The Ultimate Solo Travel Camera: Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

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Olympus PEN travel camera

When I first started travelling full time I went out in search of what I thought would be the perfect travel camera – a digital SLR that claimed to be weather protected, included a video function with manual focusing, and most importantly took a damn good photo.
It served me well.
But it was just a few months into my trip that I realised I had failed to make one important consideration: it was as heavy as a tonne of bricks. Given that I also shoot with multiple lenses depending on what I’m shooting, I was robbing myself of a precious extra 5-6 kilograms in camera gear alone.
Convinced I could solve the problem, I started shopping around for the perfect compact travel camera.
Introducing the Olympus PEN EPL7 – the answer to my problems and what I’m officially dubbing the perfect solo travel camera. But before you rush out and buy one, let me explain why to ensure its the right camera for you…

Olympus PEN


The biggest consideration for me in changing my camera gear has been to reduce the weight and size of my camera. The  PEN EPL7 changes this drastically, as the camera can fit inside one hand comfortably yet doesn’t sacrifice image quality for point and shoot enthusiasts. My next consideration was to have a good camera for my travel vlogs – for anyone not in with the interwebs lingo, thats a ‘video blog’. Typically for video blogs you turn the camera on yourself and speak to your audience as if you are speaking to an online journal. This camera is perhaps the best travel vlogging camera on the market, with a fold down lens that enables you to see yourself as you record (handy to ensure you’re in focus and in the frame – ha!). Also, the fold down screen enables you to look at yourself instead of the lens and the video will still show that you are looking into the lens and not checking yourself out (or simply checking you’re still in focus)!
IN BRIEF: Why I chose the Olympus PEN:
  • Lightweight & compact
  • High quality DSLR style shooting
  • Dubbed to be the world’s best selfie camera – great for vlogs!

Olympus PEN selfie camera

The Logistics:

So I’ve switched to the Olympus PEN EPL7- what are the specifics?
olympus specs

Olympus PEN EPL7

What I love / Don’t love

I’ve been shooting with the Olympus PEN EPL7 for a few months now and I have got to say, it has been a true lifesaver. The camera is so much lighter than my previous DSLR, as are the lenses I shoot with. The flip down selfie screen has completely changed the way I capture my travel vlogs and made it A LOT easier to capture great footage. I also love the wi-fi connection which enables me to send images and video straight from my camera to my iphone – a great little feature to upload quality images onto my instagram.
As much as I love my decision to make the switch, I’ll still be hanging onto my DSLR for a little while longer as I learn the ropes a little better. As with anything new, I’m having to learn from scratch how to take the photos I like with my new camera. Video has been a great success, but I’m still working on snapping the images I love with my new camera body and lenses (it’s a work in progress)!
Perhaps the only real criticism I have at this point would be the add-on flash, as I’m so used to operating with a pop-up flash on my DSLR. Luckily the flash comes included, its just that you have to go to the extra effort to plug it on each time (not really a big hassle, but worth mentioning).
 PRICE POINT: The Olympus PEN E-PL7 starts at $649 body only; $849 with 14-42mm lens from Olympus AU.

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    The Sunday Mode
    March 27, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing this review, it was very helpful. I was tossing up between the Pen E- PL7 and the EM 10 for travelling, in the end I’ve chosen the EM 10 because I really prefer to use the viewfinder and like the hand grip on the EM 10.

    The Sunday Mode
    March 20, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I have an upcoming trip and there’s no way I’m lugging around my huge DSLR, this sounds like the perfect camera to take it’s place- at least as far as travelling is concerned.

    January 27, 2016 at 2:40 am

    I just booked a month long solo trip to Europe, and I’ve been searching for the perfect camera, and thanks to this, I think I found it!! My Nikon d90 is just too large to take, and I love that this has a selfie feature. I’m gonna have to learn how to take a proper selfie now though! 🙂

    October 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Which lens do you use for vlogging?

    Photo Clipping Service
    October 17, 2015 at 2:12 am

    I prefer DSLR for outdoor photography. Specially natural photo shoot. I love Olympus for my indoor product photography for e-commerce website.

    August 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Another happy owner of a Sony a6000 here, but as Kerry said, I also miss having a flip screen.

    Thanks for the info!

    Michelle Nguyen
    August 18, 2015 at 6:40 am

    I stumbled upon your blog just the other day and I’m obsessed! i love all the tips and tricks you have especially with the posts you have on technology.
    Im a high school student who is deeply interested in photography, and I am looking for a day camera I can take with me for my vacations and my day to day adventures. I was leaning towards a gopro but seeing this should I go with an Olympus Pen EPL7 instead?

    Katie Collins
    July 27, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Lovely post! I’ve just bought one after reading such good things about the Pen. I’m a bit anxious about taking it abroad with me though as it’s actually quite a lot heavier than I thought it’d be – do you find it’s ok for when you’re out on trips and things? I have numerous trips planned for when I’m in Dubai, Australia and Bali this year and I’m worried having it in my bag all day will be an issue (i.e. when snorkelling/diving). Do you find it’s an ok size/weight for day trips, or would a smaller CSC be better?

