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Why the Olympus PEN E-P7 is the one camera I can't live without

Olympus PEN E-P7
(Image credit: James Artaius)

It's always there. Next to me. The Olympus PEN E-P7. It is quite simply the one camera I can't live without. 

Which may seem crazy to some. After all, in a world of 8K video, and 100MP medium format sensors, and animal eye detection autofocus, why the Olympus PEN E-P7 (opens in new tab) – an entry level, 4K, 20MP, Micro Four Thirds camera with contrast detect AF?

• These are the best Olympus cameras (OM System) right now (opens in new tab) 

The answer may not satisfy some, but it is simple: this camera is small yet mighty. It punches well above its weight. It's not big but it is clever. And other such clichés.

It's one of the smallest, sleekest bodies on the market. More importantly, though, so are its lenses. While APS-C, and even full frame bodies, can be small, their optics will never be as small as they can be on a Micro Four Thirds system. 

And this is the key. If I take out my Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab), I need a big sling bag to hoist the lenses. Even with a Canon EOS M50 Mark II (opens in new tab) or Fujifilm X-T4 (opens in new tab), you need space to accommodate the chunky lenses. 

(Image credit: James Artaius)

The Olympus primes, like the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 (opens in new tab), are absolutely tiny. They're literally the size of two travel tins of vaseline. They weigh barely over 100g. They're so small that I can fit three of them in the same pocket – so I can stuff them in a messenger bag the size of a sandwich, along with my phone and credit cards, and take them everywhere, every day. 

I no longer have to compromise lens choice; I've got an equivalent 18mm, 35mm, 50mm and 90mm focal range covered in prime lenses, if I want to. That's every focal length I need – and I don't even have to compromise with a zoom to get them all!

The flippy down selfie screen makes this a great option for when I want to take a selfie with better quality than my phone. And I can even control the camera from my phone, for remote shooting or triggering, and zip my photos back to it via WiFi in an instant. It's a genuinely viable replacement for the immediacy of my omnipresent phone camera.

But it doesn't compromise on quality. Is there are much detail or dynamic range or depth of field as there is on my R5? No. But I don't need there to be. Photos from this camera are more than good enough for double-page spreads in magazines. And they're certainly more than good enough for Instagram and Facebook. 

If I only get to keep one camera for the rest of my days, it's this. 

Read more: 

Olympus PEN E-P7 review
Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 review
Best Olympus lenses (OM System)
(opens in new tab)Best Micro Four Thirds lenses
(opens in new tab)Best Micro Four Thirds cameras (opens in new tab)

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James Artaius
James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.