Olympus Tough TG-1 Digital Camera Review$399.99
Shooting modes on the Olympus TG-1 include iAuto, Program, about 25 scene modes, 12 picture effects, and 2 customizable settings.
The TG-1 does not offer what we consider to be manual controls—no manual focus, no priority or manual exposure modes. This is typical for a tough-cam, though it's off-putting to some photography enthusiasts who are drawn in by the f/2 lens and excited by the prospect of a more "serious" tough cam. This is not that camera—it's a standard tough-cam with a better lens and screen than any of its competitors.
Autofocus is quick and accurate. Olympus claims that they've incorporated the AF system from their PEN series of interchangeable-lens compacts; there's probably some truth to that, but whatever, it's a marketing tactic. In any case, it's right up there with the best point-and-shoots. We occasionally ran into some frustrating focus-hunting problems in Macro and Super Macro modes, but nothing too far out of the ordinary. What struck us the most was the impressive AF speed and accuracy in video mode—a challenge for just about every point-and-shoot we've ever seen.
Resolution maxes out at about 12 megapixels in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Two quality/compression options are available: Normal and Fine. Aside from the max resolution, 8 more sizes are available in 4:3 and 16:9 ratios, all the way down to VGA-quality shots.
We ran into glitchy performance with the TG-1, and it even crashed on us a few times. It typically occurred while we were switching between shooting mode and playback mode. The image on the LCD would hang for at least a few seconds, sometimes completely locking up the camera. The easy solution was to remove and re-insert the battery, but that's obviously not an option underwater. Sometimes we were able to hold down the power button to reset the camera, which was OK, but time consuming, and it didn't always work.
The problem may have been tied to a low-quality memory card that we used out in the field one weekend. Once we switched to a faster, brand-name card, the problems stopped for the most part—it crashed one additional time after a long continuous burst while we tried to switch to playback mode.
We've looked at a few forums to see if any other users ran into this problem, but haven't heard anything yet. If this has happened to you, leave a comment. We'll be looking into it with Olympus. For now, it does not seem indicative of a widespread quality-control problem, though it's certainly concerning.
If you do run into any problems, try switching your memory card. Removing and re-inserting the battery will always fix the problem, though if that's not an option (if you're underwater), try holding down the power button for at least 10 seconds—it might reset the power.