To test real-life performance, I shot this scene with the Olympus TOUGH TG-5 and the Fujifilm FinePix XP120 using their best quality JPEG settings and at their base 100 ISO sensitivity setting. Both cameras were mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled, the sensitivity was manually set to 100 ISO and Program auto mode was selected for the exposure. The TOUGH TG-5 selected an exposure of 1/160 at f9 and for the FinePix XP120 it was 1/350 at f6.2 – effectively giving the same exposure.
As the Finepix XP120 has a slightly narrower 28mm equivalent wide-angle, I zoomed the TOUGH TG-5 in a tad to match the angle of view. The TOUGH TG-5 has a 12 Megapixel sensor, compared with 16.4 Megapixels on the XP120, so the TOUGH TG-5’s crops show a larger area with smaller detail. As usual, the crops below are taken from the areas marked in red above.
Casting an eye down the row of crops on the left from the TOUGH TG-5 first impressions are that the quality from the lens and sensor is not at all bad. The first crop from close to the left edge of the frame is a tiny, tiny bit soft, but despite that there’s a good level of detail and the edges look sharp. There’s also a little bit of purple fringing in this crop – look closely at the left side of the brick chimney stack if you can’t spot it. It’s fairly minor in this crop, but I did notice colour fringing on several of my sample pics. If it’s likely to bother you, you’ve always got the option of shooting RAW and removing it in processing.
The second crop, from closer to the middle of the frame is hard to fault. There’s plenty of detail and it’s all sharp, so no complaints. You can see a tiny bit of noise in the third crop, if there’s going to be noise you’re more likely to find it in shadow areas like this. To put it in perspective, it’s fairly unobtrusive and it’s hard to spot noise in any of the other crops. The Olympus strategy of lowering the photosite count on the sensor from 16 to 12 Megapixels appears to have paid off – but we’ll wait to see what the noise tests look like before coming to a conclusion.
The final crop from close to the right edge of the frame shows the TOUGH TG-5 at its least impressive. It’s slightly soft, there’s a little bit of distortion and colour fringing and not as much detail as in the other crops. But overall this is an excellent result for the TOUGH TG-5.
The crops from the 16.4 Megapixel Fujifilm FinePix XP120 show a smaller area with larger detail, but though the detail is bigger, there isn’t more of it than in the crops from the 12 Megapixel TOUGH TG-5. In fact all of the crops, without exception, from the XP120 are softer with much less detail than the TOUGH TG-5. Another thing worth pointing out is that the third crop from the XP120 is also a fair bit noisier than its equivalent from the TOUGH TG-5. One thing the XP120’s lens doesn’t suffer from is colour fringing (or it’s better at filtering it out), but in every other respect the results from the TOUGH TG-5 are far superior.
Olympus TOUGH TG-5 JPEG noise
To examine noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with Olympus TOUGH TG-5 and the Fujifilm FinePix XP120 at each of their ISO sensitivities using their highest quality JPEG settings. Both cameras were mounted on a tripod and stabilisation was disabled.
As the Finepix XP120 has a slightly narrower 28mm equivalent wide-angle, I zoomed the TOUGH TG-5 in a tad to match the angle of view. TOUGH TG-5 has a 12 Megapixel sensor, compared with 16.4 Megapixels on the XP120, so the TOUGH TG-5’s crops show a larger area with smaller detail.
The ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting and Program auto was selected for the exposure. At 100 ISO The TOUGH TG-5 selected an exposure of 1/30 at 2.2 and for the FinePix XP120 it was 1/13 at f3.9. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked in red above.
Let’s say straight off, that from a noise perspective this is an excellent set of results for the TOUGH TG-5. The first encouraging sign is that there’s very little noise in the 100 ISO crop – it’s there, but you have to look hard to spot it. The next bit of good news is that the 200 ISO crop looks almost as good as the 100 ISO one. Even 400 ISO looks remarkably good, though you can see textures in the wall and the clock face is beginning to look quite speckly.
It’s not until you get to 1600 ISO that the noise start to have a destructive effect on the finer image detail – you can no longer make out the second hand on the clock at this point. 3200 ISO will look ok at smaller sizes and 6400 is worth having for, well, for shots that are worth having despite being very noisy. 12800 is a bit of a stretch though and I suspect is there more for marketing reasons than anything. That said, you can still tell that it’s quarter past twelve, just about.
The comparison with the crops on the right from the 16 Megapixel FinePix XP120 tells an interesting story. Right from the start the XP120’s crops are significantly noisier and less detailed. The lack of detail is mainly down to the noise, but also the efforts of the XP120’s processing to try and minimise it. I’d say the difference in noise levels between the two models is between one and two stops. Even if it’s only one stop, that’s quite a significant difference, especially when combined with the TOUGH TG-5’s two stop aperture advantage.
Next check out my sample images or skip back to my in-depth review or final verdict page!