Olympus TG-6 Underwater Camera Review

Olympus TG-6 Underwater Camera Review

August 4th, 2019


Olympus TG-6 Underwater Camera Review

Looking for an exceptional budget underwater compact camera line? Look no further than the Olympus TG-6. Renowned for its durability, remarkable image quality, and affordability, the Olympus Tough series stands out as a top choice in the market. With its waterproof capabilities and rugged design, the Olympus TG-6 is a worthy successor to its popular predecessor, the Olympus TG-5

Since its release in May 2017, the Olympus TG-5 has been the preferred option for compact and macro underwater photographers. However, after two years, photography enthusiasts have eagerly awaited an upgraded version that surpasses its predecessor's excellence. Enter the Olympus TG-6, launched in May 2019, along with the Olympus TG-6 Underwater Housing. While the Olympus TG-6 generated mixed reviews, it primarily appears to be a firmware update with minor cosmetic alterations and a well-executed PR campaign. If you already own the Olympus TG-5, it might be wise to hold off on upgrading and await the potential arrival of the TG-7. Patience could reward you with an even more impressive camera in the future.

Olympus TG-6 underwater review

The Olympus TG-6 in action during our real-world tests


When it comes to the Olympus TG-6, you'll be delighted to discover its exceptional features that make it stand out as an incredible camera. Not only does it offer remarkable value for its price, but it also reigns as the ultimate choice within the Olympus Tough camera series. What sets this camera apart is its dedication to enhancing underwater photography, making it a must-have for enthusiasts in this field. If you haven't had the opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring macro capabilities of the Olympus Tough compact camera line, now is the perfect time to delve into the Olympus TG-6. Renowned for its unparalleled image quality-to-size ratio, unbeatable durability, stunning macro functionality, and a wide range of superb underwater accessories, the Olympus Tough series never fails to impress. Both underwater photographers and snorkelers can rejoice, knowing that the latest updates primarily focus on optimizing the camera for underwater usage. So, without further ado, let's delve into the wonders of the Olympus Tough TG-6.

Status: Available for Pre-order

U.S. MSRP Olympus TG-6: $449.99

Jellyfish photographed with the Olympus TG-6 in an Ikelite TG-6 housing, Ikelite DS 51 strobe, and RC1 TTL converter. 1/100, f/14, ISO 100


Bluewater Photo Olympus TG-6 Camera and Housings:

Olympus TG-6 Camera

Ikelite Olympus TG-6 Housing

Nauticam Olympus TG-6 Housing

Isotta Olympus TG-6 Housing

Olympus TG-5 Underwater Housing PT-059


Our Top Olympus TG-6 Underwater Bundles and Packages:

Olympus TG-6 Snorkel Package

Olympus TG-6 Macro Package

Olympus TG-6 Video Package

Olympus TG-6 Ultimate Package

Olympus TG-6 Housing and Strobe Package

Olympus TG-6 Camera and Housing Bundle

Great Value Package for the Olympus TG-6



Jump to a Section

TG-6 Specifications  |   Key Upgrades  |   TG-6 Features  |   Implications for Underwater Photography

 Wide Angle  |   Macro  |   Video  |   Underwater Lighting    

Underwater Housings  |   Best Packages  |   Sample Images  |   Conclusion  

Check out the Olympus TG-6 Settings Guide on UWPG

Olympus TG-6 Camera Specifications

Key Upgrades from the TG-5

Anti-reflective coating to glass around sensor (reduces flare and ghosting)

Better LCD: 1.04 million dots compared to 460 K dots on the TG-5

4K video with super macro autofocus

Microscope mode (supermacro autofocus) available in program and aperture priority mode

Video available in program and aperture priority mode

Focus stacking and focus bracketing

More underwater shooting modes/underwater white balance presets (aperture priority still yields best image quality)

Olympus TG-6 Complete Specs

12MP 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor optimized for low light (4000x3000 image resolution)

Olympus TruePic VIII image processor

Waterproof (50ft without housing), shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof

Fast f/2.0-4.9 lens with 4.5mm - 18mm focal length (equivalent to 25mm - 100mm)

Sensor-shift image stabilization (up to 2.5 stops)

