Olympus PEN E-P7 is a comeback travel camera with a very familiar face

Olympus PEN E-P7
(Image credit: Olympus)

Olympus cameras have made a Lazarus-like return from obscurity in the form of the Olympus PEN E-P7, a familiar-looking travel camera with upgraded specs.

Almost exactly a year ago, the Olympus Corporation announced it was selling its cameras division to a Japanese investment fund, which led to the creation of a subsidiary called OM Digital Solutions. 

It's this company, which will continue using the Olympus brand name, that has launched the new Olympus PEN E-P7, making it the first camera released under the new owners. But the E-P7 is by no means a break from the past – in fact, its spec sheet suggests it's very much a product of its previous owners, and was probably already in the pipeline prior to the sale.

The PEN E-P7's name suggests that it's the spiritual successor to the Olympus PEN E-P5, which launched back in 2013. But it's perhaps more fitting to call it a compact, viewfinder-less version of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV from last year.

Like the E-M10 Mark IV, the E-P7 combines a 20MP Four Thirds sensor with a Truepic VIII processor, a combination that has historically produced impressive, smartphone-beating snaps with good dynamic range. A Four Thirds sensor might not be as large as an APS-C chip, let alone the sensors inside the best full-frame cameras, but it's large enough to produce superior results to the best camera phones.

This image quality is boosted by the inclusion of a 5-axis in-body image stabilization system (IBIS), which gives you up to 4.5 stops of compensation. This is still relatively unusual in such a small body and is helpful for both shooting in low light (where you need longer shutter speeds to preserve image quality) and handheld video. 

The main differences from the pricier Olympus OM-D E-M10 IV can be found in the E-P7's design. While you miss out on an electronic viewfinder, which can be very helpful when shooting in brighter conditions, you do get a stylish, compact body that weighs only 337g or 430g when combined with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-f/5.6 EZ kit zoom.

And while the E-P7 is very much a photography-centric camera, it does at least shoot 4K/30p video too, albeit without the phase-detection autofocus or microphone inputs of true vlogging cameras like the Sony ZV-1.

Limited edition

Strangely, the Olympus PEN E-P7 will only be going on sale in Asia and Europe, with no US release in the cards right now. This is perhaps because those two markets have proven to be the most popular for classic travel cameras of this kind.

On paper, the E-P7 could certainly repeat the success of some of its PEN forebears, which are all inspired by the design of Olympus' film cameras from the 1960s. It has almost identical specs to the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, which is placed highly in our guide to the best beginner cameras and the best travel cameras, so the omens are promising for the E-P7.

On the other hand, it remains to be seen how many people will be looking to upgrade their travel camera this year given pandemic-related restrictions, and the E-P7 doesn't exactly reinvent the genre. It's effectively some existing tech repackaged in an albeit charming and attractive body.

Another slight downer is the price. You'll be able to buy the Olympus PEN E-P7 from mid-June in either black-and-silver or white-and-silver for £749 (body-only) or £849 with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ kit lens. 

This seems a little pricey considering you can currently buy the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, which has an electronic viewfinder, for less than that. But hopefully the new camera might get an early reduction in the imminent Amazon Prime Day 2021 sales.

Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.