Several weeks ago, I made a lazyweb request on Twitter for recommendations on micro 4/3 cameras. (Actually, I think I asked about "small high end" cameras, but micro 4/3 is what I had in mind). I got several thoughtful suggestions from folks I'm inclined to trust.
Ordinarily, this would be the beginning of several weeks or months of agonizing indecision as I poured over reviews and specs trying to work out every last detail of each possible option. Except I wanted it for the trip I'm embarking on today, so there just wasn't time. Instead, I compressed all that agony into a few hours over a few days and picked the Olympus E-P5. I also got the Lumix 20mm f1.7 "pancake" lens that seems to be widely regarded as the hotness. It's a fraction faster than the kit lens and considerably shorter, and since size was a driving requirement...
Four word review: I am thoroughly impressed.
This thing takes remarkably good photos. I haven't done any careful comparisons, but it gives me the very distinct impression that it takes better pictures than my now-several-year-old DSLR (a Nikon D7000). It certainly has superior low-light performance and in-camera stabilization no doubt helps.
The physical controls are small and maybe a little fiddly in my large hands, but they're not too small or too fiddly. There are some inevitable consequences to making the body smaller, after all. I've bumped a few dials and wound up in modes I didn't intended, but I think that will happen less with more experience.
I find the on-screen menus well thought out and reasonably intuitive. The wifi connection to a mobile phone turns out to be much nicer and more useful than I imagined. By setting the camera to record both RAW and JPG images, I can grab an image off the camera with my phone and share it. I expect many of my "dailypic" images over the next couple of weeks to be done that way. (The phone app knows from nothing about RAW images but I think that's excusable and the reviews suggest that the E-P5's JPG conversions are particularly good.) You can also take pictures from the camera app and use it to record GPS data for geotagging. I just tested that here in the airport and it seems to work.
(A consequence of not bringing a laptop on this trip is that I have no way to get data off the GPS I usually use for geotagging. Wasn't really any point bringing it as it'd be full within a day or two.)
Lack of a viewfinder is a bit of a drag. The kit I bought included an electronic one that slips into the hot shoe. I haven't actually used it very much; it's a bit clunky and "bolted on". I'll try it when I'm out sight seeing and report back. The fact that the LCD panel tilts ameliorates me somewhat.
It's not really pocket sized, but that also wasn't a real requirement.
Next step: taking several hundred pictures of Tuscany and seeing what I get!