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Olympus E-PL3
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Average review score based on 40 user reviews

94%

of customers recommend this product

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Created: 11/14/09

The camera I've been waiting for

The image quality from the E-P1 is very, very good, comparing favorably with cameras many times its price. Although I found its menus baffling at first, they quickly become second nature and make changes on the fly very easy and quick. The lack of an optical viewfinder (except the one made for the 17mm lens) and built-in flash will bother many. Having composed images on ground glass with the focused image upside down and reversed and used twin lens reflex cameras, the TTL eye-level optical finder is not, for me, the holy grail it is for so many others. With the exception of some problems in strong light, where the image can be hard to see, the LCD works well. I bought the camera with both the 17mm and the 14-42 zoom, expecting to use the prime lens most of the time. While the 17mm is very sharp, it has a field of view that seems a bit too wide to this eyeglasses wearer for a "normal" lens. In fact I frequently keep my 35mm macro (70mm equivalent focal length) on as a prime. But the 14-42 kit lens is very useful, very sharp, focuses quite quickly with the firmware 1.1, and is not really "slow" at f3.5-5.6 on this camera with exceptional high iso capabilities -- and not just for a 4/3 sensor -- and very good in-camera image stabilization. With noise reduction off and the noise filter set to low, one can get quite good jpegs at 3200-- certainly better than film images at that setting. Others will prefer more noise reduction at the expense of detail, and that is easily accomplished in the menus. Or one can always return to the raw file on the rare occasions that stronger noise reduction is required.
Those who shoot raw and use a program other than Olympus Studio should be aware that lens distortion is not corrected in those other programs. With the 14-42 that shouldn't be a problem, but the 17mm lens has significant barrel distortion that frequently need correction. The good news is that the corrections are made in the jpeg files, which, at the large super fine quality rival the results obtained from raw development -- though for printing I always develop the raw file. An 8 gig SDHC card will hold over 300 images shots at the highest jpeg + raw.
I got the camera to keep with me at all times, and while not really pocketable, it is not a problem, even with the zoom lens, to keep in a moderate sized digital single camera case, either on a strap or attached to one's belt. If I occasionally miss the Leica d-lux 4 that this camera replaced, I have no regrets about the choice I made.
My one criticism is that the tonal range in the higher zones is too short, resulting in clipped highlights. Careful metering helps, so I use the spot meter frequently, and lowering the contrast setting to minus 2 is useful in this respect, as is under exposing slightly, but Olympus should address the issue in the next generation of this camera. Capture One 4 raw developing software does a good job of saving blow-out highlights (or lost shadow detail) from the orf information; I use it frequently. Once saved contrast can be increased after burning down highlight areas apt to be lost. But it's a cumbersome process that a longer tonal range would make unnecessary.
All in all, an exceptional camera, especially for the price. It's not an SLR, so don't look for SLR features and you will be happier with it. The build quality is excellent and the stainless steel body is beautiful as well as solid. As for flash: it has a hot shoe. A basic auto flash is cheap.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 12/25/10

Olympus Pen EP-1

This is the digital SLR Olympus secretly wanted to deliver. Yamaichi Maitani designed the original Pen-F system, a 35mm SLR in half-frame format,which inspired the Pen FT w/TTL metering as well as the OM-1 many moons later. Among the essential camera and lens firms, Oly was the first to make the transition from film to digital by taking three of its most-iconic models, the Stylus Epic,Stylus Zoom, and the iS, and coming up with the D-340,the D-390, and the D-600. I expected Olympus to make a digital OM-1, much as Canon, Nikon and Pentax did their popular and professional SLRs. But Oly's designers balked due to dust and dirt considerations,and so the E-10/20,with nonremoveable optics appeared.The Four-Thirds program began with the Evolt line(E-300/330)and the E-1, both bulky designs, followed by the E500.These had the ultrasonic sensor cleaner, as did the E-400, which was much smaller,close in size and looks to the OM-10/20/30,consumer-oriented cameras designed for the OM lens system. Then it hit me: Since the 4/3 sensor was similar in size and shape to half-frame 35mm, the format Olympus championed with the Pen series, why not a digital makeover of the Pen FT, with features like built-in art filters and full HD video that the Pen-F designers thought was science-fiction back then?Team Olympus must've thought the same.
A few complained that the live-view LCD is the only viewfinder, but that seems no big deal to me. The EP-1, for me, replaced another Olympus digital, the C-3040, one of the first of the serious consumer digitals, with an F 1.8 "super bright" lens and a shape like that of the 35-SP, an Olympus rangefidner of the 1970's.The 3040,like the D-340/390/600, was based around a format called SmartMedia, which, like the xD Picture Card, got locked out of a market that decided on Compact Flash and SD-MMC-HC as the memory format standards, and to use the camera's full manual options, it was necessary to use the LCD, not the eyepiece viewfinder. I find the live-view LCD an elegantly simple solution to the need for a bulky prism finder and mirror box to gain SLR lens flexibility.On the Pen-FT,Olympus used a porroprism and a pellicle mirror, same as on the Canon Pellix. And, as with the Pellix, the payback was a dimmer VF image and a loss of 1/3 F-stop,which Canon compensated for by an add-on Booster meter, the vestiges of which remain on the EOS 5D Mark II, the 7D,and the 60D with their 12800 EI settings.
I am anxious putting the camera through its pace as soon as the snows subside. The response is quick and the LCD is bright enough,and while the 14-42(equal to a 28-84)isn't a 1.8, has a more useful range than the 3040's 35-105 and the higher max iso and bigger sensor more than compensate.The half-frame sensor's megapixel count is a little more than half the EOS 5D's, hitting the serious amateur/prosumer sweet spot,with most of the 5D's capabilities. Snapshooters may bemoan the lack of a built-in strobe(presumably, Olympus made the EPL-1 for them), but the EP-1 is otherwise lacking in nothing that it needs.It's nice that Oly is broadening the Micro Four-Thirds lens array, and Olympus and aftermarketers offer a range of adapters allowing Pen-F,OM,and regular 4/3rds, along with Pentax-K,Nikkor-F, EOS and Leica lenses, thus affording new Pen users a wide range of possible body-lens matchups. It's safe to say that Oly has got its camera mojo working again.

