Travel Photography Series: I Found The Best Travel Camera Ever

You may have noticed a slight change in the images I’ve been using on this blog for the past couple of weeks (which, I hope, are enhanced by the new blog layout!). Time to be honest here and say it out loud: I’ve ditched my old dSLR for a younger and thinner model. Midlife crisis, perhaps? ;-)

My back could no longer stand the bulk and weight of carrying my reflex camera and lenses around all day. Most importantly, it was an entry-level dSLR and did not perform as well as I would have liked it to; truth be told, I had neither the patience nor the budget to improve my skills and my gear. I wanted something light, powerful, simple to use, with changeable lenses and within my price range; in other words, I wanted the unicorn of travel photography.

After weeks of research, I finally committed to a camera that fulfilled all of my criteria and took the plunge: I bought the Olympus O-MD E-M10.

travel essentials camera

Is this the best travel camera there is? What I like about the Olympus OM-D E-M10

The weight

I’m so glad that I don’t have to choose between performance and portability anymore. At just 0.87 lb/396 g with battery (add a few more grams for the lens), it just doesn’t get better than this. My bag is light, my neck and back don’t hurt anymore and I don’t have to think twice about airlines’ pesky weight limits.

The changeable lenses

I wanted a lighter camera but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice performance; I do appreciate macro shots but sometimes I also need the bigger picture. This camera has changeable lenses, which I’ve taken advantage of. I’ve purchased three lenses:

  • 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R: The basic lens for the Olympus O-MD E-M10. The 3X electronic zoom is very handy and boasts near silent focusing.
  • 25mm f1.8 lens: Ideal for portraits and close-up shots. It has a nice natural brightness to it, requires very little post-editing work.
  • 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6: This is a wide angle lens that is both versatile and easy to use. There are better and more performant wide angle lenses out there, but they are also much more expensive. This is a great option for entry-level travel photographers.

If you’re on a smaller budget and can’t afford the wide-angle lens, this 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R add-on does wonders:

  • Wide angle converter: I didn’t want to carry three lenses so I opted for this nifty converter, which I am pleased with. I don’t use it all that often but when I do, I am always floored by the result. Very little vignetting and softness around the edges, an exploit as far as inexpensive wide angle technology is concerned. Be careful, though, as it only works with the aforementioned version of the 14-42mm lens, so make sure yours is compatible.

Wi-Fi connection

If I want to share photos straight to my social media channels or if I need wireless control, this camera makes it super easy.

LCD touchscreen

This is perhaps my favourite feature of the Olympus O-MD E-M10: I can pick all the settings and even force focus (the camera has an automatic focus feature, but sometimes I get creative) with a touch of the finger thanks to a fabulous 3″ tilting LCD touchscreen.

See What This Beast Can Do

best travel camera

Notting Hill

best travel camera

Close encounters in the desert

best travel camera

Ice cider tasting in Québec

best travel camera

Torii gates in Kyoto

best travel camera

Immortalizing a sushi class

best travel camera

Snow monkeys in Nagano

best travel camera

Enchanted Himeji Gardens

best travel camera

Great for food photography, too.

best travel camera

Some views!

best travel camera

Atop Mount Rigi in Switzerland

best travel camera

Ten Belles coffee

best travel camera

Great for travel, but also for portraits!

best travel camera

La maison du chou in Paris

best travel camera

Afternoon tea in London

travel camera

St. Pauls Cathedral

Should you switch to a mirrorless camera too?

A lot of travellers wrongfully think that good travel photos are synonymous with expensive dSLR camera. Let me tell you one thing: a good camera does not a good photo make. A lot of photos have good enough pixel quality to be printed as wallpapers, but who the hell wants a wall-sized crooked photo of a famous landmark in their living room? I’ve seen countless travellers take horrible photos with 3000$+ cameras because they have, for starters, no imagination, and also, no technique whatsoever. Equipment and talent are equally important in terms of travel photography.

