Home / Opinions / Which waterproof camera should I buy? Six waterproof cameras reviewed / Olympus Tough TG-2, Panasonic Lumix FT5, Pentax WG3

Olympus Tough TG-2, Panasonic Lumix FT5, Pentax WG3

Olympus Tough TG-2, £310

Where Nikon is a relative newcomer to the tough compact market, Olympus is probably one of the most experienced manufacturers. The Olympus Tough TG-2 is the second generation of Olympus's high-end 'TG' series of tough cameras and, owing to said high-end nature, is the most expensive of the group.

It's waterproof to an impressive 15 metres, and shockproof up to two metres.

Olmpus Tough TG-2 1

Although the 4x optical zoom of the TG-2 is less than some of its competition, it has a generous wide-angle of 25mm and a maximum aperture of f/2 at the wide end, placing it some way ahead most of the group.

The lens is paired with a 12MP CMOS sensor and TruePic VI image processor, inherited from some of the TG-2's non-tough companions. The processor promises to control high ISO image noise across the 100-6400 ISO range.

The TG-2 also features its fair share of technology for the adventure photographer. It benefits from GPS functionality, which in turn allows the camera to feature an e.compass, while a 'Microscopic Macro' mode allows for focusing at a distance of as little as 1cm.

Olmpus Tough TG-2

Performance wise, the TG-2 has the fastest AF speed out of all of the cameras on test, while its 3-inch, 610k-dot OLED screen is one of the most impressive out of the group.

The model's build quality is also impressive and the body feels assuredly solid and up to any tests presented to it in challenging shooting environments. Despite this sturdy build, it still easy to use thanks to intelligently designed buttons.

Panasonic Lumix FT5, £300

Panasonic's 'FT' range of tough compacts has built a reputation for featuring some of the very highest specifications of any of tough camera on the market, and the FT5 looks to continue this tradition.

It's waterproof down to 13 metres - a little less than the Nikon and the Olympus, but impressive all the same. It's shockproof up to two metres.

Panasonic Lumix FT5 2

As well as featuring all manner of advanced gadgety features, the FT5 has a 16MP high-sensitivity MOS sensor which, combined with Panasonic's Venus engine image processing technology, should allow for good noise management across the 100-6400 ISO range. The lens has a 4.6x optical zoom that covers an equivalent focal range of 28-128mm and had built-in optical image stabilisation.

It’s the extras where the FT5 really shines, though. There’s GPS for geo-tagging photos; navigation features to help find your way; Wi-Fi for wireless photo transfer and remote operation using a smartphone or tablet; and NFC for wireless transfer of photos with other NFC devices. It’s a veritable who’s who of tech features.

Panasonic Lumix FT5 1

The FT5 is a hardy-looking camera, but it’s still comfortable to hold thanks to the grip that extends around to the front. The exposed metal front and back covers aid this sense of solidity, while the large buttons also aid operation. The compact is also no slouch in operation, springing to life in an instant and offering good AF and shot-to-shot speeds.

Pentax WG3, £260

The final of our tough compacts is the Pentax WG-3. The WG series has always bucked the design trend, and the WG-3 continues this trend.

It has a 4x optical zoom and a decent 25mm wide-angle that matches the TG-2, while the maximum aperture of f/2 matches the higher-priced Olympus TG-2. There’s built-in optical image stabilisation and the 16MP sensor supports HD videos as 30fps and an 125-6,400 ISO range.

It's waterproof down to 14 metres, shockproof up to two metres and is the only 'crush resistant' camera here - it can withstand 100kg.

Pentax WG-3

One interesting feature of the WG3 is the presence of six LED lights around the camera's lens. These lights serve as a ring light should the need arise, whether shooting underwater or simply wanting to make the most of the camera's 1cm 'digital microscope' macro mode. There’s also a digital level that displays an electronic horizon for guaranteeing a level shot in difficult conditions.

This version doesn’t have GPS, but there is a 'WG3-GPS' model available that features a slightly higher price tag should you need it.

Pentax WG-3 3

As mentioned, the WG3 features a distinctive design, one which makes it the largest of all of the tough cameras on test. It has a rubberised finish and textured buttons, as a result it feels great in the hand and secure in harsh conditions.

While the WG3 is no slouch in operation, the model's zoom is the slowest of the group on test to travel through the focal range. It's not the fastest to start, although AF performance is good.


July 5, 2013, 5:54 pm

Confused: Same article, same model, same photos, similar text and same result was published in May at


by Mike Topham.

Now it's published here, two months later by Paul Nuttall.

What's going on?

Emil Nyström

July 6, 2013, 7:27 pm

I dont think its so confusing, petapixel buys finished articles all the time. Like EVERY other media out there.


July 6, 2013, 8:21 pm

What Digital Camera is a sister title of ours at IPC Media. Their article was re-written for our site.


July 6, 2013, 11:57 pm

I'd hope the models are the same if the pictures are the same.

Michael Andrew Broughton

July 7, 2013, 5:44 am

there's no way they had the white balance set properly on the pentax for the underwater shot.

Scott M.

July 8, 2013, 5:37 am

Just got back from Colorado River/Grand Canyon rafting trip. Took D7000 and the waterproof Nikon in the review. I was very happy with the camera. Shot many rapid videos, including Lava Falls, with no problems. Color is very good and the lens is amazing for what it can do. Tiny sensor no match for a "real camera" but while the D7000 was safe in the Pelican case, the Coolpix was getting very wet for 8 days. Too scared to take D800 and I am glad I didn't. Too much fine sand in the air, and everywhere. My DX zoom is now very crunchy. :(


July 8, 2013, 8:41 am

They were all shot using each camera's underwater mode, so the fault more than likely lies with the metering system - as suggested in the review.


August 6, 2013, 6:35 pm

And renames the author?


September 30, 2013, 2:52 pm

You'll find that you do not actually need some special underwater white balance. Your eyes use the Sunlight, the same as your camera, thus wysiwyg. Underwater modes just add some red which you can't see in water anyway, and if you have to use flash or artificial light, the camera will, again.see what you're seeing.
That is, if you want to shoot what you see. If not, you can always make corrections later in PP.

Anyway, we don't really know just for which kind of "underwater" the camera has been programmed, so we can't really use the one same mode for, say, lakes and seas...

Tom C

December 7, 2013, 8:36 pm

One thing completely overlooked is that the Olympus TG-2 has lenses that can be put on UNDERWATER. I use the wide angle fisheye lens and the teleconverter (close-up) lens regularly. When I see an shot that's better for wide angle I just put it on right there.
I can't find any other manufacturer that does that. In fact, I even take over/under photos with my fisheye lens. The fisheye FCon1 is $140USD and the camera is $329USD. Its not possible to take over/under photos for less than $500 with any other manufacturer. See my Flickr account for photocaruso to see actual photos with the TG-2


March 3, 2015, 4:37 pm

why no specs on the lenses? I'd imagine that lower F ratings have better light getting ability?

comments powered by Disqus