Olympus Pen E-P3 review

August 13, 2011

Overall Rating:


Olympus Pen E-P3

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Price as Reviewed:


The latest Olympus Pen models are claimed to have the fastest AF of any interchangeable-lens camera. We find out how the new E-P3 handles and if it lives up to this bold statement

Olympus Pen E-P3 at a glance:

  • 12.3-million-pixel, Live MOS sensor
  • TruePic VI processor
  • Micro four thirds mount
  • Sensor-shift stabilisation
  • 3in, 610,000-dot, OLED touchscreen
  • 324-zone, multi-pattern, TTL metering
  • 1080i HD video capture
  • Street price around £799 (with 14-42mm lens)

The Olympus Pen series of compact system cameras (CSCs) brought a classic feel to the market and attracted a more fashion-conscious user to this type of camera. The latest incarnation sees the range expanded to three models, headed by the flagship E-P3.

In looks the Olympus Pen E-P3 isn’t a huge departure from the original E-P1, but in terms of features it is a huge step forward, even from the E-P2 model that was launched just over 18 months ago. Although the sensor resolution remains unchanged, the E-P3’s new processor allows for faster operation and focusing. The focusing has been improved to such an extent that Olympus claims it is the fastest of any interchangeable-lens camera. This claim is based on its full-time AF system, which is designed to adjust the focus constantly rather than waiting for you to half-press the shutter – so even if it is as fast as they claim, it is not based on the standing start you might expect.

For the first time in any Pen model the display is a touchscreen, allowing touch focus, touch shutter and some adjustment control directly on the screen. Another first for the E-P3 is a built-in flash. While Olympus E-PL models had this, previous E-P cameras featured a hotshoe addition only. The new range also sees the selection of art filters expanded to include secondary options and the ability to maintain exposure control with some settings.

So the E-P3 certainly looks to be the most complete and most impressive Pen model to date, but with the competition having also progressed rapidly over the past year, expectations are higher than ever.

  • Video: 1080 HD 60i, AVCHD, 720P Motion JPEG
  • External mic: Yes (accessory port only)
  • White Balance: Auto, 6 presets, manual, 2 custom modes
  • Dioptre Adjustment: N/A
  • Built-in Flash: Yes, GN 7m @ ISO 100
  • Shutter Type: Focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Viewfinder Type: N/A
  • Output Size: 4032x3024 pixels
  • LCD: 3in, 610,000-dot touchscreen OLED
  • Field of View: 100% (live view)
  • White Balance Bracket: Yes
  • AF Points: 35-point system, touch focus, face and eye detection
  • Sensor: 12.3-million-effective-pixel Live MOS
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/180sec/1/4000sec (Super FP mode)
  • Exposure Modes: PASM, iAuto, 23 scene modes, 10 art filters
  • Weight: 321g (without battery)
  • File Format: JPEG, ORF (raw), AVCHD/motion JPEG
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion (330 shots)
  • Shutter Speeds: 60-1/4000sec + bulb
  • Drive Mode: 3fps
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Compression: 2-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV
  • RRP: £699 (body only)
  • Lens Mount: Micro four thirds
  • ISO: 200-12800
  • Focusing Modes: Single, continuous, manual, tracking
  • DoF Preview: No (via test picture)
  • Dimensions: 122x69.1x34.3mm
  • Metering System: 324-zone multi-pattern TTL digital ESP, spot, centreweighted, highlight, shadow
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB, HDMI

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