Olympus Pen E-PL3 (Lite) review

September 10, 2011

Overall Rating:


Olympus Pen E-PL3 (Lite)

  • LCD viewfinder:
  • Dynamic Range:
  • Build/Handling:
  • Autofocus:
  • Metering:
  • AWB Colour:



Price as Reviewed:


It is smaller, lighter and has undergone a dramatic makeover since its predecessor. We get to grips with the new-look Olympus Pen E-PL3 (Lite)

Olympus Pen E-PL3 (Lite) at a glance:

  • 12.3-million-pixel Live MOS sensor
  • Wireless flash control
  • 3in, 460,000-dot, tiltable LCD screen
  • Available in black, white, silver and red
  • Street price around £550 with 14-42mm lens

The micro four thirds market is hotly contested between Olympus and Panasonic. In just over two years we have seen three generations of cameras from both manufacturers.

The digital Olympus Pen range currently includes three cameras, with the E-PL series a continuation of the company’s thrust towards ever-more compact models. The E-PL3 is smaller, lighter and virtually unrecognisable from the classic look of its predecessors, the E-PL1 and E-PL2.

Due to its small size, the E-PL3 is also known as the Pen Lite. The camera loses the built-in flash present on its predecessors, which instead finds its way onto the larger E-P series, specifically the E-P3.

The divide between the two Pen series is growing, it seems. At the same time, Olympus has announced the Pen E-PM1, otherwise known as the Pen Mini.

This model has a much simpler button layout – the absence of a shooting mode dial, for instance – and is therefore designed for those new to photography. It doesn’t feature a tiltable screen, either. Consequently, the E-PL3 offers a good trade-off between the functionality of the E-P3 and the compact size of the E-PM1.

  • 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)
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion (330 shots)
  • Weight: 321g (without battery)
  • Exposure Modes: PASM, iAuto, 23 scene modes, 10 art filters
  • File Format: JPEG, ORF (raw), AVCHD/motion JPEG
  • Drive Mode: 3fps
  • Shutter Speeds: 60-1/4000sec + bulb
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Compression: 2-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV
  • RRP: £549.99 (body only)
  • Lens Mount: Micro four thirds
  • ISO: 200-12,800
  • 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
  • Video: 1080 HD 60i, AVCHD, 720p Motion JPEG

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