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Olympus PEN E-P3 Hands On Preview

We go hands on with the new Olympus PEN E-P3 and new 12mm and 45mm lenses - the E-P3 is the latest micro four thirds camera from Olympus.

|  Olympus PEN E-P3 in Mirrorless Cameras
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The Olympus PEN E-P3 is the newest Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus, we were at the European launch of the camera, and were able to try out it's new features and new high speed focusing.

Olympus PEN E-P3

Olympus PEN E-P3 Features

45mm Olympus 45mm lens
Click to enlarge - 45mm lens Click to enlarge - 45mm lens

  • Improved sensitivity - upto ISO12800
  • TruePix VI Image Processor
  • World's fastest AF, AF illuminator
  • Full HD Video - advanced IS, shutter priority
  • Advanced Shadow Adjustment Technology
  • New graphic user interface (see below)
  • 3inch OLED Touch screen, anti-fingerprint
  • Choice of grip, no grip and large grip
  • New tone control
  • Art bracket

Olympus PEN E-P3 Handling

45mm lens In hand
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

To anyone who's used the E-P1 or E-P2, the general design and feel of the camera will be very familiar, as the body is very solidly made, but with some subtle but useful improvements. The major improvement is the inclusion of a built in flash and the ability to change the grip on the camera - you have the choice of no grip, giving you the slimmest camera, a standard / medium sized grip, or a larger more substantial rubber grip. There are further more stylish grip options available as well.

Olympus PEN E-P3 Olympus PEN E-P3
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

The size of the E-P3, whilst very similar to the E-P2, now feels quite large in comparison to the tiny E-PL3 (Lite), and E-PM1 (Mini).

Olympus PEN E-P3
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Menus - the Pen cameras have a refreshed menu system with easier to navigate controls, and they have a softer edge to some of them. There is built in help and a built in camera manual.

Olympus PEN E-P3 Olympus PEN E-P3
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Speed - this is one area where you can instantly tell that there have indeed been massive improvements in the focusing speed, as focusing was very very quick, as fast as, if not faster than the Panasonic Lumix G3 (the G3 focuses in less than 0.2 seconds), and shutter response is instant. Continuous shooting is around 3 fps, which is a little disappointing considering the mid-range "Lite" model features 5.5fps.

Olympus PEN E-P3 Performance

To be added once we have taken sample photos with the camera, keep checking back.

Value for Money: Flash is included in the top of range model, the E-P3, and this makes it the most appealling to me personally, however the lack of flash in the other models may not be such a huge issue, as they come provided with a "kit flash" as standard, and the expected low noise, high ISO performance of the 12mp sensor (nice to see they are sticking to their philosophy of "12mp is enough" so that image quality remains excellent, compared to others that are still indulging the "megapixel race" / marketing) should be adequate in many situations that a normal compact couldn't cope with. Built in body stabilisation is another bonus of the P system, as it enables you to have image stabilisation with any lens, new or old.

Olympus PEN E-P3 Verdict

The Olympus PEN E-P3 is a welcome upgrade to the E-P2, with extremely fast focusing, which was one of the big problems with the PEN series,especially if you'd used another faster Micro Four Thirds camera, but now it looks as though Olympus are fully back in the game. The addition of a built in flash, and AF illuminator and several new art filters and effects that can be applied to the art filters, is a welcome addition, and the build quality and appearance of the camera is excellent. The new 12mm and 45mm lenses look and feel amazing with an entirely metal construction, and are well worth seeking out.

Read our hands on preview and first impressions of the new Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3!
Read our hands on preview of the new Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1!
View our size comparison: comparing the Olympus PEN E-P3, E-PL3, and Lumix G3
Return to the overview of the Olympus PEN Announcements.

Olympus PEN E-P3 Specification

Price: £TBC
Resolution: 12.3 megapixels
Sensor size: 4/3 inch
Sensor type: Live MOS sensor
Max. Image size: 4032 x 3042
Aspect ratio: 4:3 / 3:2 / 16:9 / 6:6 / 3:4
Focusing system: Contrast detection AF
Focus points: 35 points / Automatic and manual selection
Focus types: Manual focus, Single AF, Continuous AF, Single AF + MF, AF Tracking
Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
File types: JPEG, RAW
ISO sensitivity: ISO200 - 12800
Metering system: TTL open aperture light metering
Metering types: ESP light metering, Spot metering, Centre weighted metering, Highlight, Shadow
Exposure compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3, 1/2 and 1 step increments
Shutter speed range: 60sec - 1/4000sec
Frames-per-second: 3fps
Flash sync speed: 1/160 s / 1/4000 s (Super FP Mode)
Image stabilisation: Sensor shift
Live view: Yes
Monitor: 3in OLED Touch Panel, 610,000 dots
Movie mode: Full HD 1920 x 1080 (16:9) 60i, 20Mbps (AVCHD)
Full HD 1920 x 1080 (16:9) 60i, 17Mbps (AVCHD)
HD 1280 x 720 (16:9) 60p, 17Mbps
HD 1280 x 720 (16:9) 60p, 13Mbps
HD 1280 x 720 (16:9) / 30fps (AVI Motion JPEG)
640 x 480 / 30fps (AVI Motion JPEG) 14min
Media type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
Interface: USB 2.0. HDMI Mini
Power: Li-Ion battery
Size: 122.0 x 69.1 x 34.3mm
Weight: 321g (body only)
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Photographs taken using the Olympus PEN E-P3

Ping Pong BallsWhite on WhiteShellMacaronsShadowsChocolates.....YUMStaying SafeLight componentsOld Photo RevampedBlue UlsterSomething fishy going on...Essential OilMusic or MoviesSuncatcherOn the Farm

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