Olympus announced a new rugged camera this morning, called the TG-1. Olympus makes and sells a lot of tough cameras, but this one's a little different: rather than cramming as many features as possible into a rugged body, Olympus basically just wrapped a coat of armor on the XZ-1, one of its best point-and-shoots. The TG-1's spec sheet reads like a high-end digital camera, not a rugged shooter: it has a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, an f/2.0 lens with 4x zoom from 25-100mm, ISO range up to ISO 6400, 1080p video recording, the same Truepix processor and autofocus system that power the OM-D E-M5, and a 3-inch OLED display. Of course, it's also shockproof, waterproof to 40 feet, dust-proof, and everything else you'd expect from a rugged camera. It also has an improved GPS system, reps said, which is accurate to within 10 meters, along with a compass. The camera will be out in June for $399.99.
We've long asked camera manufacturers why rugged cameras have made performance sacrifices, and the answer has always been a combination of price constraints and simple physics. Olympus thinks it has solved the problem, and found the right medium between a high-end point-and-shoot you'll want to use, and a tough camera you won't be afraid to use in precarious places. There were a few tradeoffs that remained — the TG-1's sensor is a little smaller than the XZ-1's, for instance — but this definitely appears to be a step up in quality for rugged cameras.