For many years, I nagged my husband again and again saying I needed what I called a “purse camera.”  I LOVE my Canon 5D-Mark III, but there are times when so much is going on, that I wish that I had a small camera that would just fit into my pocket (or my purse).  That’s how I came up with the name “Purse Camera”!  Enter the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II!

After years of purchasing several different small, compact “purse cameras” and being dissatisfied because of the speed, focusing, print quality, etc… I finally found the perfect camera for me!  I ended up with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II!  I went to talk to my new best friends at Competitive Cameras in Dallas, and once I was able to actually play around with this camera in the store, I was sold.  If you are a camera nerd like me, you MUST visit Competitive Cameras if you get the chance.  It is like a candy store for camera nerds!!

Okay…here are a few wonderful things that I personally love about my Olympus E-M5 II camera:

  • It’s small enough to fit in my purse – no camera bag needed (unless I have my zoom lens on it).
  • It has built in Wi-Fi – – I can quickly transfer pictures from the camera to my phone to send out to family or post on Facebook.
  • It is dust-proof and splash-proof (I shot pictures of my daughter’s soccer game in the rain with it).
  • Very easy to grip and use with one hand.
  • Controls and menus are easy to understand, figure out, and use.
  • The flash is detachable, and it is very tiny and easy to bring with you.  I leave mine off most of the time…
  • It has an excellent “super control panel” which makes changing settings very easy.
  • It has some very fun creative filters you can shoot with – no editing after the shot needed.
  • It has a very cool touch-screen!
  • Takes great indoor and outdoor shots (even in low light).
  • And…last but not least – it looks so cool.  Reminds me of an old Canon AE-1 35mm film camera.  I love that look…
Just look at how tiny my little Olympus is compared to my Canon! Amazing, right? Now you can see why I refer to this as my "purse camera"!

Just look at how tiny my little Olympus is compared to my Canon! Amazing, right? Now you can see why I refer to this as my “purse camera”!  All the same cool features pretty much – just in a very small package with a few differences.

And if you’re interested in some key features that the reviewers talk about, here they are listed below:

  • 16MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • 40 MP multi-exposure mode
  • 1080/60p shooting and 1080/30p at up to 77Mbps (All-I)
  • Improved 5-axis image stabilization in both stills and movie modes
  • 10fps continuous shooting, 5fps with AF
  • 1/8000th sec maximum shutter speed (1/16000th with electronic shutter)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Clip-on rotating, bounceable flash

So, as a die-hard Canon user, I was concerned that a new camera with new menus and settings would be hard to figure out.  Not with this Olympus.  I took it right out of the box and immediately felt comfortable with it.  I felt like there was not going to be much of a learning curve with this camera.  I was able to quickly take some good shots with it, without reading the manual!

I always tell myself that I’m going to read the manual – every photographer says that is very important, but like with most things, I prefer to just “figure it out” as I go along.  Not recommended, and I think I’m going to have to change my non-manual reading ways after reading How to be a Better Photographer: Camera User Manual University.  It’s a great article, and makes me realize what a mistake I am making by not reading my camera manuals!  I’m sure I miss some great shots because of this, but with the Olympus, it was just so easy, that I felt like taking time out to read the manual would take away from my shooting time!

I was very concerned about my trip to San Diego back in April, because this was going to be the first trip where I traveled with only my Olympus “purse camera.”  Normally, I would pack up my Olympus, and bring my Canon along too.  I would use my Olympus for easy inside shots with the flash, or at restaurants to document our activities, and pull out my big gun for family photos (usually on the beach).  For this short trip, I did not want to lug my Canon, plus with a carry-on bag, there was not room for the Canon and all my accessories that I bring with it!  So…it would be me and my Olympus on this trip.

I am happy to announce that after reviewing the pictures I got with my Olympus, I will also be traveling to the beach this summer with only my small “purse-camera”!!  My husband is so happy about this decision, because my giant Canon 70-200 lens always ends up in his backpack when we head out on vacation.  I carry the camera with a small lens, and he lugs the large zoom lens for me.   This year, the entire set up will fit in my carry-on bag!

