Olympus TG-4 vs Sony NEX-7
The Olympus Tough TG-4 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2015 and August 2011. The TG-4 is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (TG-4) and an APS-C (NEX-7) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus Tough TG-4 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus TG-4 and the Sony NEX-7 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The TG-4 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the NEX-7 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-7 is notably larger (9 percent) than the Olympus TG-4. It is worth mentioning in this context that the TG-4 is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-7 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing. More than that, the TG-4 is water-proof up to 15m and can, thus, be used for underwater photography.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the TG-4 has a lens built in, whereas the NEX-7 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the NEX-7 and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the TG-4 gets 380 shots out of its LI-92B battery, while the NEX-7 can take 430 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the TG-4 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Olympus TG-4||112 mm||66 mm||31 mm||247 g||380||Y||Apr 2015||379|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
|3.||Canon SX700||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||250||n||Feb 2014||349|
|4.||Fujifilm XP140||110 mm||71 mm||28 mm||207 g||240||Y||Feb 2019||229|
|5.||Fujifilm XP120||110 mm||71 mm||28 mm||203 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||229|
|6.||Nikon W300||112 mm||66 mm||29 mm||231 g||280||Y||May 2017||389|
|7.||Olympus TG-6||113 mm||66 mm||32 mm||253 g||340||Y||May 2019||449|
|8.||Olympus TG-5||113 mm||66 mm||32 mm||250 g||340||Y||May 2017||449|
|9.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|11.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|12.||Sony HX80||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349|
|13.||Sony HX90V||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||360||n||Apr 2015||429|
|14.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|15.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329|
|16.||Sony NEX-6||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||345 g||360||n||Sep 2012||999|
|17.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The TG-4 was launched at a lower price than the NEX-7, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus TG-4 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony NEX-7 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-7 is 1204 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the TG-4 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-7 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the NEX-7 offers a higher resolution than the TG-4 (15.9MP), but the NEX-7 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 1.33μm for the TG-4) due to its larger sensor. However, the TG-4 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 7 months) than the NEX-7, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-7 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus TG-4 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus Tough TG-4 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|9.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|17.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the NEX-7 provides a faster frame rate than the TG-4. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the NEX-7 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TG-4 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus TG-4 and Sony NEX-7 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|9.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
The Olympus TG-4 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The TG-4 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-7 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The TG-4 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-7 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus Tough TG-4 and Sony Alpha NEX-7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|9.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the TG-4 offers wifi support, while the NEX-7 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the TG-4 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the TG-4 and the NEX-7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The TG-4 was replaced by the Olympus TG-5, while the NEX-7 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus TG-4 better than the Sony NEX-7 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus Tough TG-4:
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-7 requires a separate lens.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the NEX-7).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Water-proof: Is rugged and sealed and can thus be used for underwater photography (up to 15m).
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 7 months of technical progress since the NEX-7 launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-7:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (430 versus 380) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2011).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-7 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 12 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus TG-4 and the Sony NEX-7 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the TG-4 and the NEX-7 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Olympus TG-4||..||+||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2015||379|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|3.||Canon SX700||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||349|
|4.||Fujifilm XP140||..||+||..||3.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||229|
|5.||Fujifilm XP120||..||o||..||3.5/5||4/5||Jan 2017||229|
|6.||Nikon W300||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||May 2017||389|
|7.||Olympus TG-6||..||+ +||76/100||4/5||4/5||May 2019||449|
|8.||Olympus TG-5||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||May 2017||449|
|9.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|11.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|12.||Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349|
|13.||Sony HX90V||4/5||+ +||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429|
|14.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|15.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329|
|16.||Sony NEX-6||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||999|
|17.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Olympus TG-4 vs Sony NEX-7
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Olympus TG-4||Sony NEX-7|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||25-100mm f/2.0-4.9||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2015||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 379||USD 1,349|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus TG-4||Sony NEX-7|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||6.57 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VII||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1016|
|Screen Specs||Olympus TG-4||Sony NEX-7|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus TG-4||Sony NEX-7|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus TG-4||Sony NEX-7|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Olympus TG-4||Sony NEX-7|
|Environmental Sealing||Waterproof body (15m)||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||380 shots per charge||430 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
112 x 66 x 31 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.2 in)
120 x 67 x 43 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||247 g (8.7 oz)||400 g (14.1 oz)|
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