Olympus PEN E-PL3


A new hybrid digital camera

At first sight the new hybrid camera launched by Olympus and called PEN E-PL3 has a good price. The only weak thing seems to be the missing of an external flash. We’ve just received this new digital camera and we’ve tested it for this review.

Compact design

At the first view the new Olympus PEN E-PL3 offers a pleasant feel with its metallic look and design. The camera left us a pleasant feeling of strength, even this is not similar with the look of its brother, the E-P3. Of course, this difference is visible in the price of these cameras, too. Even so, the difference between this model and the competitors, the Panasonic DMC-GF3 and the Sony NEX-C3 is not visible. The new Olympus camera seems to be a good competitor for these models. The appearance of its design is of a compact model one. Other differences, comparing with the E-P3 in the Pen E-PL3 are the rotating screen, against the touch screen and the external flash which is not present in the E-PL3Olympus-PEN-E-PL3

A weak point: the external flash

If you will buy an E-PL3 you will see that you will receive with the camera an external flash, ready to be connected at the camera. We didn’t understand why was used this technical solution. We suspected the possible price difference or the technical problems but in the end, the user is affected by the problems generated by external flash. However, maybe the general public will be attracted by the semiprofessional look of a camera with external flash, who knows.

Good image quality

If you loot at the image quality provided by the new Olympus E-PL3, you will see that the image is similar with the quality provided by the E-P3 brother. The colors are pleasant and beautiful but we’ve seen some color problems in low light conditions. The differences between this camera and the Panasonic model, recently reviewed are obvious. The colors of Olympus are better managed and the skin ones looks better in the tests performed with this new model. However, is better to not increase the ISO value up to ISO 1600 of 3200 because the quality of the image will decrease.

Very fast autofocus

Another advantage of this model that we’ve seen in this review is the speed of the autofocus. We are very surprised to see in our test that the speed of this one is very good, with values comparable almost with the DSLR models. It was a pleasure to see that the responsiveness of this camera is so pleasant. Compared with the old models of Olympus, this one looks very advanced at this chapter.

Some cons

The video quality for the Pen E-PL3 films in full HD 1080i is not impressive, comparing with the features offered by the competitors, Panasonic and Sony. For example, if you decide to compare this model with Sony NEX-5, you will see that the Olympus doesn’t have the panorama mode included and that the resolution of the display is lower that the competitor one. Anyway, even the display quality is not comparable, the resulted video files are good and the movies captured are pleasant to see on computer on your LCD TV. The battery life was good.

Review conclusion

Even that the new model is cheaper like the Pen E-P3, the new Olympus PEN E-PL3 is able to offer the same image quality and performance. The review conclusion is that it has a good autofocus speed and good overall performance. The only cons are the provided external flash and the missing of panorama mode in video.

Technical specifications

Camera Format:Compact System Camera
Retail Price:$699.99
Weight:9.3 oz (265 g)
Size:4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in.
110 x 64 x 37 mm
Tripod Mount:Yes
Effective Megapixels:12.3
Sensor Format:Micro Four Thirds
Sensor Type:Live MOS
Total Megapixels:13.1
Sensor Manufacturer:Panasonic
Image Resolution:4032 x 3024 (12.2 MP, 4:3),
1024 x 768 (0.8 MP, 4:3),
1280 x 960 (1.2 MP, 4:3),
1600 x 1200 (1.9 MP, 4:3),
1920 x 1440 (2.8 MP, 4:3),
2560 x 1920 (4.9 MP, 4:3),
3200 x 2400 (7.7 MP, 4:3),
640 x 480 (0.3 MP, 4:3)
Sensor Size (dia.):0.85″
Color Filter Type:RGBG
Movie Mode:Yes
Movie Resolution:1920×1080, 1280×720, 1280×720, 640×480
Movie Frame Rate:60i (20Mbps/17Mbps), 60p (17Mbps/13Mbps), 30p, 30p
Image File Format:JPEG (EXIF 2.2), MPO (3D), 12-bit RAW (.ORF)
Lens Mount:Micro Four Thirds mount
Kit Lens:Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R MSC M.Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens
Optical Image Stablization:No
Digital Zoom:Yes
Filter Thread:37mm
Digital Zoom Values:2x
Movie Audio:Yes
Movie File Format:AVCHD, Motion JPEG
Zoom Ratio:3.00x
Aperture Range:f/3.5 (wide) / f/5.6 (tele) – f/22
LCD Viewfinder:Yes
LCD Resolution (pixels):460,000
LCD Size (inches):3
Battery Form Factor:Proprietary BLS-1 or BLS-5
Batteries Included:Proprietary BLS-1 Lithium-ion rechargeable
Usable Battery Types:Lithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Charger Included:Yes