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 – an entry level, 4K, 20MP, Micro Four Thirds camera with contrast detect AF?

• These are the best Olympus cameras (OM System) right now 

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, I need a big sling bag to hoist the lenses. Even with a Canon EOS M50 Mark II or Fujifilm X-T4, you need space to accommodate the chunky lenses. 

(Image credit: James Artaius)

The Olympus primes, like the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, 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)
Best Micro Four Thirds lenses
Best Micro Four Thirds cameras

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a 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 like 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, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. 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.