Adventure Photographer: Olympus OM-D EM-1

Many of our travel adventures are one-offs; trips we’ll only do once. As such, recording those experiences for posterity requires more than just a dedication to the effort, but the right equipment. Which camera is best suited for travel photography is a hotly contested question with no definitive answer, but there are some systems that just make good sense for travel. Olympus may not have designed their latest OM camera specifically as a travel platform, but it just might be ideally suited for that purpose.

A good travel photographer must constantly live in the moment; camera at the ready at all times. For those with full sized DSLRs, lugging around a heavy camera is sometimes less than ideal. Point and shoot cameras can serve as a more portable alternative, but usually fall short with lesser image quality. The solution is a bridge camera, something in between a point-and-shoot and a full blown DSLR. Enter the Micro Four Thirds camera, and the newly released Olympus OM-D E-M1. In a nutshell, and knowing this abbreviated description will drive avid photographers nuts, a Micro Four Thirds camera is simply a more compact system due the the removal of complicated mirrors, prisms, and other bulky components from within the camera body. The sensor is smaller, but the overall package can be made quite compact, and without as much sacrifice to image quality as many early nay-sayers would have suggested.

The compact size of the E-M1 is not its best trait. Fitted with a full compliment of durable seals within the body and lenses, the E-M1 is also borderline waterproof. This is not to say it can be submerged like Nikon’s newest offering, the AW-1, but it is highly “splash-proof” and that’s more than enough for most travel shooters.

Central to ensuring a shot is never missed is a series of technological features that make the E-M1 appealing. OM-D systems have always been extolled for the speed of the autofocus system, and early reviews from a multitude of sources all agree, the E-M1’s autofocusing speed and accuracy is impressive. The Five-axis in body image stabilization can even detect panning shots and compensate accordingly. For a travel photographer, all of these elements create a camera that can be carried easily and deployed quickly even in foul weather to grab the most fleeting and hard to capture opportunities.

Much of the early press surrounding the E-M1 has been dedicated to vetting the Micro Four Thirds platform as a professional grade option and how many lens configurations are available in the weather resistant category. For the travel photographer, the OM-D EM-1 is more than capable of producing images worthy of the journey. It even has the classic look and feel befitting a travel camera.

– 16.3MP Live MOS Sensor

-TruePic VII Image Processor

– Micro Four Thirds System

– FAST Dual Phase- & Contrast-Detection AF

– Interactive 2,360k-Dot EVF

– 3.0″ 1,037k-Dot Tilting LCD Touchscreen

– 5-Axis Image Stabilization with IS Auto Built-In

– Wireless Connectivity

– 10 fps and 1/8000 sec. Top Shutter Speed

– Dust/Splash/Freezeproof Mag. Alloy Body

Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.