Minimum working distance 1cm (in super macro mode)

ISO range 100 - 12,800

25 autofocus points with Single AF and Tracking

4K@30p video recording (approx. 102 Mbps bit rate)

High Speed Movie mode with 1920x1080@120fps / 1280x720@240 fps / 640x360@480fps 

4K timelapse video

Pro Capture mode for 20fps image capture

Shutter speed 4 sec to 1/2000 sec

Custom white balance (4 slots)

Built-in flash

SD storage (SD, SDHC, SDXC)

RAW and jpeg shooting

WiFi capabilities, including camera control via smartphone

Action track sensors record location, temperature, direction and altitude data 

Weight (approx): 250g / 8.72oz with battery & memory card 

Dimensions: 113mm x 66mm x 31.9mm (4.43in x 2.6in x 1.23in)

Battery life (CIPA): 340

Curious wolf eel photographed with the Olympus TG-6, f/6.3, 1/130, ISO 400 wet wide angle lens, Ikelite TG-6 housing, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, dual RC1 TTL converters.

Key Upgrades from the TG-5

Although the Olympus TG-6 has few significant upgrades from the TG-5, there are still some things worth talking about - notably an improved LCD, underwater white balance modes, 4K macro video, and changes to the program and aperture priorirty modes.

Enhanced LCD Resolution

With the Olympus TG-6, the back LCD screen resolution has undergone a significant improvement. Unlike its predecessor, the Olympus TG-5, which boasted 460 K dots, the latest Olympus TG-6 now showcases a stunning 1.04 million dots. While this enhancement may not directly impact your captured images, it revolutionizes the way you review them, simplifying the entire process. As an avid photographer, especially when immersed in the captivating world beneath the waves with the Olympus Tough series, I find myself frequently scrutinizing the images I've taken. It's crucial to ensure that every shot has achieved impeccable focus and exposure. Consequently, I warmly embrace this change in the Olympus TG-6, as it facilitates and streamlines my image review endeavors.

Underwater White Balance Modes

Olympus added three underwater white balance modes to the TG-6. For avid underwater photographers and videographers - it's still better to shoot with auto white balance with strobes or a video light. If you're shooting with ambient light, it's still better to bring a slate and shoot with auto white balance. But if you're not a super serious photographer or you're a causal snorkeler/free diver, these modes will be great for easily capturing some color in your images on the fly. 

More options while in Aperture Priority and Program Modes

With the Olympus TG-5, you had to move the ring dial to shoot in microscope or video mode. Now supermacro autofocus and video are both available in aperture priority and program modes. This means you don't have to switch to the microscope or video modes! It also means you can now shoot 4K macro video with supermacro autofocus (same as microscope mode). 

Periwinkles on eel grass. Olympus TG-6 in an Ikelite TG-6 housing, Ikelite DS 51 strobe, and Ikelite RC1 TTL converter

TG-6 Key Features

Body and Build

The Olympus TG-6, an exceptional camera that will revolutionize your photography experience, has been designed with utmost precision. The Olympus TG-6 shares a striking resemblance to its predecessor, the Olympus TG-5, ensuring a seamless transition for enthusiasts. Boasting unparalleled durability, it possesses the same remarkable indestructibility as the Olympus TG-5, making it freeze-proof up to -10°C, crush-proof up to 100 kgf, and shockproof from heights of 2.1 meters. Embrace the freedom to explore without limits. 

Maintaining its compact size, the Olympus TG-6 effortlessly accommodates the Olympus TG-5 underwater housing, ensuring compatibility between these exceptional devices. Moreover, the reverse holds true, as the TG-5 can also be seamlessly paired with the Olympus TG-6 Housing, unlocking endless possibilities for both cameras. Dive into a world of aquatic wonders with the TG-6's impressive waterproof capability, allowing you to submerge to depths of up to 50 feet. 

However, for those avid scuba diving enthusiasts seeking to capture the marvels of the deep sea, we highly recommend investing in an underwater housing. With this addition, you can delve into the realm of normal recreational scuba diving depths and document breathtaking moments with unrivaled clarity. Prepare to be mesmerized by the Olympus TG-6's LCD screen, which now boasts a significantly sharper resolution compared to its predecessor, the TG-5. 

