Tough Guys - Panasonic TS7 Vs Olympus TG-5

When the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 was released, it reopened the debate for which rugged compact I would pack for my outdoor adventures. Would the TS7 dethrone my current favorite, the Olympus Tough TG-5?

cameras-front-1024.jpg Side by Side - Panasonic TS7 on the left with the Olympus Tough on the right.

Here's what tempted me with the Panasonic TS7:

  • 20.4MP High-Sensitivity MOS Sensor
  • 4.6x Zoom Lens, 28-128mm (35mm Equiv.)
  • UHD 4K 30p and 24p Video Recording
  • 1.17m-Dot Electronic Live View Finder
  • 3.0" 1.04m-Dot LCD Monitor
  • 4K Photo Modes and Post Focus

With the Panasonic, I would get more resolution (20MP vs 12MP), greater zooming range (28-128mm vs 28-100mm), an electronic viewfinder, and a higher resolution LCD back screen. Both cameras have 4K video recording, but the Panasonic has the 4K Photo mode.


So I carried the TS7 around with me for a couple weeks of summer activity. The Jpegs still images were very good. (But, I was surprised that I did not have a RAW option like I do on the Olympus Tough.) I particularly liked the the burst mode in 4K Photo. In this mode I could capture at 30fps, then choose the frame that I wanted for the still image at 8MP resolution. This was my favorite feature on the Panasonic. It's fun and effective.

Little Girl Watching Ride "Little Girl Watching Ride" - Captured in 4K Photo mode with Panasonic TS7

I was also looking forward to the 4K video capture. But I had a difficult time focusing. Once I started the video recording, the camera seemed to have a mind of its own in terms of choosing focus point. This could be due to my lack of experience with the device. But even when I sat down and tried to figure it out, I still walked away with clips that were not sharp. This was my most disappointing feature with the TS7.

cameras-back-1024.jpg The electronic viewfinder is visible on the black TS7. The Olympus doesn't have that feature. Instead, the GPS module sits atop the camera.

The built-in electronic viewfinder was a welcome addition. I didn't use it as much, however, as I thought I would. In part, that was because the high resolution LCD was quite good and convenient. Also, the EVF is a bit small and not that enjoyable for composing. So for me, the electronic viewfinder is in the category of nice to have when I need it, but not much beyond that.

So what's the bottom line here? Am I going to switch from the Olympus to the Panasonic for my adventure compact? No, I'm not. Here's why.

Both cameras are tough and waterproof. So I can take either anywhere. But with the Olympus, I get RAW format, realtime GPS geotagging, smaller form factor, and a faster maximum aperture. Plus, the TG-5 is $379, $60 less than the TS7.

There were definitely things that I liked about the Panasonic TS7. I like its handsome good looks, viewing options, and the wonderful 4K Photo mode. But I struggled with its video capture, and I do miss having RAW for hard-to-tame contrasty lighting - something that I seem to encounter often during summer adventures.

Also, the built-in geotagging that the Olympus provides is top notch. I don't have to do anything, and the location data is added to my shots. The Panasonic has a feature that lets you add tags via your smartphone. It's not the same by any means.

So, would I discourage someone from choosing the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7? Absolutely not. It's a good camera that has a lot going for it. It's just not my favorite of the two.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.