Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.
Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!
The Olympus PEN E-P3 is the latest Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus, we thought it would be interesting to see how the new E-P3 compares to one of the most recent offering from Panasonic, the Lumix G3, and had the chance to shoot side by side.
We've put the main features into the table below so you can compare the features at a glance:
|Olympus PEN E-P3||Panasonic Lumix G3|
|12.1 megapixels (effective)||16.0 megapixels (effective)|
|3inch, Touch screen, 610k, OLED||3inch, Touch screen, 460k|
|Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|3fps||4fps at 16mp, 20fps at 4mp|
|35 point area focus||23-area-focusing|
|Full HD 1920×1080, 1080i||Full HD 1920x1080, 50i, 25fps|
|Stereo microphones||Stereo microphones|
|ISO200 - ISO12800||ISO160 - ISO6400|
|Art Filters: 10+||Creative modes: 5|
|Optional extra||100% view, 1.44m pixels|
|330 (LCD)||270 (LCD)|
|122.0 x 69.1 x 34.3mm||115.2 x 83.6 x 46.7/62.2*mm|
|321g (body only)||336g (body only)|
|£799 with kit lens (14-42)||£549 body, £629 with kit lens (RRP)|
* including viewfinder
The Panasonic Lumix G3 features a swivelling screen on the back for use in strange angles up high, below, or with the camera facing you, and a more traditional SLR styled design, most noticeable with the electronic viewfinder sticking out the back of the camera. It also offers a more SLR styled grip, however this is covered in a smooth plastic with a slightly rubbery feel to it. In contrast the Olympus PEN E-P3 features a changeable grip, with either a leather effect, or a larger rubber grip. Alternatively you can use the PEN with no grip at all for minimum size, I found this very comfortable and the shape of the camera makes it very easy to grip the camera.
Both cameras feature a 3 inch touch screen, the Panasonic featuring a swivel screen, with 460k dots, and the Olympus featuring a fixed OLED screen, with 610k dots. The Olympus screen is very contrasty, a very bright, colourful, display. The Panasonic is less vibrant but is very clear even in bright sunlight.
Battery LifeThe battery life of the Panasonic Lumix G3 is rated at 270 shots, and the camera matched this rating in real life giving around 270 shots before the battery went flat. The Olympus PEN E-P3 battery life is rated at 330 shots, however, we took over 800 photos before the battery went flat, and then 360+ photos with another battery that was still going when we had to hand the camera back.
Focusing speed is excellent for both cameras, however without having both cameras in studio and timing equipment to hand it was very difficult to declare a specific winner. The only thing that needs to be said about both cameras, is that focusing is very fast.
Image quality comparison side by side - click to view full size photos:
Overall the Olympus PEN E-P3 gives warmer results, while the Panasonic Lumix G3 gives cooler, but also more neutral images. The G3 shows less noise, but also seems to show less detail than the E-P3, which is surprising considering the higher resolution 16 megapixel sensor in the Panasonic, you would expect to see more noise, but ideally more detail as well. The Olympus PEN E-P3 shows more detail in highlights and in shadow areas which means you should get better dynamic range in your photos.
Pansonic Lumix GH2, as both are the top of the range micro-four-thirds cameras - and the GH2 feels (in the hand) much more equal with the E-P3 in build quality.
However, the PEN gives more pleasing JPEG images with great colour and possibly better image quality - more detail, less moire, better dynamic range. The screen is excellent although perhaps a little contrasty (it can make you think the dark areas of the image are under-exposed, yet when you look at them on the computer they look great). The PEN gives you more choice as to whether you want to add an electronic viewfinder, or whether you want a small (leather style) grip or large (rubber) grip, or no grip at all. The camera also features a huge array of Art Filters, and on top of this you can apply further effects to each Art Filter.
Both are excellent with excellent focusing speed and performance. Difficult to choose between them, the G3 is slightly smaller but has a viewfinder that sticks out the back, and disappointing battery life. Despite the G3 featuring an aluminium front to its body, it still feels very plasticy and really makes the E-P3's extremely solid metal body stand out. Handling the e-p3 is excellent as a street shooting camera it's just so responsive and easy to hold, it makes shooting spontaneously a real joy, and the abundant creative art filters can be really good fun.
Previously the slower auto-focus on Olympus PEN cameras, made the Panasonic Lumix G series a sensible choice as the faster AF was a definite benefit, however, now that Olympus has responded with faster auto focus it's much more difficult to choose between the two. If you want faster continuous shooting, SLR style, a swivel screen, and a built in electronic viewfinder, the Panasonic Lumix G3 is the obvious choice, however if you want excellent images straight from the camera, creative Art filters, a great screen, built in image stabilisation, and the choice of what grip you use, then the Olympus PEN E-P3 is a great choice.
Come back shortly for our full reviews of both cameras.