Olympus launches Tough TG-6 waterproof compact, and we’re not entirely sure why

Olympus announced the Tough TG-6 on Wednesday, May 22, and we’re having a hard time figuring out what’s new. The Olympus Tough TG-5, released in 2017, is one of our favorite point-and-shoot cameras. The waterproof compact boasted good — for the class — image quality and introduced a host of new features, including the sensor, processor, and GPS tracking capabilities. It’s been our go-to recommendation for anyone looking for a rugged vacation camera they can take anywhere.

Naturally, we were excited about the prospect of a replacement, but the TG-6’s spec sheet reads a heck of a lot like the TG-5’s. There’s the 12-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated sensor; the 4X, 25-100mm (full-frame equivalent) f/2-4.9 lens; the 20-frames-per-second continuous shooting speed; and, of course, the waterproofing, drop-proofing, and crush-proofing that make it part of the Olympus Tough line. The very impressive microscope mode, which can focus as close as 1 centimeter from the front of the lens, also returns. Battery life remains unchanged at 340 shots per charge.

It would seem the second verse is the same as the first.

The lens does have a new antireflective coating designed to reduce ghosting and flares, which is actually a nice addition as excessive lens flare was one of the few cons we listed in our Tough TG-5 review. There is also a new fisheye adapter — the sci-fi sounding FCON-T02 — which can produce a true circular fisheye image. And there’s the FD-1 flash diffuser, which routes the light from the built-in flash into a diffuser ring around the lens and is designed to be used underwater. But, the FCON-T02 and FD-1 are adapters — they’re not actually anything new about the camera, itself.

In-camera focus stacking has seen a slight modification: You can now select from three to 10 images to be merged, whereas the TG-5 was locked at 10. The full macro focus range is also now available in Program and Auto exposure modes, and there are five underwater modes instead of the TG-5’s four.

Seeing as the TG-5 remains best in class 3 years on, maybe Olympus figured it just didn’t need to fix what wasn’t broken. Still, we’re a bit miffed that, other than the lens coating, the TG-6 is basically a firmware update with a camera attached. It looks to be a classic example of a marketing department upgrade. Unless we’re missing something.

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