For underwater photographers seeking to capture the perfect shot, the TG-6 offers an exciting upgrade: an anti-reflective coating applied to the glass surrounding the sensor. This ingenious feature significantly reduces flare and ghosting, enabling wide-angle enthusiasts to capture awe-inspiring shots even when shooting directly into the sun. Witness the magic as your photographs come alive, adorned with radiant sunballs and captivating lens flares. 

Wolf eel photographed with the Olympus TG-6 in an Ikelite TG-6 housing, wet wide angle lens, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, and dual RC1 TTL converters

Camera Controls / Ergonomics

When it comes to the Olympus TG-6, its controls and ergonomics take the spotlight as the most notable improvements compared to its predecessor, the Olympus TG-5. What's interesting is that these enhancements could have been implemented through a simple firmware update, eliminating the need for an entirely new camera model. 

Nevertheless, the Olympus TG-6 now boasts microscope mode and video functions, both conveniently accessible in program and aperture priority modes. This means you can effortlessly capture stunning Olympus TG-6 macro shots, wide-angle scenes, and high-quality videos without the hassle of switching between modes! While the Olympus TG-6 still lacks a manual mode, it compensates with additional underwater white balance presets, surpassing what the TG-5 had to offer. 

For optimal results, we recommend utilizing aperture priority mode with auto white balance and strobes. This combination ensures exceptional image quality. However, if you're into snorkeling photography and prefer to go without strobes, the underwater white balance presets become especially enticing. Moreover, these presets are depth-based, making them a valuable asset for free divers seeking a compact photography solution.

Sensor and Image Quality

The sensor on the Olympus TG-6 is still the same great 1/2.3” BSI CMOS 12 MP sensor. Having shot the Olympus TG-5, we can say with confidence that the image quality on the TG-6 is excellent for a compact camera of this size. The lowlight performance is surprisingly good with less noise in the image and faster processing times than the TG-4. If you want beautiful underwater images at an excellent price point, this camera will not disappoint. 

Sea star skin photographed with the TG-6 in microscope mode

Implications for Underwater Photography

Overall, the main upgrade in image quality is going to be the anti-reflective coating around the sensor. This will be welcomed by anyone who shoots regularly into the sun or in situations with high dynamic range. 

All other updates in design focus on ergonomics. It’s certainly easier to shoot with Olympus TG-6 macro, video, and wide-angle all being available on one aperture priority mode! So Olympus did, in fact, make an already great camera even better. We just wish there was more!

TG-6 Wide-Angle Shooting

When it comes to capturing breathtaking moments underwater, having the right equipment is essential. The Olympus TG-6 is already a remarkable camera, but with the addition of a wide-angle wet lens, you can take your photography to a whole new level. Let's delve into the benefits and explore some exceptional lens options tailored for the Olympus TG-6. 

By incorporating a wide-angle wet lens into your setup, you can significantly expand the field of view. This means that when photographing a subject of a specific size, you can position yourself closer, resulting in less water interference between the camera and your subject. This not only enhances the clarity of your subject but also improves lighting conditions, whether you're using video light, photo light, or a strobe. The result? Vibrant colors that truly pop. Moreover, the wider angle enables you to capture stunningly dramatic shots, particularly when dealing with sizable subjects like oil rigs, kelp forests, large marine creatures, captivating reefscapes, and captivating wrecks. 

For those looking to push the boundaries of wide-angle photography, our top recommendation is the UWL-04 Fisheye Lens. With an impressive 165-degree wide angle of view, this lens unlocks endless creative possibilities, allowing you to capture awe-inspiring wide-angle shots. Another fantastic option to consider is the Kraken KRL-01 lens, boasting a 145-degree angle of view, or its counterpart, the KRL-02 Wet Wide Angle lens, which offers a generous 150-degree perspective. Olympus also offers their own wet wide angle lens, the PTWC-01, delivering a 100-degree angle of view. To utilize the Olympus and Kraken KRL-01 lenses with the Olympus TG-6 Housing, a step-up ring (52mm > 67mm) is necessary.