That being said, I think that mirrorless cameras are the best option for amateur travel photography. This camera will do the trick without requiring any compromise on your part; the photos are good enough for you to print them and display them in your home proudly. I know I do! Because bulk and performance were my two biggest concerns, I am extremely happy with my decision to ditch my dSLR. I now exclusively shoot with my Olympus O-MD E-M10 and I’ve fallen in love with the touchscreen.

I paid roughly $2200 for the entire kit. It might seem expensive for what a lot of people consider a “small camera” but let me assure you that this is in no way a downgrade from a dSLR. Its somewhat steep price can be explained partly by the relatively recent arrival of mirrorless cameras on the market, and also by the Olympus’ extremely powerful yet lightweight features. Performance has a price, one that I was willing to pay for fuss-free, high-quality travel photography.

Where To Get The Olympus O-MD E-M10

Disclaimer: I have not been paid by Olympus to write this, I just genuinely love my new camera and I think it’s a good option for travellers. The post contains affiliate links, through which I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps reduce the expanding costs of running this site. Thanks!

What is your preferred travel camera? What are your best travel photography tricks?

56 Comments on Travel Photography Series: I Found The Best Travel Camera Ever

  1. Kathryn
    May 1, 2015 at 10:17 am (2 years ago)

    My camera died a horrible death- I hate being camera-less so looking for a new camera. I need blog-worthy and a vlogging/youtube one! So I’m thinking now, maybe an Olympus PEN or a Canon G7x (I think it’s called) but now I want to try yours!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 2, 2015 at 11:09 am (2 years ago)

      I would really suggest this one, Kathryn. It’s lightweight (compared to a dSLR), it’s highly performant and it offers a vast array of possibilities.

      Reply
  2. Jenny
    May 1, 2015 at 5:11 pm (2 years ago)

    I recently purchased the OMD M5 prior to my Japan trip. Carrying the canon Mark II while managing 2 kids was just too much. Glad to say what a huge difference it made! Quality is top notch!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 2, 2015 at 11:09 am (2 years ago)

      Glad to hear the entire line of Olympus 4:3 cameras are crowd pleasers as far as travel is concerned! It is SO important to love your camera when you travel.

      Reply
  3. Simon
    May 2, 2015 at 12:05 am (2 years ago)

    Can you just point out which lenses were used for most of the photos you’ve included? Thanks for this great post, I’m looking to also ditch my DSLR so the Olympus is now a contender!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 2, 2015 at 11:08 am (2 years ago)

      Hey Simon! Thanks for your comment. I use the 25mm 80% of the time because the sharpness and brightness are unparalleled. But the wide angle and microzoom can come in handy too!

      Reply
  4. Sue Volek
    May 21, 2015 at 1:50 am (2 years ago)

    Did you compare the Olympus to other mirrorless cameras? If so, which ones? What features of the Olympus did you think were better than the competition?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 28, 2015 at 9:45 am (2 years ago)

      I compared it to plenty of other cameras, including the Sony a6000 and the Samsung NX1. What I liked about the Olympus was the touchscreen, which comes so naturally to me as a smartphone user. Olympus is also a very reputable brand, they have been making some of the best cameras for decades, so I trusted the name.

      Reply
  5. Celeste
    May 23, 2015 at 8:04 pm (2 years ago)

    I have an Olympus dslr already and wondering if the lenses from that would be interchangeable. I have an e420. I’ve been wanting to upgrade but now after reading your blog downsizing sounds even better idea. It would be nice to not have to buy all new lenses too.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 28, 2015 at 9:41 am (2 years ago)

      I do not think lenses are interchangeable with other Olympus cameras unless they also are micro 4:3. The camera sensor is slightly smaller on these new models, and therefore require smaller lenses. Perhaps check on their website?