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Created: 07/06/10

Olympus E-P1

The Olympus E-P1 or "pen" camera represents a new concept in interchangeable lens cameras, combining serious optics, portability and a sleek and durable design. I was attracted to its all metal frame. It feels solid to handle and takes up a fraction of the space required to transport a DSLR-type camera while offering similar optical capabilities to the introductory level DSLRs offered by Nikon or Canon. The E-P1 a serious camera. I've been shooting with mine for three weeks now and I love it! Excellent photographs and wonderful portability . . . . it's a great combination, making the camera a joy to use.

The E-P1 has been out for a little over a year now and has already been followed by the EP-2 and EPL-1 cameras. Technically they are all classified as "micro Four Thirds" (or mFT) cameras and all share similar internal works. Do an internet search and compare features. The E-PL1, Olympus's newest mFT, is recommended for newcomers to photography looking to move up from the typical "point and shoot" camera, but be warned: it lacks the metal frame and great styling of the E-P1. The E-P1 camera that I purchased is a beautiful work of industrial art which might well end up as a modern "classic." The model is being closed out now and is available at great prices. If you are interested act soon.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 11/14/10

A great entry into the micro-four thirds digital system

I bought the Olympus E-P1 not so much to get into the micro four-thirds digital standard per se, but because the micro 4/3 cameras, with a variety of low-cost lens adapters, allow the use of legacy/vintage manual focus lenses like those made for Leica rangefinders or the old film 35mm SLRs. Like many other photographers I've accumulated a few of these lenses over the years , but they have not gotten much use since I switched to a digital SLR a few years back. It was a toss-up between the Olympus E-P1 and the Panasonic Lumix G-1, both first-generation m 4/3s cameras (and as such available at good value now that a slew of new models have come out).

The reasons I went with the E-P1 instead of the G-1: (a) I have been a big Olympus user for almost 30 years, and I trust their cameras and optics; (b) the styling of the Olympus is great and based on the classic Olympus Pen-F 35mm half-frame SLR camera from the '60s; (c) it is more unobtrusive to use than the G-1, which looks more like a small DSLR. I like the feel of the E-P1, it's very solid but very compact, the controls are easy to use, and it comes with a lot of great features, including in-camera image stabilzation, which I have never used before but find to be extremely useful for low-light/slow-shutter speed shooting.

I know that other reviewers consider the lack of an electronic viewfinder, slow auto-focusing, and lack of a built-in flash downsides of the E-P1. Since I use the camera predominantly for daylight/available light photography using vintage manual focus lenses, I find that having no flash or a slow AF to be no problem (though note that the AF issue has been improved with the latest v1.4 firmware update). I do find that the lack of an electronic viewfinder can be a problem when shooting in strong sunlight----users of point-and-shoots will be familiar with this problem when they frame their photos with the external LCD. However, I consider it more of an annoyance than anything else, and I've ordered an LCD screen hood to cut back on the glare----I'll update this post once I get it to let others know how it goes. This is the sole reason I have rated the product "Good"---in reality if there was a score between Good and Excellent, that's where I would put it.

