Olympus TG5 settings for Underwater Photography

Photo & Video Training

Posted May 15th, 2021 by Elisabeth

The Olympus TG5 is a great little camera for the beginner underwater photographer and especially if you add some lights or are using a ring light. It is a small setup with minimal drag and easy to use. Here are just some tips I give my students to understand the basic settings needed to take good underwater photos.

What settings do we use if we photograph with video lights?

1. Before the dive
– Set the File to: RAW + JPEG: Raw is better to edit (more information in the file)
– Live View Boost: ON
– Exposure compensation: -0.3 stops. This function you can set with the top dial. When you set the stop lower, your shutter speed will increase (which is a good thing to reduce motion blur. It also improves the color and knocks out the highlights a little.
– ISO: set to 100-400; as low as possible. If you shoot with ISO over 400 you’ll see more noise in your photos.


– White Balance: set it to auto WB
– Focus: Autofocus AF
– Flash: OFF; we are using video lights
– Image stabilization: ON
– Frame rate: Single; if you want to shoot a fast moving subject set it to Single High so it fires quickly. Otherwise Single is good to really focus on taking the right shot.

2. In the water
– Mode: P or microscope (P if you shoot from further away and microscope if you can get close)
– Shutter: 1/125 or higher. You have no control over this so set the other settings so you can obtain them (-0.3 EV and ISO higher for example)
– Working distance: 1-6 inches because of the reach of the video light!
– Zoom: as needed
– Focus: On the critical area (eyeballs/rhinophores)
– Light Power: High: 2000 for flood or 1200 for spot

What is the advantage of using video lights vs strobes?
1. The camera can determine the proper exposure
2. You see what you get
3. Nearly perfect exposure with every shot

What are the limitations?
– Not as bright as a strobe, so it’s more difficult for wide angle
– Close range only
– You can’t separate the foreground from the background
– More motion blur so you need a higher shutter speed

Macro photo goals!
1. Clean dark background, no backscatter
2. Sharp focus on the critical area

Pro tips!
– Avoid the red glare by taping, masking or coloring the red ring black
– Avoid to lighten up the water in between your subject and the lens to avoid backscatter
– Shoot – review –adjust: take multiple shots to get the best results and if you are happy with your shot, take 1 more and get closer.

Advanced settings
Custom modes for wide and macro
C1: Best settings for macro mode. Go to the menu and assign to C1
C2: Best settings for Wide Angle. Go dial Aperture priority (1/125 – F8 – -0.7 – ISO 400 – WB underwater)
The custom settings can be adjusted underwater, but won’t save in the pre-set.
Color space settings: Set the colors to Adobe RGB instead of sRGB if you want to have the best color space for printing your images. sRGB is better for monitors and screens (social media)
Image review time: set to 2 seconds. Enough time to check your image and fast enough to shoot again.

Wide Angle natural light

1. Before the dive
– Set the File to: RAW + JPEG
– Live View Boost: ON
– Exposure compensation: -0.1 stop.
– ISO: set to 100-400; as low as possible. If you shoot with ISO over 400 you’ll see more noise in your photos.
– White Balance: set it to auto UW mode or WB manually on your hand or a grey/white slate
– Focus: Autofocus AF
– Image stabilization: ON
– Frame rate: Single; if you want to shoot a fast moving subject set it to Single High so it fires quickly. Otherwise Single is good to really focus on taking the right shot.

2. In the water
– Mode: A=aperture priority: F8.0 for sharper corners
– Shutter: 1/125 or higher. You have no control over this so set the other settings so you can obtain them EV and ISO higher for example)
– Working distance: 1m or closer for better colors
– Zoom: no
– Focus: On the foreground/closest subject
– Light Power: natural light, so stay shallow for nicer colors

Hopefully these tips will help you to get the great shots you wanted out of your TG5!

 

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Photo & Video Training FAQs

How deep can the TG-5 go?

Without a housing you can take the TG5 to 15m which is great fro snorkeling and shallow dives. With the Olympus housing you can take it to 45m and you have access to all functions on the camera.

What is a ring light?

The Weefine ring light is used best for (super)macro, or subjects where the working distance makes it difficult to use external lights to lighten up your critter. The ring light improves images because it produces an even lighting. The ring light gives you 1800 lumens (continuesly) with 4 different power levels (100%, 75%, 50% and 25%) and can be easily mounted on any 67mm port or any adapter. On the highest power level your battery will last about 45 minutes so make sure you have an extra battery for that 2nd dive.

 

 

What is so great about the Olypus TG5 camera?

The Olympus TG-5 camera has a microscope mode which makes your super macro so much easier. No need for wet macro lenses there, just the camera in this mode is enough! Think hairy shrimp, sheep nudi…there is no critter too small to shoot.

 

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