      Reply
  6. Hailey
    June 15, 2015 at 5:22 pm (2 years ago)

    I bought a mirrorless camera to take my photography and my blogging to the next level. I love traveling with my SONY a-6000! It’s a great investment, and it’s comparable to the Olympus you are using.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm (2 years ago)

      Yes, they are very similar cameras. Mirrorless are amazing little beasts, I’m glad you like yours!

      Reply
      • Chavi
        May 8, 2016 at 1:08 am (8 months ago)

        Is touchscreen on the a6000 and this cameras the only difference?

      • Marie-Eve
        May 9, 2016 at 9:33 am (8 months ago)

        I’m not sure since I do not own an a6000. But I would say that the touchscreen is a huge bonus either way!

  7. Courtney
    July 2, 2015 at 1:33 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for this great review! I am currently debating taking my Canon T3i with me for four months in Budapest this fall. I really don’t want to take the weight of the whole camera as I dislike lugging it around and am worried I won’t use enough to justify taking it. I would either have to pay money for a new all-purpose lens or a new camera (of which I can’t decide to do a point and shoot or a camera like the one you have). Were you able to find a good case for this camera and/or camera strap as well? How is the Wifi upload?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      July 9, 2015 at 5:39 pm (2 years ago)

      I think the money I invested in this camera is 100% worth it. It doesn’t come cheap, but considering how small and light it is compared to a reflex, it’s a no-brainer. I also dislike having to carry bulky photo equipment with me and this camera has made all the difference. I use it all the time!

      I don’t use cases because I’m lazy but I do have protective filters for each lens. The WiFi upload is great, and I use it a lot to share to my Twitter and Facebook accounts when I’m not on my computer.

      Reply
  8. Amy
    August 3, 2015 at 4:39 am (1 year ago)

    Thank you so much for your review. I was going back and forth between this camera and the Canon Gx7 as an everyday camera. I have a baby and I just can’t take my full frame camera around anymore. I’m still keeping it though, so I may have to wait a little longer to get that 25mm lens!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 3, 2015 at 11:40 am (1 year ago)

      You’re welcome, Amy! I genuinely love my camera. I take it everywhere with me and it’s given me so many beautiful travel photos. You won’t regret getting that 25mm lens, I’ll tell you that.

      Reply
  9. Antonio
    August 28, 2015 at 11:45 pm (1 year ago)

    Nice round up. I personally use and recommend the Sony A7. A bit pricey but it performs great. It’s super light, which it’s highly appreciated when traveling. I am also happy I don’t have to carry a heavy DSLR anymore :)

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 2, 2015 at 12:32 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for the suggestion Antonio!

      Reply
  10. Reinardt
    October 24, 2015 at 12:02 pm (1 year ago)

    Great article! I’ve got the Sony a6000, chose it because of the better video quality over the Olympus. I have read many reviews and watched quite a few videos and most is synonymous that the Olympus is the preferred choice over the Sony a6000 for photo quality but as an all rounder the a6000 wins.
    A great lens that works perfectly with the Olympus is the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 if you want some wider angle shots.
    Have fun with your camera, I will certainly never regret buying a mirrorless APS-C camera.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      November 3, 2015 at 2:06 pm (1 year ago)

      The Sony is a good option too! I have to say what really sold me what the retro look of the Olympus, I just love it! Happy travels!

      Reply
  11. Jasmine Teed
    February 19, 2016 at 7:36 am (11 months ago)

    I love your photos! I’m from Quebec too, nice to read about a travel blogger from here. I want to get a mirrorless camera too as I find I just never end up taking my DSLR anywhere because of the bulk. I can’t decide between this camera and the Olympus Pen E-PL7, it’s so hard to decide….

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      February 29, 2016 at 8:41 am (11 months ago)

      I think you’ll get better results with the OMD line, quite frankly. You should go to a store and test them out to see which one you like better!

