Olympus Tough TG-6

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a modest update to our favorite underwater point-and-shoot camera thanks to its tough design, bright lens, and excellent macro capabilities.

Pros

  • Tough, waterproof build.
  • Add-on lenses and macro lights available.
  • Sharp rear LCD.
  • Wide aperture lens.
  • 4K video.
  • Wi-Fi.

Cons

  • Not a touch screen.
  • LCD can pick up scuffs and scratches.
  • Video feature lag behind action cameras.
  • Wi-Fi app pushes spammy notifications.

Year after year, model after model, Olympus has bested all other competition with its flagship waterproof TG series. Its latest entry, the TG-6 ($449), doesn't break far from the established confines of the series. It's a pocketable camera with a lens that's makes it a decent low-light option, and a waterproof design rated to fifty feet. There aren't a lot of other waterproof cameras on the market these days, and while the TG-6 doesn't offer huge gains over the TG-5, it's still the the best waterproof point-and-shoot you can get, and our Editors' Choice.

Built Tough

The TG-6 retains the same pocketable, but all around rugged, form factor of its predecessors. It measures 2.6 by 4.5 by 1.3 inches (HWD), weighs 8.9 ounces, and can withstand enough pressure for use in fifty feet of water. You can buy it in your choice of black or red.

Controls and Features

The TG-6 is a pretty standard point-and-shoot from a handling perspective. Its handgrip is decently deep, and the camera ships with a cloth wrist strap that you can use on land and under water.

The On/Off button is on top, along with the shutter release, zoom control, and a control wheel. The control wheel isn't comfortable—it's very slim, and it has to be waterproof, so sealing makes turning it require some effort. Olympus has added plastic ridges, so you can get a grip and turn it, but they are a little pointy. The wheel is useful—the TG-6 doesn't include full manual exposure control, so many photographers will opt to use it to dial in exposure adjustments. It's also not the end of the world—you're not going to cut yourself on it, but you may notice some small indentations in your thumb after turning it a few times.

The main rear control is a four-way directional pad, with the OK button at its center. It's joined by Info, Menu, Play, and Record buttons and a flat dial to set the camera's mode. If you want to go outside full Auto, your best bet is to use Program and adjust exposure using the top dial for many scenes.

You do have some creative control—you can switch to a Sports scene to ensure short shutter speeds to freeze motion, and there are several options for long-exposure photography—the lens includes an integrated neutral density filter, so you can shoot longer exposures.

Connectivity and Power

The TG-6 includes GPS, as well as Wi-Fi to connect to your smartphone. The GPS turns off and on easily, using the Log toggle switch atop the camera body. But be careful to turn it off when putting it away for the day—it will drain the battery, even with the camera powered down.

Speed and Autofocus

The TG-6 takes about 1.6 seconds to power on, lock focus, and snap a picture. Its autofocus system is basic, but speedy, locking onto targets with about 0.1-second between pressing the shutter and making an image.

Images and Video

Olympus has stuck with a 12MP sensor here, to the benefit of images. It supports both JPG and Raw capture, and thanks to the relatively low pixel density and f/2 lens, is a decent low-light performer—provided you don't zoom in. The f-stop gets smaller as you approach 100mm, which limits the light that comes in.

Remains Our Top Pick

Olympus didn't make a huge bevy of improvements with the TG-6, instead choosing to stick to a formula that has worked year after year. Smartphones have replaced point-and-shoots for most types of casual photography, but even though your iPhone 11 Pro is waterproof, it doesn't mean you want to take it diving, or rock climbing for that matter.