Anyone in the market for a rugged waterproof compact is probably going to look at the TOUGH TG-5 before considering alternatives. Over the last five years Olympus has built a solid reputation for the TOUGH brand and one that’s well deserved. So how does the latest TOUGH model, the TG-5 measure up?
First of all, let’s look at what’s new. At the centre of things is a new 12 Megapixel sensor paired with the latest TruePic VIII processor used in the flagship mirrorless OMD EM1 Mark II. That provides excellent quality pictures with low noise, but it also boasts much faster continuous shooting with RAW support, Pro Capture buffered continuous shooting, and 4k movies.
There’s a new control dial which makes changing camera settings in the wild much easier and a GPS tracking log switch so you can easily disable logging to conserve battery power and turn it back on again when you need a record of where you’ve been. And a new temperature sensor adds to the GPS, manomenter and electronic compass, allowing you to log and record more environmental data with your photos than any other rugged compact.
There’s a lot more, including dual pane anti-fog glass, a new menu system, locking accessory mount, and new art filters.
All of this builds on the existing strengths of the TOUGH TG-4 and earlier models. Those centre around the 25-100mm equivalent f2 – 4.9 zoom lens, the brightest on any rugged compact and, together with the low noise profile of the sensor, giving it a huge advantage when shooting in low light and underwater.
Why would anyone forego this formidable array of features in favour of an alternative? Let’s take a look at how the Fujifilm FinePix XP120 compares and see if it can answer that question.
Before we get on to physical features and compare specifications the first thing to say is the the FinePix XP120 is a much simpler model than the TOUGH TG-5. It lacks the TG-5’s mode and control dials, it has Wifi, but no built-in GPS, lacks some of the TOUGH TG-5’s advanced shooting modes and doesn’t support 4k movies. But maybe you don’t need all that, and the lack of it makes the FinePix XP120 a much simpler camera to operate.
It has a longer 5x optical zoom with a 28-140mm range, though its f3.9-4.9 maximum aperture isn’t as bright as the TG-5’s, at least not at the wide angle end of the range. And in my tests its picture quality wasn’t as good as the TG-5’s with its 16.4 Megapixel sensor generating significantly more noise.
It has a bigger, higher resolution screen than the TOUGH TG-5 – both are 3 inch but the XP120’s is 4:3 proportioned so still images fill it. It can also dive deeper – 20 metres compared with 15 meters for the TG-5.
While it can’t match the TG-5’s impressive array of continuous shooting modes it does offer a very respectable 10fps full resolution continuous mode as well as interval and time-lapse shooting.
Finally, the FinePix XP120 is a fraction of the cost of the TOUGH TG-5 – that fraction being around a half, as always, depending on where you shop. It doesn’t come close to the TG-5 in terms of specification or sophistication, but it’s a good alternative if simplicity and value for money are more of a priority for you.
Also worth a look is the TOUGH TG-870. It has a 5x 21-105mm optical zoom paired with a 16 Megapixel sensor, the same rugged specs as the TG-5 i.e waterproof to 15m, and a flip-up 960k dot screen. You’ll have to live without the TG-5’s f2 maximum aperture (it’s f3.5 – 5.7 on the TG-870), 4K movies, fast continuous shooting, temperature sensor and RAW capability, but, like the FinePix XP120, it’s around half the price of the TG-5. And don’t forget the earlier TOUGH TG-4, while still available, shares the same lens as the TG-5, but lacks all the new features including the new sensor and processor, 4K video, Pro Capture, control dial and thermometer.
So there are plenty of alternative options to the TG-5 and they’re mostly, to varying degrees, lower priced. But that’s because there isn’t a better rugged waterproof compact than the TOUGH TG-5. Like all great cameras it gets the basics right – a bright good quality lens paired with a quality 12 Megapixel sensor and high performance processor. It builds on that with a great set of features and shooting modes and provides the control you need to make the most of them, whatever the environment. The one little downside is the poor performance of the movie continuous AF, but we’re not going to let that stand in the way of a Cameralabs Highly Recommended Award.
Waterproof to 15 metres, dropproof from 2.1m, freezeproof to -10C, and dustproof.
Bright 25-100mm f2 – 4.9 lens.
Low noise 12 Megapixel sensor.
Fast continuous shooting / Pro Capture.
Control and mode dials.
GPS, manometer, electronic compass, and temperature sensor.
Great macro modes / focus stacking.
Poor C-AF on movies.
Poor strap design.