    Katie. X

  • Travel Photography Tips: What to Look For When Taking Travel Photos | WORLD OF WANDERLUSTWORLD OF WANDERLUST
    July 22, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    […] So last year I switched to an Olympus PEN E-PL7 – a compact, lightweight, little box of genius. Since then taking travel photos has been much easier – mainly because it is a mere fraction of the weight to carry around, and there are so many handy settings for beginners that it is incredibly easy to use. You can read more on the specs of my camera here. […]

    July 9, 2015 at 4:32 am

    Hi Brooke,
    I’m looking to buy a camera to go traveling alone, im thinking of getting either this Olympus or a GoPro 4 silver. Which one would you recommend? I can only get one.
    Thank you!

    • Brooke Saward
      July 9, 2015 at 8:57 am

      Olympus – Gopro’s have much lower battery life and are harder to review footage 🙂

  • Learning about my Olympus PEN E-PL7 DSLR
    June 11, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    […] and if and when I did start to get better I would upgrade and never use it again. Then I found the Olympus Pen E-PL7 Lite on World of Wanderlust’s blog. (since I got my camera Jayne from Girl Tweets World has also found the Olympus Pen E-PL7 great to […]

    Victoria Kristine (BlasianGurl)
    June 6, 2015 at 6:46 am

    wow! This is perfect 🙂

  • Olympus PEN ja digijärkkärikoulu |
    May 30, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    […] Erinomaisen menestynyttä englanninkielistä World of Wanderlust -matkablogia kirjoittava tasmanialainen nuori nainen kuvaa muuten tällä samaisella Olympuksen kameralla, tai ainakin väitti näin blogissaan vielä tammikuussa. […]

    April 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I’ve just bought an EPl7, changing up from an EPL5. The wifi and the extra dimension of image stabilisation swung it for me. The selfie screen, not so much. It sits on my hip in a pouch and is a great walking around camera. I take it everywhere with me. Yes, I always have my iPhone, but the little Olympus is so much better at photos.

    I’ve got both the 14-42mm kitlens and the pancake variety. Nice range, not a bad lens. The pancake makes for a compact form, so it can go into a coat pocket or my hip pouch.

    But my walking-around lens is a Panasonic 20mm prime ƒ1.7. It doesn’t have the range, but it’s a lot faster. It is also smaller on the camera in use, because it doesn’t extend out when switched on. Coupled with the EPL7’s image stabilisation, it has amazing low-light performance. I have the little flash unit that comes with the camera, but I’ve never used it.

    Together, this makes a great allround camera. Good for street shooting or landscapes, a nice bit of bokeh for portraits or flowers.

    I began with Canon DLSRs, and while I love my 70D dearly, it is just too big and heavy for travel. That, and a couple of lenses, and I’m getting close to maxing out my carry-on allowance.

    My last big trip I had an Olympus OMD EM5. Even better image stabilisation, weather-sealed, two control wheels and featuring an excellent electronic viewfinder, it’s a lovely camera. I got some fantastic shots – the dungeons in a German castle where there was no artificial light at all, museum displays and so on. Great for no-flash photography in galleries. However that viewfinder hump makes this camera too big to slip into a pocket, or even a hip pouch. Otherwise it’s almost the same dimensions as the EPL7.

    But with the 12-40mm ƒ2.8 Pro lens (also weather-sealed) it’s a bit of a bundle. Nowhere near the size and weight of a DSLR, but it’s a combination that is a little awkward without a proper handgrip. So I went up to the EM1, which offers a better grip and wifi.

    So that’s what I’m taking overseas in a couple of days. The EPL7 with the fast pancake on the plane and for just walking around, the EM1 with the Pro zoom when I expect some serious photography. I have a sling pack which will carry the camera, a few bits and pieces, my iPad, waterbottle, Gorilla tripod, rainjacket and map.

    Even with a couple of other lenses (a 40-150mm zoom for distance work), the whole deal is a small, lightweight package, and I’m very happy with the images I get out of the Olympus boxes.

      Ken hope
      April 5, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      Sounds good enjoy.

    Priya Puri
    March 31, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for this review. As a professional photographer I have to take my heavy slr kit with me when travelling long term or for work…but it’s nice hear about a light weight option that I can use for my personal photos and with friends. My shoulder was broken last year after carrying my gear everyday for 6 weeks around Italy and I was coming to resent my heavy camera!

  • Travel Photography: Everything You Need to Know - WORLD OF WANDERLUSTWORLD OF WANDERLUST
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    February 6, 2015 at 2:28 am

    I wish you showed some side by side pictures from your Canon 60D and this new find. Thanks for the advice! I know what you mean by the troubles of lugging around a heavy camera all the time. The wifi must be a time saver as well!

