tests, they do need a good fingernail to be operated.
Olympus TG-2 lens
The lens is set in the middle of the camera, unusually in this class. This makes it easier to hold the camera without obscuring the lens with your fingers. It's a fairly meagre 4x zoom though, which won't get you quite as close as the Panasonic and Nikon, and if you use it in video mode you'll notice it's a bit jerky as it moves in and out.
We gave the TG-2 a pretty good watery workout, and the seals held strong around the battery and connection compartments. However, the ring around the lens, which detatches for the addition of lens add-ons, did come loose at one point and fell off whilst underwater. The lens misted up a bit but it dried out soon enough and no damage was done.
The TG-2 does a great job of exposure, keeping highlights in check whilst still pulling out detail from the shadows. It loses out on fine detail compared to the Nikon and Panasonic, but that's only going to be an issue if you're keen to crop in or blow up your shots beyond regular sizes. Click on the sample image above for a higher-res version. In all the stills quality is pretty good. Video is less impressive, marred by that juddery zoom, not dealing well with panning motions.
Via an adaptor, the TG-2 can be fitted with a fisheye lens or a telephoto lens, lending it further creative potential. If you're looking for a rugged camera that can do just that bit extra, the TG-2 could be for you, although rivals will beat it for pure image and video quality.