Olympus Pen E-P3 review

August 13, 2011

Overall Rating:


Olympus Pen E-P3

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  • Dynamic Range:
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  • Autofocus:
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  • Metering:
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  • AWB Colour:



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

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Having used the Olympus Pen E-P3 for a few weeks, it is certainly a camera that ticks a lot of boxes for me. It handles well and allows easy creative control.

While the AF system is generally fast if using one of the new MSC lenses, it is not always up to DSLR speed in low light so it’s not time to abandon phase detection just yet. At high ISO it delivers low noise and natural colour, producing rich tones even at ISO 800 and above. The compact-style body is more pocket-friendly than the SLR-styled versions and the accessory port on the E-P3 means you can always add an electronic viewfinder should you want one.

Despite the improvements to this new sensor, it would have been nice to see the E-P3 sporting a 16-million-pixel resolution, although a boost in dynamic range would be more useful from a quality point of view.

The £799 RRP of the E-P3 with 14-42mm lens is on the high side and will need to come down to meet the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 that now has a street price of £525 with lens. But so long as you have deep pockets – both literally and metaphorically – the E-P3 is a great little camera.

Olympus Pen E-P3 – Key features

Accessory port

Positioned underneath the hotshoe, this connection port allows the attachment of an electronic viewfinder and a range of accessories

OLED screen

The 610,000-dot, 3in display is touch-sensitive, allowing for direct control of the autofocus position, among other functions

Image stabilisation

The E-P3 features a sensor-based stabilisation system inside the body, which means that any lens placed on the camera can benefit from the anti-shake technology.

Battery life

The Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery in the E-P3 suggests a life of around 330 shots per charge, using thelive view display for every shot.

Art filters

The latest version of the art filter selection includes ten main modes with additional adjustment for most, and can also be accessed from the colour mode.

Camera Raw support

The included Olympus Master 2 software provides raw support and conversion facilities. Adobe’s next update to Camera Raw is also expected to support the files.

Function button

One of two buttons that can be customised for a range of quick functions from the main menu
This scroll wheel provides quick adjustment of either shutter or aperture control and other functions

  • 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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