Here are a few of the pictures from San Diego and the setting used to capture them…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is a picture of the harbor right near my hotel.  Settings were 1/3200 – f/2.8 – 20mm – ISO 200 – no flash.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the view from my hotel room – shot through a window!  Settings were 1/320 – f/3.2 – 36mm – no flash.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My princess in front of the castle.  Settings were 1/1250 – f/2.8 – 12mm ISO 200 – no flash.

Wouldn’t you agree – pretty good shots, right?  I was so pleased.  I’m still nervous about going to the beach with just my Olympus, because almost all of our family photos are taken on the beach with my Canon and my awesome tripod.  Check out my post called Family Pictures at the Beach and Which Tripod Do I Need if you’re planning to take family pictures on your vacation this summer!

The cool thing about this zoom lens is that it has a built in hood! It just slides out when you need it, and slides back into place when you don't. And...the lens is so light that it doesn't cause the camera to be off-balance!

The cool thing about this zoom lens is that it has a built in hood! It just slides out when you need it, and slides back into place when you don’t. And…the lens is so light that it doesn’t cause the camera to be off-balance!

I will definitely have my tripod with me, but only my Olympus camera for this trip.  Something new for me.  Don’t worry – I will post the pictures I’m able to get at some point.  I’ll be curious to compare pictures from last year with my Canon 5D-Mark III to the pictures I will take this year with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II!  And of course, we can compare my weight, my tan, my hair, etc…  That’s always fun…not!

With my two lenses that I have for my Olympus – the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Lens and the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Lens, I should have everything I need to get some good shots at the beach this summer!

Now…my zoom lens is pretty big (as you can see in the pictures below), but it is much lighter than my Canon lens, and because the camera is so small, I can probably fit it in my bag instead of asking my husband to carry it for me!  Wish me luck…

Since I have been using my E-M5 II, Olympus has come out with an even newer model of this camera with some improvements – it is called the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II.  On Digital Photography Review, I read up a little bit on this camera and learned the following:

  • The E-M10 doesn’t have all the enthusiast trimmings of the E-M1, but it is targeted to a slightly more serious or developing photographer, rather than a casual snapshooter. With a built-in viewfinder, dual control wheels and number of customizable controls, it’s aimed for the photographer who wants to take some control over shooting settings, though it does have an Auto mode for shooters not yet ready to take that step. It presents all of the light-and-compact benefits of Micro Four Thirds, with a few more SLR-like touches (viewfinder and direct controls) that an enthusiast will appreciate.
  • The first of Olympus’s OM-D models, the E-M5, impressed us a great deal when it was launched, and struck a chord with our readers – comfortably winning our first annual ‘camera of the year’ poll. And the cause for the excitement? A combination of the best image quality we’d seen from a Four Thirds sized sensor and a well-considered set of controls that offered an enthusiast DSLR-style experience in a much smaller body, which was genuinely unprecedented. Overall it was the most complete and coherent mirrorless camera we’d seen up until that point.
  • The E-M10 offers almost everything the E-M5 did, plus a bit more, at a much lower starting price. Whereas the E-M5 debuted at a cost of around $999 body-only, the E-M10 hit the market at around $699 (or $799 with the collapsible 14-42mm II R lens).

You can read a full, in-depth review of the OM-D E-M10 Mark II on their website in the article called Olympus OM-D E-M10 Review.  It goes in to all the technical details you might want to know about.  You can also compare it to the OM-D E-M5 II camera if you want to know the difference between the two cameras.  And if the article Six Ways the OM-D E-M10 Mark II doesn’t convince you to get one of these cameras, then I don’t know what will…

So…get your Olympus camera and pack your small carry on bag and head off on your family trips this summer!  With your small “purse camera” and your Manfrotto Tripod, you’ll be ready to get some excellent family photos!  I can’t wait to hear how your picture adventures turn out.  Let me know how it goes!  Until next time…