After our last family holiday being so much fun in Kuala Lumpur, this time around when we saw some bargain airfares appear, we jumped at the chance to head back over to catch up with family and friends and of course to have another fantastic time! Of course, thoughts then turned to the age old thought process of “Hmmm….what camera/s should I take?” or “Let me see, I can take this in this bag and maybe then fit this in here etc etc” – but this time around I wanted to do something different. I knew the follow things: our accommodation had a fantastic pool area, my youngest child thinks it’s hilarious to throw things into water, it will at times pour rain while we’re there, and also, I wanted our 6 year old to be able to take photos without worrying about dropping the camera etc. Also bearing in mind the old adage of the best camera being the one you can actually have with you, I began looking at Olympus much heralded line of Tough cameras, knowing that while the image quality wouldn’t match up to that of my favoured format – Micro Four Thirds – it would be able to endure situations that these cameras never could.
Although the TG5 was released in 2017 and has now been surpassed by the TG6 released in Mid 2019, the differences in most cases were rather minor and so when the earlier model became available at a fantastic price from a local camera shop, with the help of my friend and some good timing, he was able to head in and grab me the last one they had in stock – it was meant to be!
Initial impressions were very positive – it was built very solid and felt quite reassuring in the hand, so after a few days of quickly trying to get used to it, along with my family we headed off to spend a fantastic couple of weeks in KL.
The view from our apartment was fantastic and gave me the chance to test out a few various things on the camera – iso settings, picture effects etc. I found that I really appreciated the colours rendered by the in camera jpg’s and often used the vivid colour profile to bump things up a bit, especially if it was a duller day or there was haze around and so on. It also gave a great result when wanting to highlight colourful things such as the traditional Malay kuih (cakes) that i photographed at the morning market. Noise performance was on the whole, not too bad – this is after all, a compact sensor and I had no problem using iso 1600 for family shots where image quality isn’t critical but actually getting the shot is. Further to that, these shots also print up just fine as 8×10’s to frame as holiday memories to hang on the wall. On the other end of the spectrum, shots taken at iso 100 really came out quite nicely and – for the sensor size – captured a good amount of detail, sharpness and also a very nice range of colours. I also found that if taking close up shots, for example of food etc, or even of my baby niece, this is when the camera really did its best work in showing the maximum amount of detail and overall image quality. Of course, sharpness drops off in corners and softens as the zoom is used more but once again, keep realistic expectations here and you should be more than happy with your results.
Focus speed was to my liking very fast, never an issue in terms of speed and also was almost always very accurate. Regardless of the situation I always felt confident in the ability of the camera to focus both quickly and on the correct subject. Changing settings is also very simple and fast for most things. By pressing ok in the middle of the d-pad the quick menu appears which lets you easily change most common settings – this came in very handy on a number of occasions as it lets you adjust to changing surroundings without missing any shots – very important for flighty children!
The TG5 was also great fun to take into the pool at our holiday apartment, and just as fun was giving it to both of my kids knowing that no matter what happened in and around the water, this camera would take it all in its stride. It got dropped on wooden decking, thrown into the pool repeatedly, fell down a flight of stairs and endured repeated changes from humid to dry conditions and nothing came close to bothering it. As a father of two young children, it was also so much fun to be able to take this camera in the pool with us and be able to get family snapshots we would never have otherwise been able to.
And while its by no means the smallest camera out there, not even the smallest tough camera, I found that its body shape meant that it fitted both very easily and very well into any pockets that my shorts or pants had. It was also nice to know that once again any knocks or bumps that happen while you have a camera in your pocket, or even the dust that these cameras also often find in your pocket, would never be a concern. It really was just a case of put it in your pocket and head out for the day with no concerns whatsoever. As a go anywhere camera ready for literally rain hail or shine, I found this met and exceeded any expectations I had and it really made our family holiday much easier knowing that this was one less thing I had to worry about, that this camera would always be ready to go whenever it was needed. Definitely a top performer and based on this I’d be more than happy to recommend this or its successor to anyone looking for a rough and tumble camera that also takes some pretty nice shots!