My Expression | Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS

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Back in early November 2012 I was in a dilemma. In a week time I will be off to Laos for a 2-week symposium which includes an excursion to a beautiful waterfall resort and some street marauding in the capital city Vientiane. At first I was looking for a wide angle lens to pair up with my E-30 and was seriously hunting down for a used ZD 9-18. It then occurred to me to get a more compact unit which I can easily carry around, rugged and has a decent image output. This was how I ended up with the TG-1.

Partly because I find that it was cumbersome to take out a DSLR every time I make a short stop during mountain hiking, I was drawn towards a rugged camera. The TG-1 virtually has no real competition when it comes to the ultimate waterproof compact being the most rugged (12m waterproof,2m shockproof; 100kg crushproof), the brightest (f2.0 lens) and the one with the most impressive macro capability. Of course I would not expect the image quality to rival that of a DSLR but it may come useful in more situations where mobility has higher priority.

I have never really own a compact camera before and it took me quite a while to understand its operating concept and limitations. After making several adjustments to the basic setting, I started to shoot… and can hardly stop. This little baby is like the perfect toy to play with- it has so many interesting functions and ability that can satisfy a curious mind. A selection of Magic Filter allows the user to play with fancy outputs such as a (fake) fisheye, punk, pinhole effect, dramatic tone and watercolor effect. You can dip it into water without worry and use it in hard condition such as at a sandy beach. I have heard so many horror stories telling how DSLRs were damages by the high salinity of sea water and the fine dust but the TG-1 have survived several marine onslaughts.

A few years ago I would have never consider to put my money on a waterproof camera due to the generally poor image quality. A waterproof camera cannot have an extendable lens, meaning their optics are tiny and so packed that the maximum aperture is nothing to be impressed with. The TG-1 however has an f/2.0 lens at 25mm EFL and goes to somewhat smaller aperture at 100mm. Now this is just what I want to shoot at a public crowd without alarming them with a flash. The image quality, although not at all reaching DSLR standard, is often good enough for 800 pixel web use and I have even printed a panorama produced by its automatic Scene Mode at 11.5″ spread.

The image of the green whip snake below was taken at night. In Super Macro mode, the flash is off and there is no way to override that. However there is a small LED next to the flash that provides some illumination in this mode. A friend helped by holding a torch light to give more light for this shot.

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TG-1 | P mode | Super Macro
f/4.2 | ISO 1600 | 1/80s | Amir Ridhwan

This trilobite beetle was crawling on the trail to Gunung Liang. I had the TG-1 in a belt pouch and it was not much of a hassle to photograph it. Should I only carry a DSLR, there is no way I am going to open my rucksack during such hike.

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TG-1 | P mode | Super Macro
f/4.2 | ISO 800 | 1/200s | Amir Ridhwan

The last water point along the trail to the summit of Gunung Liang. This is at about 1400m above sea level. I took this photo while collecting water supply down a ravine, something that I would not do while carrying a DSLR.

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TG-1 | P mode | Normal
f/2.0 | ISO 800 | 1/30s | Amir Ridhwan

In Laos there are several bridges that cross over the Mekong river. This scenery of sunrise was taken from the bridge in Pakse.

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TG-1 | Scene mode | Landscape
f/2.8 | ISO 100 | 1/125s | Amir Ridhwan

Of course the ideal way to photograph a nice waterfall is by using a DSLR, a tripod and a set of ND filters. But when you just want a quick shot for Facebook, the TG-1 does the trick with nothing much to complain about.

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TG-1 | Scene mode | Landscape
f/2.8 | ISO 100 | 1/200s | Amir Ridhwan

So light and so capable in macro, I was able to photograph a venomous brown widow spider crawling on my left hand. The ergonomics might not be the best but it is good enough for me to get a steady macro image using one hand.

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TG-1 | P mode | Super Macro
f/4.2 | ISO 1600 | 1/60s | Amir Ridhwan

The morning sky along the Mekong river is always majestic. I put the camera on scene mode to get a point-and-shoot image.

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TG-1 | Scene mode | Landscape
f/2.0 | ISO 100 | 1/60s | Amir Ridhwan

Even in awkward angles the TG-1 never fail to impress. The cicada was emerging from below a leaf at night and I got this shot with the help of the built-in LED light for macro.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

TG-1 | P mode | Super Macro
f/4.2 | ISO 800 | 1/80s | Amir Ridhwan

I brought my son to Mersing last year and we took a dip at the beach. TG-1 worked well in the salt water and there was no problem at all afterwards. The focusing response was a bit slot, probably due to lack of contrast at the beach.

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TG-1 | P mode | Normal
f/2.8 | ISO 100 | 1/320s | Amir Ridhwan

As for the image quality, I am rather okay with the TG-1. As a walkabout camera, this is just nice. Small enough to be carried anywhere in the belt pouch. For hiking, this camera is simply heaven sent. I have no worry about it being damaged while going outdoor even in the harsh condition while climbing a tropical mountain. You can rest assured that this baby can survive just about anything nature can throw.

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