Olympus TG4 or TG5 for Snorkeling?

Cuttlefish over soft corals with blue sea background Raja Ampat
Cuttlefish, taken with my Olympus TG4

By Ruth – (San Francisco)
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 2018 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.
Giant Blue Clam Raja Ampat
Giant Clam, with TG4
Clown Anemonefish Raja Ampat
Clown Anemone Fish, with TG4

Thanks for any and all advice.

Comments Moved From Previous System

Galen – Jan 25, 2018 – Olympus TG5 vs. TG4

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 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.

SailorJJ – Jan 29, 2018 – Screen Fog on TG4

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.

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

Hello Galen, thanks for your advice and 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.


George – Feb 17, 2018 – Fogging

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…

Patti – May 17, 2018 – Fogging View Screen

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.

Anonymous – Feb 27, 2021 – Olympus TG5 Bluetooth With Selfie Stick?

My wife loves her TG5 so I bought her an extendable selfie stick to use underwater. I did my research and the one I chose was supposed to be the best for the TG5. I guess I didn’t ask the correct questions. I unpacked it and tried to get it ready only to find out the TG5 has no Bluetooth. Well, that kind of defeats the purpose of putting the camera 24 inches in front of me but unable to snap a picture.

Would anyone have a workaround other than Bluetooth to my phone? I know she wouldn’t carry both a camera and her cell phone just to take pictures.

Galen – Mar 1, 2021 – Wireless Connections Underwater

Unfortunately no wireless connections work underwater. So it would not matter if your TG camera has it. Those selfie sticks that can take pictures wirelessly are only designed to work above the water.

In order to take a still picture underwater on a selfie stick you can either use the self-timer on the camera. Or you may be able to set the camera to continuously take pictures at a set interval. Or it may be best to take a video when using the selfie stick.

Leave a Comment