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Olympus Tough TG-1 Digital Camera Review$399.99
Lens & Sensor
The lens is the TG-1's defining feature. It's an all-internal lens, encased behind a flat piece of glass for protection. The 4x zoom is a bit short by this year's standards, but on the plus side, it's pretty wide, starting at 4.5mm (25mm equivalent) and topping out at 18mm (100mm equivalent).
But the real highlight is the f/2.0-4.9 aperture. It's the brightest lens we've seen on a tough-cam, and has the potential to improve indoor and low-light shooting.
The TG-1 moves slowly through the zoom range, and there's audible noise from the zoom motor. Neither of those issues are serious problems, but it does lead us to believe that it was a struggle to fit a wide zoom lens inside of a compact camera. But hey, they did it, and that's what counts.
The TG-1 is built around a typical point-and-shoot sensor. In this case, it's a 12-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS chip. Most of the first-tier tough-cams have similar sensors, and it's great to see that CMOS chips have permeated the ruggedized segment.
The 3-inch, 610,000-pixel OLED display is yet another hardware highlight on the TG-1. It's brighter, crisper, smoother, more vibrant, and more energy-efficient than even the best tough-cam LCD displays. The improvement is most obvious in bright sunlight and underwater, where regular LCDs struggle.
The flash is built into the top-left corner of the front panel. Wandering fingers will inadvertently get in the way of the flash from time to time. It's effective to about 17 feet, which is slightly above average for a tough cam.
Like most current compacts, the TG-1 comes equipped with a USB/AV port (with a proprietary input) and an HDMI port (mini-HDMI, in this case).
The TG-1 runs on the popular LI-90B rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Dozens of compact cameras of all makes and models run on this battery, so you might have a few backup batteries already lying around.
The TG-1 is rated for 350 shots per charge, which is above-average for the tough-cam class. The energy-efficient OLED display is likely to thank for the healthy battery life.
When the in-camera GPS is activated, though, battery life drops considerably. With the GPS logger turned on, the battery will drain itself overnight (this feature pings a satellite every few minutes, even if the camera is otherwise turned off). If you're having battery issues, it's probably because the logger is on.
As usual, the TG-1 captures to SD/SDHC/SDXC media cards.