Having spent the last few months working with and learning the OMD EM1 as an action camera, I was excited to take the new camera on our family vacation to Puerto Rico to test it as a travel camera. 

  • I brought the following kit with me. 
  • Olympus EM1 camera
  • Olympus 12-40 f2.8
  • Olympus 17 f1.8
  • Olympus 45 f1.8
  • Olympus 75 f1.8
  • Panasonic 25 f1.4
  • extra battery and memory cards
  • mini tripod
  • mini rocket blower and cleaning supplies

Looking back at images and what I shot with, I wish I had brought just the 12-40, 17 and the 75.  Why? Well, even though my entire kit was small enough to fit in a reasonable size back pack I just didn't use all of it. By the end of the trip, I did manage to force myself to use everything I brought. The gallery below has at least one image from each lens. That said, I could/should have gotten away with less.

So here are my thoughts on the EM1 as a travel camera. I am writing this on the plane returning home so these thoughts are fresh and in the moment. 

The great

  • Puerto Rico is a beautiful land and wonderful tourist destination. I hope my pictures below reflect this. 
  • The weather sealing on the EM1 and the 12-40 is spectacular. More than once this proved itself. I was knocked down shooting my kids in the waves nearly submerging the camera, splashed with spray while sailing and drenched with water drippings while Kayaking. This feature alone made it worthwhile for me and the right choice. Without the weather sealing I would not have gotten a few of the shots as I would not have brought the camera out. Zero issues related to weather. That is a great comfort to me. 
  • The EM1 has a split personality. For action sports I use the extra battery grip. It is a smallish big camera. For travel I remove the battery and throw the 17mm f1.8 on and a wrist strap and it is a very small set up. Love that versatility. 
  • JPEG quality is fantastic. I didn't shoot RAW on this trip as the images jpegs are so good and will suffice to do quick prints and a family only photo book. I shot in Natural most of the time and Vivid for sunsets and sunrise. 
  • The wifi transfer and remote control is amazing. All of these images in this post were transferred from camera to iPad and processed quickly in Snapspeed for this post.
  • All the lenses I brought are truly incredible. The 75mm just blows me away and having shot with a Nikon DSLR with a huge 24-70 for a long time, I can't believe the stunning images from the comparatively small EM1 and 12-40. 
  • Battery life was fantastic. Turned off image review, shot generously and never once did I have to go to the back up.

The I can live with it

  • While the size of the EM1 is small, it is bigger than many micro 4/3 cameras. I wish it was a tad smaller for travel and didn't have the hump.  I much prefer the rangefinder look of cameras like the Panasonic GX7, Fuji XE or Sony NEX cameras for travel. If the EP5 had a built in EVF without a hump I would buy one immediately. Come on Olympus, don't make me buy a Panasonic GX7 for travel!

The not so great

  • Shooting in the dark with the EVF. You can't see or focus on anything. I switched to manual focus and zone focused and then guessed on exposure. Live time helps with the exposure but not for viewing.  I am sure someone can point me to a menu setting to correct this but in the moment on an evening kayak ride I was not able to find it. 
  • My next trip I will bring my small tripod. My mini one was great but at only 6" off the ground I couldn't get some of the shots I wanted. Also, the EM1 with either the 12-40 or the 75mm were just too heavy for it. I used it, but I will bring a better small tripod next time. 

All in all, this trip really reaffirmed my love and passion for my choice to go m43. I absolutely love my EM1 and the images, quality & performance of the equipment have exceeded my high expectations.My only issue was shooting in complete darkness while sitting in a kayak in the middle of a lagoon and that alone isn't enough to make me want to carry something bigger, bulkier and slower handling than the OMD EM1. The EM1 is a travelers dream camera! 

Old San Juan

Surrounded in a old San Juan

Boogie Boarding - this wave took me out and soaked my camera as I held it above water. 

Posing for dad 

New shades

We need to leave this place?

Nathan and Jen getting every last bit of sun 

El Yunque rainforest

El Yunque rainforest

Bare foot in January - What a treat for his MN boy

A nice spot for lunch 

Bio Bay Kayak Tour

Sailing on the Atlantic 

Sunrise on our final day - the view from our condo

Clouds over San Juan - about a 30 second exposure