Olympus TG4 or TG5 for Snorkeling?

by Ruth
(San Francisco)

Cuttlefish, taken with my Olympus TG4

Cuttlefish, taken with my Olympus TG4

What advantages does the Olympus TG5 have over the TG4, my current model, for snorkeling?

I will be on a snorkeling liveaboard in the Maldives in March and have been fence sitting on staying with what I have or springing for the TG5.
A few issues I had with the Olympus TG4 snorkeling on a 2016 Raja Ampat trip were:

1. The LCD screen fogged up often and I was shooting blind at times.

2. It was easy to accidentally switch the knob controlling the underwater scene to a different setting. I realize this is mostly due to operator error, nevertheless it seemed to be quite sensitive.

3. Backscatter seemed really pronounced. This artifact was more present than in previous snorkeling trips I've taken - perhaps because Raja Ampat has such amazingly healthy reefs, thus more small particles in the water to bounce back light. My trip leader advised me to make sure the flash was off - perhaps it wasn't initially but there still seemed to be some backscatter with flash off.

Thanks for any and all advice.

Comments for Olympus TG4 or TG5 for Snorkeling?

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 25, 2018
by: Galen

Nice pictures Ruth! The TG5 may offer you some desirable benefits over the TG4, but it's hard to say if it is worth the investment, given how good the TG4 is. Olympus really seems to be listening to their customers and adding valuable features.

With the TG5 they have added a dual pane glass lens cover to prevent fogging issues. But that is for the lens, not the screen. I have read in reviews that the TG5 still fogs up on the screen. It's not surprising though. Most digital cameras will have this issue in very moist and hot environments. Our solution is two fold.

1. Open the camera doors as little as you can in very humid situations. Change your batteries and cards in a drier environment, like your air conditioned room. This reduces moisture inside the camera.

2. Keep heat from building up. You do that by turning the camera and/or screen off between pictures. Don't leave the camera on for long a duration, which builds heat up from the screen. Also, try to keep your camera out of direct sunlight, which turns it into a hot house for moisture condensation inside.

The TG5 has a new control knob for settings, which hopefully will help your problem with accidentally changing the settings.

For the backscatter problem, other than turning off your flash, the only other solution is to be aware of the angle of the sun. If it is behind you, shining on your subject, much like flash light, it will hit particles and create backscatter. Sometimes the only solution is to use Photoshop and clean it up a bit later.

A notable difference between the TG5 and TG4 is they have reduced the sensor size to 12mp from 16mp. On a tiny sensor camera like these, that is a really good move by Olympus. It will give pictures with less noise (grain), and allow for higher ISO capabilities, and make virtually no difference to how big you can print an image.

Ultimately, you will find that no camera is perfect and you just have to learn how to extract the best results you can from what you have. The TG5 is not going to make a huge difference in the quality of your photography.

Jan 29, 2018
Screen Fog on TG4
by: SailorJJ

I too experienced the disappointing screen fogging on my trip to the BVI last spring. It was very frustrating having to basically shoot blind. I had not opened the access covers for any reason, and when we were there it was in the high 70's to low 80's with minimal humidity. Staying on a sailboat, air conditioning was not an option even if I had to open the camera covers for some reason. What puzzled me was the minimal difference from air temp to water temp, yet still dealing with the fogging issue.

Jan 29, 2018
Thanks re: TG4 vs TG5
by: Ruth MacKay-Shea

Hello Galen,

Thanks for your advice & recommendations. I still have a few weeks to decide on buying the TG5. My snorkeling camera prior to the TG4 was the Canon PS G10 which did an admirable job on a 2010 Belize trip and I do take it on all snorkeling trips as a backup. Interestingly the screen and lens never fogged.

I'm confirmed on the Misool resort trip in 2020 and look forward to meeting you and Nicole. I've been enjoying your terrific website since 2009.


Feb 17, 2018
by: George

I experienced the same issues with fogging of the screen of the Olympus TG-5 on a recent trip to Raja Ampat and Sulawesi. Fortunately though, the lens did not fog up - so despite the fact I could hardly see the image on the screen I managed to get some decent photos. Next time I go to the tropics I will either not open the camera and will recharge the battery 'in-camera' or I will put the camera with the battery compartment open into a bag of silica gel after I open it up...

May 17, 2018
Fogging view screen
by: Patti

Okay, won't matter TG1,2,3,4, or 5, the view screen can fog. Had it happen repeatedly in Raja Ampat in January. I tried charging batteries in camera, charging out, silica, leaving outside, putting in water hour before.

Still fogged on occasion. The TGs are amazing cameras but they tend to heat when left on. Combine this with possibly cooler water, foggy screen finder. Now you can turn it off until needed but will probably miss that eagle ray going by.

My only solution has been to carry two cameras. When one fogs, I switch it off, move to the other and keep on. Oddly this didn't happen in the rest of the countries, just think there's enough water temperature variation to trigger it in certain areas.

Now it's an expensive solution but I always carry two cameras at all times anyway, never know when a battery dies at the worst moment.

I have TG2's, my daughter dives with the TG5. Unless you just WANT to move up, no need, not going to cure the fogging issue. And I have the extra plate over my view screen as well, doesn't help.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Snorkel Camera Stories and Q&A.



[?]Get Our RSS Feed
Read more about Galen & Nicole
Check out these world-class guided snorkeling travel opportunities.