Wolf Eel photographed with the TG-6

TG-6 Macro Shooting

With other compact cameras, the only real way to take great macro photos of small subjects is to use a wet macro lens (also known as a wet diopter). However, with the TG-6's amazing Microscope Mode, macro shooting can be done without using any wet wide angle lens. As mentioned in the above section on  Microscope Mode, the TG-6 can focus on a subject only 1 cm away, and by using the optical zoom can get a magnification of 7x without using the added digital zoom capabilities. 

If you want to get even more macro functionality, to shoot super-macro, the  Bluewater +7 macro lens gives very good results. We recommend stacking 2 of these lenses for supermacro.

Sea urchin photographed by Allie Northey on her first ever dive with a camera!

Sample Video

The Olympus TG-6 can take amazing 4K video for a camera of its size! The details are wonderful and clearly better than the 1080p video that was available in earlier Olymput Tough models. However, with such a small camera, a 4K crop factor is there and expected. This means that ultimately, you will have less details than a camera with a larger sensor. But over the 4K quality is quite good. It is very simple to capture video with the Olympus TG-6 - it's just the quick press of a button. We took some stunning underater footage with the TG-6 and it handled dynamic range quite well. One of the important updates on the TG-6 for underwater video is the fact that you can now shoot amazing 4K macro video in microscope mode. 


Strobes, Flashes and TTL Capability

Underwater photography enthusiasts understand the importance of strobes. These external flashes are a game-changer, enhancing the sharpness and vibrant colors of marine life. Without strobes, subjects lose their true colors due to the water between them, the surface, and your lens. Fortunately, with the Olympus TG-6 and its compatibility with strobes, you can capture breathtaking underwater scenes like never before. Check out This Article About Strobes for more information.

If you're new to strobes, let's dive into the world of through-the-lens (TTL) settings. With TTL, your camera takes control of the strobe's power, utilizing its own light metering to ensure optimal exposure. The Olympus TG-6 transmits the internal flash trigger to your strobes through fiber optic cables, resulting in precisely timed bursts of light. Achieving optical TTL is a breeze when using fiber optic cables with renowned strobes such as Sea & Sea YS-03 (check out the Olympus TG-5 Package With YS-03), YS-01, YS-D1, YS-D2, Inon Z240, Z330, S2000, or D2000. Regardless of your shooting mode - be it P, A, or auto - TTL simplifies the process and delivers remarkable results. 

While the Olympus TG-6 showcases exceptional capabilities for underwater photography, there is one minor drawback to consider when using strobes. At maximum power, the internal flash requires approximately 4 seconds to recycle, resulting in a brief wait time between shots. However, in most cases, firing the flash at maximum power is unnecessary, allowing for faster consecutive shots. Additionally, the Olympus TG-6 offers a flash compensation function that enables you to reduce the power of the internal flash, further shortening the recycle time. With these options, you can minimize downtime and maximize your shooting opportunities. To ensure proper exposure with your strobe, our top recommendation is pairing the Olympus TG-6 with Ikelite DS strobes and the RC1 TTL Converter. This ingenious device harnesses the RC flash signal from your TG-6 and communicates the precise exposure requirements to the Ikelite DS strobes, guaranteeing accurate results with every shot. Please note that the RC1 TTL Converter is exclusively compatible with DS strobes. With this setup, all you need to do is point and shoot, confident that your images will exhibit flawless exposure. For the best results, we suggest using the DS 51 Strobes with the TG-6 and RC1 TTL Converter. If you're seeking exceptional lighting for wide-angle shots, the DS 160 Strobes are the perfect choice.

Quick Tips and Tricks for Getting Started with your Olympus TG-6

Check out the Olympus TG-6 Settings Guide on UWPG

The Olympus TG-6 is generally a user friendly camera but because there are no full manual controls, it does make it a little quirky underwater. If you want full control over your images than we recommend that you look at other compact cameras like the  Canon G7X Mark III and the Sony RX100 VII. If you just want an easy shooting experience and you don't care about the camera making decisions for you, the TG-6 is a great option. We have taken the TG-6 underwater and we have found some great tips and tricks for shooting with the Olympus TG-6 in underwater environments...

