This may surprise a few readers, but I recently added a new camera to my kit… an Olympus TG-5. The reasons for adding this new gear are sprinkled through this new posting. This article features a selection of Olympus TG-5 spider images captured handheld today at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington Ontario.
Click on images to enlarge.
I’ve been operating my client video business without having a ‘tough’ camera in my kit for a few years now. From time to time I need to mount a camera on a tow motor or other type of moving industrial equipment. I’ve never felt comfortable putting my Nikon 1 gear at risk and decided it was time to fill this void in my kit. Being able to shoot at the wide end of the zoom at f/2 was another factor for me.
Another consideration was occasionally shooting still photography in very wet conditions. During our most recent trip to New Zealand we dealt with quite a bit of rain. Rain sleeves do offer some protection, but in hard, driving wind and rain it was difficult to ensure my gear wasn’t going to get wet.
So, I started doing some research and actually read some camera reviews for the first time in over three years.
The Olympus TG-5 quickly jumped to the top of my list. Having shot with my Nikon 1 gear for over 5 years I knew enough not to rule out a camera based on sensor size. I liked the idea that Olympus had reduced the megapixels in the TG-5 (i.e. 12 MP) down from the TG-4 (i.e. 16 MP). I also liked that the small 1/2.3″ sensor utilizes BSI design. These two factors caused me to think that the noise would likely be acceptable to about ISO-1600. As you review the images in this article you’ll see quite a few of them were shot at that ISO.
The Olympus TG-5 allows me to shoot in RAW which was another capability that I wanted. Obviously I’m still experimenting with how to handle these files in post. Do they take more work than my Nikon 1 files? Yup, for sure… but that’s what I expected.
Make no mistake, this is a point-and-shoot camera that does not offer the level of controls that I would have ideally liked. As is often said… every piece of camera gear comes with some sort of trade-off. The Olympus TG-5 only has P and A settings… no manual shooting. And, even then the amount of flexibility with the A setting is very limited. All of this will take some experimentation so I can better understand how to effectively use the camera.
One of the capabilities that really intrigued me was the ‘microscopic’ shooting feature. This allows you to basically put the camera almost right on top of something when shooting in this macro mode. I used this setting for the bulk of my images in this article. The depth-of-field is very narrow when in this mode, but the camera does grab focus quite well.
As you can clearly see in the image above, the depth-of-field is so narrow that the claw on the left is slightly out of focus. So… lots of practice and experimentation ahead for me.
The shooting conditions today were crazy with a bunch of grade school children, along with their parents, crowding the small exhibit area. Tons of reflections. Fingerprints all over the glass. Constant bumping and squealing. Spiders and other critters hiding in their glass enclosures. Overall it was perfect for a test photo session! I figured if I got anything usable today, the TG-5 had promise.
As part of my test today I shot these same specimen with a Nikon 1 J5, some extension tubes, and 1 Nikkor 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 and 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 non-PD zooms. To my surprise it was no contest for this type of extreme close-up work. The Olympus TG-5 produced far more keepers shooting in ‘microscopic mode’ than I was able to get with my Nikon 1 gear. There’s no question that shooting right up against glass, while being extremely close to a subject is a very specialized, niche application. It is one that the TG-5 handled well.
The final images in this article are of ‘spider parts’ shot using the TG-5’s microscopic mode. The subject spider for the balance of the photographs was a Goliath Bird Eating Spider. This spider is quite large… about the size of an average man’s hand. As you can see in the photograph above… a big spider with very small eyes.
The Goliath Bird Eating Spider was very active in its enclosure and only remained still for a couple of seconds at a time. This allowed me to test how quickly I could change focus points (there’s only a block of 25), frame my shot, and capture it.
Here’s a few of the spider’s legs. I had never seen the joints in a spider’s legs before… so I explored a bit further.
And, then even further…
I also captured a glimpse of the back of a leg joint…
And likely my best capture of the day… a leg image showing two joints.
I had a lot of fun today with my first attempt mucking about with the Olympus TG-5. It will take some time to learn how to get the most out of the camera. The Olympus TG-5 will never replace my Nikon 1 gear… but it does bring some niche capabilities that I need, to my camera bag.
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held using camera gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
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