5.4mm [30mm], Microscope, 1/30s, f/2.3, Pattern, ISO 1600, 0 EV
5.4mm [30mm], Microscope, 1/30s, f/2.3, Pattern, ISO 1600, 0 EV

Olympus TOUGH TG-6 Image Quality

Review Date: July 16, 2019

Category: Entry-Level

Olympus TOUGH TG-6 (Red)

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2019 - Compact Rugged
Photoxels Editor’s Choice 2019 – Compact Rugged


What differs the Olympus TOUGH TG-6 from other rugged waterproof cameras? An insistence on image quality means that you do not have to compromise on ruggedness at the expense of image quality. Granted, the TG-6, like most other rugged waterproof cameras, still sports a tiny 1/2.3-in. image sensor but it has wisely limited the resolution to 12MP for a comfortable balance between detail and noise performance. The lens provides a 25-100 mm (equiv.) 4x optical zoom, achieved thanks to its prism-folded design. At wide-angle, the maximum aperture is a fast F2.0 for better low-light capability. Anti-reflective coating incorporated in the image sensor’s sealing glass minimizes ghosting and flares. The nitrogen-filled, hermetically sealed dual-pane protective glass construction prevents condensation and fogging on the lens for reliable shooting even in locations with severe temperature fluctuations (i.e., when you move from a cold to a warm environment and vice-versa). The TG-6 also allows you to shoot RAW.

Shooting Modes
The TG-6 provides Full AUTO, Scene Modes, as well as P (Program AUTO) and A (Aperture-priority) shooting modes. There are no S (Shutter-priority) or M (Full Manual) shooting modes. Some users have bemoaned the fact that the TG-6 does not provide shutter-priority mode. Why doesn’t it? For the simple reason that the TG-6 has only two (2) apertures, with a third one achieved with the use of an ND (Neutral Density) filter.

For example, at the 25 mm wide-angle focal length, there are only f/2, f/2.8 and f/8 aperture choices. At the 100 mm tele focal length, there are only f/4.9, f/6.3 and f/18 aperture choices. Of course, the aperture varies as you zoom the lens, getting progressively smaller as you move from the wide-angle to the tele focal length.

With only three (3) aperture settings at any particular focal length, the TG-6 is therefore unable to support the Shutter-priority mode since there are not enough aperture settings to obtain a correctly exposed photo every time.

If you are new to photography, use the AUTO shooting mode. For those who desire more exposure control, depending on your personal preference, choose P or A.

4x Optical Zoom

The Olympus TOUGH TG-6 features a 4.5mm – 18mm (35mm Equivalent Focal Length: 25mm – 100mm) f/2.0 (wide) – f/4.9 (tele) 4x optical zoom lens. Above, we show the coverage for 25mm, then 100mm. The lens is optically image stabilized, providing a 2.5 EV gain at 100mm.


18mm [100mm], P, 1/100s, f/4.9, Pattern, ISO 250, 0 EV

18mm [100mm], P, 1/100s, f/4.9, Pattern, ISO 250, 0 EV

5.4mm [30mm], P, 1/15s, f/3.2, ISO 1600

5.4mm [30mm], P, 1/15s, f/3.2, ISO 1600

5.4mm [30mm], Microscope, 1/30s, f/2.3, Pattern, ISO 1600, 0 EV

5.4mm [30mm], Microscope, 1/30s, f/2.3, Pattern, ISO 1600, 0 EV

Macro photography is easy with the TG-6. Closest focusing distance with the lens is 10 cm (4″). Switch to Super Macro mode, and you can get as close as 1 cm (0.4″). The Microscope mode also allows you to get as close as 1 cm.

AF is contrast-detect. It is fast and works very well in good lighting. In low-light, the camera may hunt a bit before locking focus, depending on the contrast of your subject.

White Balance

As the above two pictures show, the White Balance setting is quite accurate indoors under mixed artificial lighting.


You can select an ISO from 100 to 12800. We find the overall image quality to be very good at ISO 100 and ISO 200, with low noise and good image detail. Image quality is good up to ISO 1600. At higher ISOs, the presence of noise is quite visible at full image size and with increasing loss of detail.

Note that because the slowest shutter speed is 1/2 sec. (up to 4 sec. in Nightscapes scene modes), the image at ISO 100 in our low-light/noise test is underexposed. This means that the TG-6 will rely heavily on upping the ISO to ensure a correctly exposed image. In our test images above, correct exposure is achieved at ISO 400 and up.

CA (Purple Fringing)

CA (Purple Fringing)

CA (Purple Fringing)

CA is well controlled. In the above photo, the top center area delimited by the red square, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows minimal purple fringing.

Long Exposure
Our Long Exposure test is a torture test for digital cameras. Here we test whether (and how well) a camera can lock focus, provide accurate WB and obtain a correct exposure in extreme low light situations. With only a slowest shutter speed of 1/2 sec., the TG-6 is not able to pass our extreme low-light test (which usually requires shutter speeds of 30 sec. and longer).

However, the TG-6 allows the use of a long shutter speed of 4 sec. in Nightscape scene mode, which should allow it to take some nice well-illuminated night shots. Here’s the kind of results you can expect to obtain using the Nightscape scene mode:

Nightscape scene mode

Nightscape scene mode

Picture Mode: Art Filters
When you press the OK button, the very first icon at top right of the display is the Picture Mode. Use UP/DOWN to select it and then RIGHT/LEFT to select an ART filter. Press OK to accept.

Overall, the Olympus TOUGH TG-6 is a rugged point-and-shoot camera that delivers good image quality.

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