1. Get accurate exposure everytime: use the Ikelite RC1 TTL Receiver for DS strobes with the Olympus TG-6

This might sound like a mouthful, but using the RC1 TTL receiver is easier than it sounds. This device makes it so that your strobes properly exposure the photo with every shot without getting motion blur or a shallow depth of field. You won't ever have to worry about your photos being blown out or too dark. It really is just point and shoot! As we mentioned before, it's only compatible with Ikelite DS strobes. 

The way it works it the RC1 TTL converter is plugged into the sync cord port on your strobes. Then you plug a fiber optic cable from your housing's port to the RC1 coverter. The RC flash signal is transfered to the strobe via fiberoptics and interperated by the TTL converter to choose the proper exposure. 

Here are some recommended settings with the RC1 TTL receiver in microscope mode (our recommended best mode with the RC1 TTL converter):

  • Picture mode - natural
  • ISO 100
  • Auto white balance
  • 4:3 aspect ration
  • RAW format
  • Still IS ON
  • Flash - RC mode
  • Exposure comp 0 (adjustable)
  • Frame rate - single
  • Meter - spot - this is extremely important. Pick spot metering if you're using the RC1 TTL converter
  • Face priority - off
  • Accessory - off

2. Use Super Macro Autofocus Instead of Switching to Microscope Mode to Shoot Macro

With the Olympus TG-6 its even easier to shoot macro now! Instead of switching to microscope mode to shoot macro you can now select super macro autofocus in any mode. To do this click "ok" on the camera, select the super macro autofocus mode and you're ready to shoot macro without turning the mode dial! This will streamline your shooting process. 

Microscope mode doesn't let you select your aperture value, so if you want more depth of field in your macro shots - make sure to shoot aperture priority and use supermacro AF. This allows you to select a smaller aperture for more depth of field.

3. Use the custom menu to set a minimum shutter speed and maximum ISO in Auto ISO mode (for more manual control)

If you find that not being able to shoot manual is very frustrating or if you want to properly exposure your underwater shots, especially wide angle photos, using the custom menu is a great work around to not being able to control shutter speed. 

In order to maintain a high shutter speed while shooting wide angle, you will need to be in Auto ISO mode. Hit your menu button, go to custom menu "C", and select ISO-Auto set. Then you can set the upper limit of your ISO to 400 and your lower shutter speed limit to whatever you prefer. Any shutter speed from 1/125 to 1/500 should work. 


Olympus TG-6 Underwater Housings

There is great news for photographers looking to upgrade to the Olympus TG-6 - it is compatable with the Olympus TG-5 underwater housings! That being said, many high-quality Olympus TG-6 housings are available as well!  


Olympus PT-059 TG-6 Housing

The Olympus underwater housing for the Olympus TG-6 is compact and lightweight, with great ergonomics. It is rated to a depth of 45m (147 ft), and all camera controls can be accessed from the housing with ease. It can accept a variety of wet lenses for both wide angle and macro shooting, and most importantly, it is very affordable!


Purchase the  Olympus TG-6 housing


Ikelite HousingIkelite TG-6 Housing

Ikelite housings are made from an ABS polycarbonate blend, making it both lightweight and strong. This durable housing is rates for depths of 60m (200 ft). It features a side-mounted shutter release and a new zoom control, for easy operation. The housing port has a 67mm thread, making it compatible with multiple wet lens options, both wide angle and macro. Along with the Olympus housing, this is the most affordable TG-6 housing available. We highly recommend using this housing with Ikelite DS strobes and the Ikelite RC1 TTL converter for best exposure and easiest use from your TG-6.

Purchase the  Ikelite TG-6 housing



Nauticam housing

Nauticam TG-6 Housing

The Nauticam TG-6 housing, constructed from milled aluminum, was designed with a focus on ergonomics. It offers features found in their high end DSLR housings. 