      Reply
  12. Skeeter
    March 23, 2016 at 11:40 am (10 months ago)

    I just bought this camera (EM 10 Mark ii) and have been busily learning all the functions and features. I already love it and I’m glad to hear you do too. I can’t wait to take it on my next trip!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 10, 2016 at 5:27 pm (9 months ago)

      It’s an excellent camera for travel photography!

      Reply
  13. The Sunday Mode
    March 27, 2016 at 5:12 am (10 months ago)

    I just bought the EM10 and your post helped me to pick this camera. I was tossing up between this one and the Pen EPL7 but preferred the inbuilt viewfinder and the feel of this camera. Thank you, it was very helpful :) I am using it as a blogger for when I travel as I got tired of lugging around my big DSLR too!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 10, 2016 at 5:24 pm (9 months ago)

      Yay! So happy you like it. It’s a wonderful camera!

      Reply
  14. Lola
    April 14, 2016 at 11:18 am (9 months ago)

    I’ve literally come back to this post a million times because I’m trying to decide between this camera and the Fuji x100t. Do you have any suggestions??

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 25, 2016 at 12:59 pm (9 months ago)

      Well, I’m biaised, I love my Olympus ;-)

      Reply
      • Aubby
        June 11, 2016 at 2:57 pm (7 months ago)

        Lola, I was torn between the Fuji x100t and em 10, but the killer advantage is the touch screen, the small size and affordability of prime lenses the convinced me to go with the Olympus. One final thought, the em 10 mark 1 is so much better in so many ways than the mark 2, including the em 5 models, I cannot impress upon enough that Marie-Eve has nailed the virtues of this camera very well. To Marie-Eve, thank you for sharing your insights with us: it was the deal breaker to persuading me to track down the orgional mark one.

      • Marie-Eve
        June 13, 2016 at 9:41 am (7 months ago)

        Glad you agree, Aubby! :-)

  15. J-zel
    June 12, 2016 at 3:45 pm (7 months ago)

    Marie-Eve, tu es mon ange!!
    Je viens de découvrir ton blogue aujourd’hui, via Pinterest, et les informations que j’y trouve sont fantastiques! Québecoise aussi (Magog :D) vivant maintenant au Manitoba. Nous avions auparavant, avec nos enfants, voyagé à travers tout le Canada et presque tous les États-Unis en voiture. Maintenant, mon mari et moi avont récemment commencé à voyager outre-mer. Portugal en 2014, et cette année la Nouvelle-Zélande. OUI, ton mari et toi devez y aller absolument, c’est magnifique!! Si nous étions allés à ton âge, on y serait sûrement déménagés.
    Comme toi, j’adore la photographie. Après la NZ, j’ai aussi pensé voyager avec une caméra plus légère et moins encombrante que ma Rebel. Tes recommandations m’arrivent juste au bon moment.
    Je suis aussi intéressée de savoir combien et quelles langues tu parles. Je suis contente pour toi que tu ais trouvé ta passion pour le voyage, le savoir, et le Monde!
    Merci! Et je continuerai à suivre tes exploits (ce que je n’ai jamais fait à date, avec d’autres blogues).

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 13, 2016 at 9:46 am (7 months ago)

      Génial, ravie de pouvoir t’être utile! Et merci pour tes bons commentaires. Ça fait toujours du bien!
      (Je ne parle que français et anglais, malheureusement, mon espagnol et mon allemand sont honteux et très rudimentaires!)

      Reply
  16. Maree Soumilas
    June 21, 2016 at 9:04 am (7 months ago)

    Hi Marie, great post!! Is there much of a difference between the wide angle lense and the wide angle converter apart from the cheaper price?
    I already have the 14-42mm lense, do you suggest getting the other 2 lenses for photos in Europe?
    Thanks! :-)

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 25, 2016 at 1:19 pm (7 months ago)

      Well, you will get better quality with a proper wide angle lens, that’s for sure. I would recommend getting the prime 25mm lens (great for portraits, food shots, amazing depth of field) and the 9-18mm or the 12-40mm lens (great wide angle zooms). Have a great trip!

