Getting ready for Costa Rica with the Olympus TG-5 Tough

You may remember me writing about a very exciting trip I am going on, to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. This trip is now only a week away. I am joining the team at Osa Conservation and hoping it will lead to lots more exciting possibilities in the future! As I will be in the rainforest, in rainy season with just about 100% humidity, I knew I was going to need a camera that I could take out without having to worry about the effects of the weather; the sort of camera I could use to document my trip, but that would also give me opportunities to still photography some of the wildlife there, particularly the incredible invertebrates that live in this area.

I did a fair bit of research, but was most impressed by a new camera just released by Olympus; the TG-5 Tough. The ‘microscope’ function and its impressive credentials regarding its ability to survive , unscathed, in rainforest conditions kept me going back to look at it. After looking at a range of other similar cameras, I felt that this Olympus  was going to offer me all I wanted in a camera that I could keep in my pocket and document the trip. Approaching Park Cameras, with whom I have worked with before, they agreed to lend me one for the trip to put it through its paces!

Advertised as a camera that is ‘up to the challenge’, the TG-5 Tough is the newest family in the ‘Tough’ range. You can read more about it HERE


I have been trying it out in a range of situations at home, to get used to the settings and to assess what it is capable of. I have been concentrating on the ‘microscope’ mode, which is the macro aspect of the camera. There are 4 modes within this setting; Microscope (as close as 1cm from subject), Focus Stacking (multiple images taken, shifting the focus & combining the images), Focus bracketing (as previous but you can set the settings) and Microscope Control  (optimised for close-ups with the subject magnified in the monitor.)

With lots of butterflies around in the garden, I spent some time with the camera just on the basic microscope mode. You can go as close as 1cm from your subject and the camera is quick to focus  without depressing the shutter.Some of these images have been cropped, but were shot in Jpeg and have very little adjustments, other than slight exposure levels changes.

The camera was easy to manoeuvre close to the subject and focussed almost instantly . allowing for a rapid shot, often needed with slightly butterflies! If the zoom was used whilst in this mode, a slight graininess was detected, but pretty impressive!

I also tried it out on a couple of smaller subjects…

I had another opportunity to push the microscope setting further when I visited Silver Trees Holiday Park, after Rob was checking out the night’s catches in the moth trap! I wanted to test out the Focus Stacking mode. Your camera and subject have to be still, as the camera takes a series of images, changing the focus slightly in each. It then combines the images into a composite image. One of the big difficulties with macro is getting a good depth of field, so I was interested to see how effective this was. I chose a Black arches moth, which was happy to pose on a log for me.

Initially, I just put the camera in basic microscope mode and took a series of shots, getting closer and closer…

I also attempted to show the impressive antennae on this pretty moth…

I was pleased with the detail and clarity of the shots as well as the exposure considering there was a lot of contrast in these shots and the light was not particularly good.

Next, I rested the camera on the log so it would not move, and set the camera up for focus stacking. Now, I was facing the moth, head-on. The first shot shows what the normal image would be; the head in focus but, rapidly, the wings become out of focus.

Single shot

Now, the camera takes multiple shots, shifting the focus slightly each time, to create a composite shot where the whole moth is in focus.

Focus stacking

Here it is again, with a slightly different angle…

Single shot

Focus stacking

I love this mode and was really pleased with the effects.

Now to some of the much smaller moths… this species is only about 5mm long and 1mm wide…. I took a shot with my finger so you could appreciate how small it was!

I put the camera into the Microscope Control mode to get this shot….

Not award-winning and cropped in, but good enough for some ID and as a record shot for tiny creatures! I tried on a few other species..

 

 

 

 

I hunted around for some more willing subjects and these little toads were  a good chance to try some low level shots. The TG-5 is small and easy to set really low on the ground or at awkward angles that I would struggle with , with my DSLR. I took this shot with one hand, whilst it sat happily on my other hand!

I then placed it on the ground, with the camera also on the ground right next to it. Again, I was pleased with the results. The colour representation is really good and the level of detail is brilliant.

I will be testing out some of the other features before I head off to Costa Rica, but for now, the results are looking good and I can’t wait to get this little camera out in the rainforests of the Osa Peninsula!