Top positive review
134 of 144 people found this helpful
Small upgrade in quality, big upgrade in utility
on March 9, 2013
I have used a (highly reviewed) 10MP f2.8 Canon SD790 from 2009 for the past few years, and have sought an upgrade due to common issues with such small point-and-shoot cameras (1) effects (vignetting, blurring) from lens aberrations that were especially noticeable in landscape photography (2) fragile construction. There have also been many circumstances when I have not been able to use the camera due to moisture or excessive dust during outdoor activities.
(Note: Before discovering the TG series, I was convinced to buy either the Panasonic LX7 or Sony RX100 for sake of their extremely high image quality.)
Photo Performance: small but noticeable upgrade
At first glance, the SD790 photos seemed to be better with bolder colors and better definition. But on closer inspection, the difference is only due to a lower average exposure on the SD790, and higher processor contrast. Carefully analyzing small leaves and tree trunks, the TG-2 does show much more detail. On 0% zoom, test photos do show some pixel distortion in the 4 corners of the shot, but zooming in a tiny bit (about 10%) is enough to remove the distortions from your shot. Low light photos give great colors, and the f2.0 lens is way better than most cameras, but the noise level will never be DSLR quality; head to the Sony RX100 or bigger if that is your priority.
I have not used the super macro yet, but professional reviews claim it is very good.
Add-on Lenses: extra expensive plus
The two extra lenses are probably not quite worth the $110 each, considering that you also need a $20 adapter (I recommend 1 each). They are both small, high quality glass. I have had very satisfying results with the teleconverter, which should be most useful for shots taken from a fixed location (sports, performance, cruise) but is of course not as useful as a normal zoom lens. Because of the heavy lens vignette, the camera must use it's maximum optical zoom (4x) to use the teleconverter. Thus any further zooming uses digital zoom only. Minimum zoom shots are 100% equivalent quality to the best non-teleconverter shots, but at higher zoom. From that point, further digital zoom still looks nice, but naturally collects noise. If you want a variety of shot composition options, you will have to quickly take the teleconverter off, and switch the camera mode back to normal. This is easy and quick, but not seamless, about 5 seconds.
The fisheye lens has a mild fisheye effect, and confers a wider-angle as well. No intelligent thoughts on this one yet.
Extra Features: this wins it
If you're going to pay the extra cash for this camera, pay it for the extra features. You can pull this out in ANY situation, at ANY time (rain, snow, boats, dust, rocks, children) without fear of destruction. Seeing how much my SD790 has aged (lost screws, creaking case) and with stories of zoom failure in extended dust exposure, the value of a sealed case (and sealed zoom) is more than underwater novelty. There have been many awesome experiences in the past few years that I was not able to capture because of moisture, dust, etc. Despite that security, my only fear is that the lens glass will be scratched even though it is recessed. The GPS tagging is also a blast to help you relive your adventures in the future.
If you're looking for a small point and shoot that takes the best possible photos, don't buy this (get something cheaper and smaller).
If you're also considering mirrorless or larger cameras for the variable lenses and sensor quality, don't buy this (get something cheaper and larger).
This IS a camera for the adventurer/outdoorsman/chronic klutz that is also a discerning photography enthusiast. Without the lenses, this is a camera that you can use in absolutely ANY context without fear of destruction. You will get shots and videos that you could never consider with any other camera. Adding the expensive lenses into the package puts the camera into a strange limbo category that is well above any expensive point-and-shoot camera, but below any cheap mirrorless camera.
Personally, for my interests in extended outdoor adventures, quality + low-light photography, and creative composition (teleconverter + fisheye), this is an excellent camera. But I have definitely paid a high premium for that flexibility.
P.S. The two main reasons to purchase this new model instead of the TG-1 is (1) aperture priority mode to take advantage of the f2.0 lens (2) improved super macro mode.
P.P.S Comparisons with the soon-to-be-available Pentax WG-3 are appropriate with caveats (1) its larger 16MP sensor does not necessarily correlate with better shots; wait for the reviews (2)the WG-3 looks like a toy; I would not bring it to a wedding, etc. (3) the battery life is not as good (4) I see very little information about the new addon lenses.
UPDATE #1: Lens Adapters + Filters
I have added a rainbowimaging lens adapter with UV protector filter to protect the lens in pocket/etc, and there is no vignetting on the edges of the shot. However, the rainbowimaging adapters have a slightly less secure detent than the OEM products, so I recommend OEM adapters for the lenses.