Gear Review: Olympus Tough TG-1

A rugged waterproof camera with great image quality.

Our testers usually find waterproof/rugged compacts to be the epitome of compromise: Either you get trail-ready protection or you get great image quality—but not both. Until now. “As a DSLR user, I wasn’t expecting to be satisfied with a point-and-shoot,” says one tester. He was so impressed with the TG-1 that he didn’t hesitate to use this as his only camera on a climbing trip to Idaho’s City of Rocks. “The image quality is stunning, with deep colors, rich contrast, and surprising sharpness, and the build is so strong you could probably use this camera to hammer tent stakes if a suitable rock wasn’t around,” he raves (it has a crush rating of 220 pounds).

The 12-megapixel TG-1 sports an f/2.0 lens, which is the widest aperture* lens available in an all-conditions camera. The lens’ wider-than-usual angle (25 mm) allowed testers to capture more of any scene. “I loved this feature when I was trying to take in a sweeping landscape of snowy peaks in Denali National Park,” reports one. Like to stylize your shots? Dial the TG-1 to Magic mode, which lets you choose between 12 different digital filters (like sparkle, watercolor, pinhole, and soft focus) to change the effect.

Icing: Unlike many standard LCD displays, the TG-1 is super-sharp, bright, and easy to see in all conditions—even while wearing polarized shades. For those who really want to unleash their creativity, a clip-on adapter ($40) allows you to screw on filters, a fisheye lens, or 1.7x telephoto lens (each sold separately). The TG-1 doesn’t come with a conventional wall charger (accessory kit is $20); it recharges via USB cable, and comes with a wall adapter. $350; 8.2 oz.;