By Denise Pietsch
After a week of diving in the Exumas with the TG-6 what I loved most about it was how compact it was, and how impressively it performed on macro and microscope modes. So, would I upgrade to the TG-7?
If you’re looking for a durable and rugged camera, there’s nothing like the TG series. They’re waterproof to 50 feet (15 meters), drop proof from nearly 7 feet (2 meters), and capable of withstanding freezing temps down to 14º F (-10º C).
However, the TG-7 is light on new features. The TG-7 offers a slightly enhanced front grip, a USB-C charging port and updates to the timelapse and interval shooting modes. And of course they wiped the Olympus name off the front and replaced it with the new OM Systems branding. None of these features will make the camera more enjoyable or effective to shoot in the water.
Sadly there's still no manual exposure mode, which is especially valuable in the challenging lighting situations underwater.
There's no doubting the durability of the TG series cameras, but that rugged durability means you're sacrificing creative control.
I am curious to try out the TG-7's new "Construction Mode" which boasts the ability to remove dust particles from photos. As the name suggests the mode is geared towards workers on a construction site but I wonder could it possibly be used to reduce the appearance of backscatter (floating particulate) underwater?
A small new detail around the camera’s lanyard mount make it an extremely tight fit in housings produced for TG-5 and TG-6 cameras. Before you take a file to the side of your TG-7, check out our update page to learn how existing housings can be modified to fit all three cameras comfortably. New housings shipping October 1, 2023 and later will be updated out of the box.
My Next Upgrade
With all this in mind, would I upgrade to the TG-7? Simply put: no.
The TG-7 came with a price bump putting it at US$549.99. For only $50 more, you can get a larger sensor, manual exposure control, interchangeable lenses, and better battery life with the Canon R100 and 18-45mm kit lens (US$599.99).
Yes, I was definitely impressed by the TG-6 and satisfied with my photos. But more than anything I was mostly just jealous of my dive buddies who were shooting compact mirrorless systems. That's why the next time I dive I want to be shooting the Canon EOS R100.
Next time I dive, I want to be shooting the compact, mirrorless Canon R100.
The Canon EOS R100 is built around a 24 megapixel APS-C size sensor. That’s almost 12 times the size of the tiny 12MP sensor in the TG-7. A larger sensor means more detail and better performance in low-light conditions. I found that my ability to crop photos was limted by the TG-6 resolution, and I won’t have that same problem with the R100.
Additionally, you’re looking at a lot more control over your image exposure with the R100’s Manual exposure mode. With the TG-series cameras you’re limited to automatic or semi-automatic exposure modes (Aperture or Shutter Priority). In these modes the camera often makes some bad exposure choices, leading to soft or washed out photos.
Life moves fast underwater. The Canon R100 provides the control you need to nail those dynamic underwater shots. Image taken with the Canon R100 inside an Ikelite Underwater Housing. © Nirupam Nigam
My suggestion is to learn more about underwater exposure through our series Underwater Exposure Explained: Aperture and Shutter Speed to see how manual exposure opens you open to a lot more creative control that will take your underwater images to the next level. Also note that manual exposure mode on your camera is different from manual exposure for your strobes. We offer TTL strobe options for both Canon and OM Systems (Olympus) cameras.
While both cameras have shutter speeds necessary for underwater use, the Canon R100 provides a wider range of shutter speeds than the TG-7. Topside photographers can use the R100's faster shutter speeds for sports or bird photos. The slower shutter speeds make it possible to capture creative motion blur, light painting, and astro photography.
Sharp focus will make or break your image and Canon is an industry leader when it comes to autofocus. The R100 is equipped with Phase Detection Autofocus, unlike the TG-7. This means you can count on more reliable subject tracking with the R100 when you're trying to get that shot of a fast moving animal underwater.
Interchangeable Lens Options
If you're familiar with the TG-6, then you're probably already familiar with the FCON-T02 lens. It'll take you from Wide Angle Fisheye to Macro on the same dive. It is perhaps the best reason to stay with the TG-series cameras. It provides incredible versatility with an un-matched portability and ease of use.
Going the mirrorless route with the R100 opens you up to a wide range of lens options. The Canon18-45mm kit lens (the lens sold together with the camera body) is a great starting point. From there I will probably go to either the Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye for wide angle or the Canon RF 85mm Macro for close-up work.
The DLM port mounting system on the Canon R100 housing also offers an option to use the large diameter 8" Dome Port which is amazing if you're interested in shooting split-shots (half-in, half-out of the water).
The Canon R100's interchangeable lens options means you'll have the ability to adapt to all kinds of shoot scenarios. Find the best RF-Mount lens option for your underwater goals with our lens guide.
If you’re like me, you’re looking to upgrade to a camera that will also serve you topside. For me that mostly consists of pictures of my dog, my garden, and my very amateur attempts at lunar photography. The R100 will cover all of these scenarios.
The TG-series is extremely limited when it comes to telephoto options. While there's no practical use for telephoto lenses underwater, the telephoto lens options available for the Canon RF lens mount open up the doors for lunar and birding photography.
The TG-7 is still supreme if you absolutely want the smallest and lightest compact camera housing on the market. But it’s really amazing that the Canon R100 has put the power and versatility of an interchangeable lens system into a compact body form.
If you’re doing a lot of travel photography, a mirrorless camera is generally more comfortable to hand hold outside of the housing. Underwater the housing is well balanced and nearly neutral. It packs easily and adds only a few extra pounds to your checked luggage.
While you are adding some size and weight going with the R100, you're also adding the ability to manually expose your photos, a larger sensor, better autofocus, and higher quality images.
The Canon R100 inside the DLM Underwater Housing (left) compared to the TG7 Underwater Housing (right). While there is a small size differential it's worth it for the creative control you'll get with the R100.
The TG-7 definitely isn't worth replacing a working TG-6 camera. I’d rather put my money into a system that will allow me more control over exposure, higher image quality, better autofocus, and expanded creative potential.
Unlike the TG-7, you'll need the housing to be able to drop the Canon R100 from 6ft into freezing water. Thankfully that housing is ergonomic and easy to travel with.
There are a few more pieces and parts when you upgrade to mirrorless. So I appreciate that the Canon R100 Deluxe Kit comes fully assembled with the most important accessories and ready to drop the camera in. It has everything you need to get pro-level underwater photos on a budget and without having to think too much about what accessories you’ll need.
The Ikelite team has been so supportive throughout my journey from underwater enthusiast to underwater photographer. They're also here to help you with any questions you have as you get ready for your next dive.
Check out the detail on this macro image by Nirupam Nigam. Taken with the Canon R100 and EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. © Nirupam Nigam
The Canon R100 with Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye lens (with EF-to-RF adapter) is one of our favorite combos for underwater wide angle. © Nirupam Nigam
Denise Pietsch (pronounced “Peach”) currently manages Ikelite’s Photo School and social media presence. Denise hails from New Jersey, where she obtained a degree in Dance Therapy. After years teaching dance she migrated into the corporate world and eventually came around to Ikelite via the natural career path of fruit distribution and early childhood development. In the end, her lifelong love of photography and octopuses combined into the work she does now. In addition to sharing her energy and enthusiasm with the underwater community she also manages social media for her dog, Joe, collects vinyl records, and enjoys creating memories with her friends and family.