    Characters & Carry-ons

      Ken hope
      February 7, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Hi I have lumix DMC-TZ40 wifi to cell + GPS does all I want.Compact.Cheers.

    Jaclyn (Cinnamon Street)
    January 30, 2015 at 4:53 am

    How do the pictures compare to your Canon 60D (that’s what I’m shooting with now also)

    I’m at the same point of considering other cameras, although I LOVE mine…but don’t know if I’ll miss the video and photo quality of the DSLR.

    January 29, 2015 at 7:31 am

    I looked into the Pen and it looks great, but I went with the Sony A6000 which is another great option. I just wish it had the selfie flip down!


    January 26, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    I;ve been researching mirrorless cameras lately because I want to upgrade from my current camera but in need of something smaller/lighter, and I think this has definitely moved up on my list of possibilities (despite not having built in flash!). I think the price of this camera makes it a winner.

    January 25, 2015 at 3:55 am

    I definitely need something smaller than my SLR but that’s as good quality. This sounds great!
    Autumn Leaves – Blogging Tips & Beauty Blog

    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel
    January 24, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Wow this is a great camera for bloggers! I use a Canon Powershot which is an amazing high-end point and shoot, but makes the blogging thing challenging. I do love my DSLR too though, even as bulky as it is!

    January 24, 2015 at 8:14 am

    This camera looks amazing! I’ve been casually shopping around for something to replace my (now somewhat ancient) DSLR and this seems like a great option. Awesome review! |

    Clipping Path Outsource
    January 24, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Thanks for this post and it make me to choice some option to take good pic.

    Michelle L.
    January 23, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    OMG I just bought this camera too and I made some of the same points in my review. It is the perfect bloggers camera, it really is. I’ve been using it for about 2 weeks now and I’m still blown away by how simple, light and beautiful the whole camera works. It’s one to keep and use for another 5 years!

    January 23, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I use the PEN E-PM1, which is the cheapest in the PEN range and absolutely love it! Such good quality photos, but not particularly heavy or big! xx

    January 23, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Awesome camera. Love the classic design too. Thank u for the review.

    Ken hope
    January 23, 2015 at 8:47 am

    No GPS.

    January 23, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Thanks for the review! For what I’m looking for this camera seems perfect!

    Marie @ Marie Away
    January 23, 2015 at 4:18 am

    I’ve been in a similar position of trying to find a substitute for my clunky DSLR camera. So far, I’ve been considering some of the mirrorless Fuji cameras, but it’s hard to take the plunge and make the investment! Thanks for this review, it’s something I’ll have to consider!

    January 23, 2015 at 4:10 am

    I really need to find something smaller and lighter than my DSLR to take with me on my trips. This has helped me in figuring out what I need – now I just need to figure out how to afford to buy one alongside saving up for my next trips!

    January 23, 2015 at 3:09 am

    Question – is it necessary to buy the kit with the 14-42mm lens, or will just buying the body alone allow me to ‘get the job done’? (I’m traveling to Europe in March and want to buy an investment camera that will take high quality shots, but I’m not a photography connoisseur and don’t feel that I need the extra bells and whistles). Thanks!

    Beverly Elaine
    January 23, 2015 at 2:41 am

    Brilliant post. I, too, have a big DSLR and have been looking for something much smaller, more concealable as its not too smart to walk around Buenos Aires with a full size camera. Thanks for the info!

    January 23, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Have you tried using any of the Sony NEX cameras? If you have, do you like Olympus PEN better than Sony NEX series?

    January 23, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Its quite cheap for being such a good and, most importantly, light camera!
    So thanks for the tip! I’ve been preparing myself to buy my first ever real camera but was a bit lost in the abundance of choices. This seems like a good one!

    January 23, 2015 at 2:02 am

    What made you decide against the OMD M10? I’ve been looking at that one for a while now but if this one is better, I might give this one a chance!

    January 23, 2015 at 1:52 am

    I totally agree it’s worth the buy! I have the Olympus OM-D E-M10 (which is pretty similar) and it’s so perfect for travel 🙂

    January 23, 2015 at 1:46 am

    Great review, I was considering picking up this camera but decided to go with the Sony a6000 (around the same price point). It is so nice to not have to lug a DSLR camera around, especially when traveling. Great investment!

    Danielle {Styelleish }
    January 23, 2015 at 12:43 am

    I’m in the middle of searching for the perfect camera for my needs, and so any reviews I find anywhere are super helpful! Thanks!

    January 23, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Great review. Shopping for cameras is always tedious and I love to read first hand reviews. I have the Sony A 6000 because of the size and picture quality but do miss the flip screen for when your taking pictures on a tripod with self timer.

    January 23, 2015 at 12:34 am

    Have been debating whether or not to switch to a DSLR. I had an Olympus previously and loved it. I’ve been using disposables for a while now and really like to the finish, though I might have to try this out!