  • All controls are clearly labeled, with an easy-to-identify bright red video recording button.
  • The patented rotary lock system is used, facilitating easy opening and closing, while still providing a secure latch system that will not accidentally be disengaged
  • Sculpted thumb grip and shutter lever make it comfortable to hold and use underwater
  • Depth rating of 100m (330 ft)

The housing includes a 52mm threaded port, allowing addition of different wet lenses (macro and wide angle) to expand your underwater shooting ability. In addition both a cold shoe and M10 mount offer multiple mounting points for additional accessories. Dual Fiber Optic Connections are included, with holes that fit the standard Sea & Sea style plug or bare ended fiber optic cables. The 52mm port is great for use with the KRL-02 wet wide angle lens


Purchase the  Nauticam TG-6 housing


Isotta TG-6 Housing

Isotta offers a top notch housing for the Olympus TG-5 and TG-6. The housing is made from high-quality thermo-coated & anticordal aluminum. It includes a back window to take advantage of the TG-6's high resolution LCD, and a flatport with an M67 thread for wet lenses. The housing also features

  • One handed open/close lock system
  • Double O-Ring seal for extra protection
  • Ergonomic button and lever placement with laser-engraved controls
  • Double lens threading for both 52mm and 67mm wet macro lens. This means no step-up rings required!


Purchase the  Isotta TG-6 housing




Best Olympus TG-6 Packages

At Bluewater Photo, we make our recommendations based on real-world shooting experience. We took the Olympus TG-6 and were very impressed with its capability. Therefor, we decided to put together some packages specifically designed to maximize the effectiveness of the TG-6 for different people and needs. Here are our top TG-6 packages: 

1.  Olympus TG-6 Snorkel Package - Includes camera, housing, wide angle wet lend, dual tray, spare battery, 64 gb memory card, and eneloop batteries. Perfect for snorkelers and free divers.

2.  Olympus TG-6 Macro Package - Includes camera, housing, tray, strobes, video light, fiber optic cables, arms & clamps, spare battery, memory card, and rechargable batteries. Perfect for divers to love capturing small critters.

3.  Olympus TG-6 Video Package - Includes camera, housing, wet wide lens, tray and flex arms, video lights, mounts, spare battery, and memory card. Perfect if you're looking to take advantage of the TG-6's amazing 4K video. 

4.  Olympus TG-6 Ultimate Package - The ULTIMATE PACKAGE! Includes everything you need to take amazing wide angle, macro, and video with the Olympus TG-6

5.  Olympus TG-6 Housing and Strobe Package - Perfect for anyone looking for a simple Olympus TG-6 package that still offers great lighting options.  

6.  Olympus TG-6 Camera and Housing Bundle - A simple bundle for anyone looking for an amazing camera at a great price point.

7.  Great Value Package for the Olympus TG-6 - The best accessories for the Olympus TG-6


Sample Images from the Olympus TG-6

Buffalo sculpin photographed with the Olympus TG-6. f/13, 1/50, ISO 400


Sea cucumber skin photographed with the Olympus TG-6 using supermacro autofocus in aperture priority mode - a new TG-6 feature! f/16, 1/80, ISO400


The eye of a buffalo sculpin photographed with the Olympus TG-6. f/18, 1/100. ISO 400


Sea pen photographed with the Olympus TG-6. f/16, 1/80, ISO 400


Sea star photographed with the TG-6 in microscope mode


Lions mane jellyfish photographed with the Olympus TG-6, wet wide angle lens, Ikelite TG-6 housing, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, and dual RC1 TTL converters. f/6.3, 1/160, ISO 400


Flatfish photographed in microscope mode with the TG-6, Ikelite housing, DS 51 strobe, and RC1 TTL converter


Despite relatively few updates, the Olympus TG-6 is looking like it’s the new top dog in the budget compact camera world. If you already own the TG-5, this may not be the upgrade of your dreams. However, if you are an avid snorkeler and diver and looking for a great compact camera, definitely consider the Olympus TG-6.


Bluewater Photo Olympus TG-6 Camera and Housings:

Olympus TG-6 Camera

Ikelite Olympus TG-6 Housing

Nauticam Olympus TG-6 Housing

Isotta Olympus TG-6 Housing

Olympus TG-5 Underwater Housing PT-059


Our Top Olympus TG-6 Underwater Bundles and Packages:

Olympus TG-6 Snorkel Package

Olympus TG-6 Macro Package

Olympus TG-6 Video Package

Olympus TG-6 Ultimate Package

Olympus TG-6 Housing and Strobe Package

Olympus TG-6 Camera and Housing Bundle

Great Value Package for the Olympus TG-6



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