You know what’s one of the toughest things to find these days? Freedom. And we don’t mean just that stars and stripes kind of freedom, but that true, feel-it-in-your-bones, electrifying sense of being wholly unburdened and unbound, rid of any sense of duty to nothing but the moment. That kind of freedom.
And that freedom usually isn’t a well-paved trail. It usually isn’t mapped out perfectly, and it doesn’t come in handy packages or with instructions. This kind of freedom takes a lot but leaves you wanting for more. Dare to try?
Thus has OM SYSTEM introduced the Tough TG-7, the first entry in the wildly popular line of ultra-rugged point-and-shoot cameras under the OM SYSTEM aegis. It’s a comforting sight for fans of the Tough series, as there are precious few non-“action” cameras that are also designed for a balance of convenient usability and extreme durability, and the Tough TG-X cameras have been solid, proven performers.* On spec, the OM SYSTEM Tough TG-7 looks like a worthy addition.
The fast facts
The TG-7 is built around a 12 MP 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor (larger than most point-and-shoots or phones) and the same TruePic VIII processor found in OM SYSTEM’s Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens cameras. Despite its flat, captive design, the lens is a fast 4x zoom covering a 25–100mm 35mm equivalent field of view. The maximum aperture ranges from a very bright f/2 on the wide end to a respectable f/4.9 on the telephoto.
ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 12,800, with a little extra stability coming from a built-in sensor stabilization system. Video maxes out at 4K 30p (102 Mbps), but at lower resolution can capture up to 120 frames per second for slooow motion. For stills, the most rapid burst mode will capture 20 fps, with a short buffer of pre-shooting.
Aside from the 3″ monitor, points of interface include a USB-C cable (for charging but not PD), micro HDMI, WiFi, and Bluetooth. The battery is rated to last about 330 shots on a charge—room for plenty of adventure between battery-swap breaks!
The defining feature of the Tough TG-7 is, of course, how tough it is. The body is ridiculously meticulously sealed, including double-locks on openings like the battery cover, and built like a fine race car. But how rough and tumble can you get without introducing a stumble?
- WATERPROOF to 50 feet
- SHOCKPROOF to 7 feet
- FREEZEPROOF operation in temps as low as 14°F (-10°C)
- DUSTPROOF with an IP6X rating
- CRUSHPROOF to 100 kilogram-force (roughly 220 pound-force)
- Non-slip grip improved for a confident grasp
You’ll also find GPS, compass, pressure, temperature, and acceleration sensors, all of which can be accessed without taking a photo by pressing INFO while the camera is off.
Of course, all this would be pointless if you can’t get great photos. To this end, a dual-pane lens cover will prevent fogging, while an anti-reflective coating on the whole cover will keep that protection from introducing ghosting or flares.
So many modern photographic advancements are hidden away in the behind-the-scenes processing capabilities of cameras. Check out some of the brilliant features built into this pocketable camera:
Built-in timelapse creation with a max intervalometer count of 299 and Live Composite for single-frame merges.
Art Filters to make more creative moments simple and fruitful.
HDR to expand dynamic range possibilities tremendously.
Focus stacking to combine up to 10 images in-camera (see the sample dew-drop photo below) and focus bracketing to automatically capture up to 30 differently-focused images for later processing into a seamless result.
Construction Mode is designed for professionals who need a camera in the field. Not only can the body withstand some preeetty tough conditions, the images can be automatically processed to delete dust, brighten shadows, properly display blueprints, stitch panoramas together, and so on. Get great job-site results without having to spend all day training!
The close shooting capabilities of this camera deserve special mention. Somewhere along the line, the premier line of rugged compact cameras made a name for itself as being equally outstanding at macro photography, and the OM SYSTEM Tough TG-7 has not hidden the shine here. The TG-7 offers focusing as close as a mind-boggling 0.39 inch with a max magnification of 7x. That means that the physical footprint of the item on the sensor is seven times as large as the actual item. Holy moley! That’s beyond the ability of the human eye!
The TG-7 even has a “microscope mode” to allow you to use the camera not only as an image capture device but also a tool for real-time observation. An optional ring diffuser (pictured here) cleverly redirects the built-in flash for stunningly perfect macro lighting while hardly adding any bulk to the camera.
Speaking of accessories… not only can this camera go deep underwater, you can go deep into the Tough System. There’s not a point-and-shoot around with this breadth of expandability. There’s a lens adapter which can be paired with a telephoto extension, two kinds of fisheye, or an additional protective filter; waterproof remote; float strap; sport holders; ring light; the aforementioned macro diffuser; and an underwater housing that will take you all the way down to 147.5 feet! That housing has mounts for lighting, too—a professional solution.
The Tough TG-7 hardly needed an explanation, but I couldn’t help myself from waxing rhapsodic about its numerous good points. If you find yourself similarly enthusiastic, pre-order yours now in-store or online. Next stop: big adventure!
*Anecdotally, without making any claims about any camera’s durability, I saw one get run over by a car—full tire coverage—and survive. Yow!