      Reply
  17. Apurva
    June 23, 2016 at 6:44 am (7 months ago)

    Cheers for a very nice blog first of all!
    That was an interesting camera suggestion, and beautiful pictures taken are evident of the right choice you have made. I am currently testing myself with my Canon70D 18-55 and 50mm1.8. I didn’t get it because I could, I got it because I wanted and had waited for the right occasion which was the arrival of a baby in our family. Until then, I was practicing manual mode on an advanced compact.

    Good blog, once again and best wishes for future journeys.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 25, 2016 at 1:16 pm (7 months ago)

      Thanks Apurva! The 70D is an excellent camera, I wish I was wealthy enough to get one for myself. Good luck practicing and congrats on the new member in your family!

      Reply
  18. Scott
    June 27, 2016 at 6:54 pm (7 months ago)

    Great article. I have a Fuji X-E2 which I love. Your images speak volumes for what the Olympus is capable of. Of course your great eye is what really makes the images what they are. It’ so nice to see there is plenty of room for brands other than Nikon and Canon. Don’t get me wrong, N & C are fabulous cameras in their own right (I have a Canon 5D that I still use quite often).

    Olympus, Fuji, Sony etc have opened doors that no one thought possible years ago. For most amateur photographers and quite a few pros the mirrorless are a perfect fit. Where they don’t excel at this point is fast action sports.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 28, 2016 at 11:24 am (7 months ago)

      Thanks Scott! And yes, the Olympus does wonders :-) I love my mirrorless!

      Reply
  19. Cathy Denton
    July 24, 2016 at 10:52 pm (6 months ago)

    Hi Marie,

    Last night I ordered the Olympus OM-D-E-M10 after agonizing for weeks about which would be the best travel camera for our upcoming month long trip to Europe. Seeing your blog today made my heart sing! Yay….can’t wait to get it and become familiar with its functions. My very first camera was an Olympus at my photographer father’s choosing. I am very excited to come back to the retro look and stellar performance of this little camera.

    I am concerned that I chose the wrong lense. I added a 40×150. To the 40×44 that comes with it. I can’t afford to pay for the 25mm lense but will save and it will be my next purchase.

    I will be following you on instagram to be inspired by what our cameras can do

    Happy to have found you!!.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      July 25, 2016 at 11:28 am (6 months ago)

      Hey Cathy, you’ve made the right decision! I love my Olympus. I only shoot with my iPhone for Instagram (I’m a purist!) but everything else is the work of my trusty Olympus. I’m not a fan of the 14-44 lens that comes with the kit but it’s a great starting point. You should definitely save up for the 25mm, it does wonder. I just love it.

      Reply
  20. sam
    August 23, 2016 at 7:53 am (5 months ago)

    are these photo’s made with a extra lens or not? :$

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 29, 2016 at 11:34 am (5 months ago)

      Most of them were made with the 25mm lens listed above.

      Reply
  21. Leena
    September 20, 2016 at 3:14 pm (4 months ago)

    Your review definitely made this camera stand out for me in my research! I’m planning on moving to Prague to teach English and travel as much as possible, and I was wondering if you still recommend this version of the camera or would recommend an upgrade to the newest Mark II version (which would hurt my wallet a bit more)?

    I’m very much a beginner/novice and plan to take this camera with me everywhere and use it to shoot travel videos and just learn more about photography overall. Eventually, I would also like to invest in more lenses as my skills improve. Do you also have any recommendation for a must-have lens even as a beginner? Or is the Amazon included 14-42mm enough at first?

    Reply
  22. Aina
    November 5, 2016 at 2:26 am (2 months ago)

    How big of a difference do the pictures turn out with and without lens?

    Reply
    • Aina
      November 5, 2016 at 2:44 am (2 months ago)

      What I mean in terms of buying 25mm vs the 14-42mm that’s already included when buying the camera. Is the 14-42mm good enough for daily use?

      Reply
      • Marie-Eve
        November 13, 2016 at 1:53 pm (2 months ago)

        It is, but it’s not my favourite as I am very demanding when it comes to photography. But it would be fine if just you want to take pictures.

  23. Kimberley
    November 13, 2016 at 4:57 am (2 months ago)

    Hi, is this Olympus model good for taking photos at night/low light? Thanks :)

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      November 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm (2 months ago)

      Yes! Especially with the 25mm lens, which does wonderfully well in low light conditions. As long as you have a tripod, of course!

      Reply
  24. Lara
    November 29, 2016 at 1:13 pm (2 months ago)

    Hi there! I have the OMD EM-10 MKII and I’m super happy with it. As many others I got it as a kit with the 14-42 mm (pancake size) and the 40-150 mm zoom. I’m now looking (and have been researching for weeks) for a great prime lens for travel photography. I do a lot of landscape and street/snap shots on my travels so I’m leaning towards the Oly 17 mm 1.8, and I was wondering what you use for landscapes when you’re traveling? I read you mostly use your 25 mm, does this also works for landscapes? I know I can always do pano’s in post, so maybe the 25mm would be a great choice. Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      December 1, 2016 at 10:45 am (2 months ago)

      I think the 25mm is my favourite for street photography as the images are crisp and bright, but it’s not the best for landscapes as it doesn’t get a whole lot in the shot. A wide angle would be better for landscapes, whereas you don’t really need it for urban photography. I think you’ll find prime lenses are really not the best as far as landscapes are concerned because you can’t zoom in on anything.

      Reply
  25. Trish
    December 11, 2016 at 2:31 pm (1 month ago)

    Hi Marie Eve,

    Thanks for doing this review! It’s been incredibly helpful (not as techie as most) and really geared to travel and the type of photos I am looking to take.

    I’m purchasing my first big girl camera and am leaning toward the more recent version of your Olympus model based on the touch screen and snappiness and well admittedly the look (the Sony a6000 seems like a great choice but just uninspiring aesthetically). The one big plus it has for me is the charging system. Have you found that the Olympus system adds a lot of bulk and/or trouble?

    Also, I’ll be going to Iceland next year, can I ask which lenses you used for your wonderful pictures?

    Lastly, I’m trying to stay under the $1200 (but could be convinced to $1500) mark for a starter kit – the tripod you mention in your other post is on the list…are there any other items that you’d say are a must or would strongly recommend to build around?

    Any help would be appreciated. You pictures are always amazing!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      December 12, 2016 at 11:07 am (1 month ago)

      Thank you for your kind words Trish!

      – The charging system isn’t that cumbersome, just a charging box about the size of my palm and a cord. It’s amazing not to have to carry batteries, they’re just wasteful anyway.
      – I would recommend a wide angle lens for Iceland as well as a prime lens for detailed shots; this duo will work wonderfully well in Icelandic nature.
      – I think you will be able to get the camera body, two lenses and a tripod (doesn’t have to be expensive, but do check them in stores beforehand to test sturdiness, make sure they have spikes at the bottom to withstand Icelandic winds). I think filters are also a must if you want to protect your lenses. A spare battery might be a good investment, too, as well as a large-capacity SD card. Have a look at this: http://toeuropeandbeyond.com/essential-travel-photography-accessories/

      Reply

2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Travel Photography Series: I Found The Best Travel Camera Ever

  1. […] you’re been reading the blog for a while, you know how sold I am to my Olympus camera. I still am! Trust me – I broke it earlier this year while in Austria (I dropped the camera […]

  2. […] barely ever leave home without my beloved camera, the Olympus OM-D-EM10. My back could no longer stand the bulk and weight of carrying my reflex camera and lenses around […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *






1,7K Shares