Overall, am very pleased with the camera-it's as good as the reviews have made it out to be and has got me shooting a lot more since it is much smaller and lighter to carry around than my DSLR (an Olympus E-500). It's great to be able to put the camera in one coat pocket (with a small vintage normal lens mounted), with another small vintage telephoto in another pocket and be able to capture a lot of great photos without a lot of crazy gear. After two weeks I only just used the kit zoom (which is amazingly small and appears to be very sharp and good), but I can't really say much about it since I don't really have much experience with it yet. Hope this helps.

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Created: 06/23/10

Fantastically capable small camera

This camera is already a joy to use. I am really enjoying shooting HD video, and I love the older manual focus prime lenses I can use on it. It has a metal body construction, so along with it's retro-looking design it also becomes an object that just feels great in your hands and great to own.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Feature ratings

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  • Features
  • Size / weight
  • Value for money
Created: 12/12/11

It is a Miracle to have such a Small Machine that takes Big Boy Pictures!

Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

I bought this camera with the Kit Lens. I did not expect that the lens would be a great performer. But 2 weeks with this combo, has changed my opinion. It seems sharp at all focal length and apertures. Even the backgrounds blur out nicely with the longer focal lengths settings. The camera is a little tank. I have used the regular four thirds systems and lens, and this one is faster and more colorful than the older bigger system. Battery Life is much better than advertised. I have never run out of juice even when shooting over 600 images at a time. I enjoy the 10 Art Filters for some images and the different format ratios are very useful. Even the RAW conversion software from Olympus is robust and very useful. This is a good sized machine for my needs and the images are equivalent to the APS sized DSLRs that I have owned. I will sell my little Olympus X-Z1 because this E-P3 is not much bigger to give me a much larger sensor. I have used ISO as high as 1600 indoors and have had good results, with very little noise in the files. All around a fun little camera to always have close at hand. I will look for a good deal on the Panasonic 20mm Fast Lens and maybe the Olympus 45mm fast portrait lens. Plenty of room in my smallest camera bag for these little jewels.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

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Created: 06/02/12

My First Choice for Candids

Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Similar products used:
Canon Canonet QL17 G-III fixed lens 35mm rangefinder
Canon G5 fixed lens digital compact
Canon G11 fixed lens digital compact
Olympus E-p1 interchangeable lens digital compact
Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens
Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lens
Panasonic 45-200mm f/4 - f/5.6 lens
Olympus 14-24mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 lens


Background:
When I purchased my Olympus E-p1, I did so intending to use it for available light candids. However, the auto focus was too slow and too inaccurate. I purchased the Olympus E-p3 because the reviews and specifications indicated that the slow auto focus problem of the E-p1 had been corrected by the E-p3.


Pros:
1. Auto focus is fast and accurate.
2. Has excellent image quality.
3. Uses the same batteries as the E-p1.
4. Has the same classic appearance as the E-p1.
5. Three programmable buttons and two programmable dial positions are great for allowing me to configure the camera to my shooting style.
6. Handles well.
7. Has a well-built feeling.
8. Interchangeable grip is a great feature. I replace the small grip with a thick grip that feels better in my hands.
9. The interchangeable lens feature is very useful. I am able to mount (with adapters) all my Nikon, Pentax, and Fuji lenses.
10. Love the fast Panasonic lenses that are available (14mm f/2.5 and 20mm f/1.7).
11. Love the fast Olympus lenses that are available (45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8).


Cons:
1. Different menu and buttons make it handle differently than E-p1. This poses a problem when I am shooting with the E-p1 and the E-p3.
2. Body is not sold separately.
3. Forced to buy 17mm with my E-p3. Nice lens but f/2.8 is too slow for my shooting style.
4. Forced to buy 14-24mm zoom with my E-p1. Nice lens but f/3.5 – f/5.6 is too slow for my shooting style at that focal length range.
5. I wish the camera had a swing/tilt LCD like my Canon G11 instead of a touch screen.
6. I wish the camera had a built-in viewfinder like my Canon G11 instead of the built-in flash. Thank goodness for the Olympus VF-1 optical viewfinder that I can attach to the hotshoe.
7. Manual focusing is not fast or easy. I wish the camera had rangefinder focusing.
8. The camera is reasonably priced compared to the Fuji X100 or the Canon G1X or Fuji X-Pro1.


Comments:
I gave the E-p3 a 4 out of 5-star rating because I have reserved the perfect score for the camera that has all six of the features I need in a digital compact:
1. excellent image quality
2. interchangeable lenses
3. rangefinder manual focusing
4. swing/tilt LCD
5. fast lenses
6. reasonable price

However, the four features it has are enough to make it my first choice for available light candids.

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Feature ratings

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  • Value for money
Created: 01/10/12

Well suited for me

Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

I purchased this camera because the micro 4/3 system on the olympus allows
you to mount just about any pentax lens ever made to the body of the epl3.
I purchased an adapter that works flawlessly. The metering on the camera
is excellent. Of course these lenses are manual focus but it is not an issue
with me.

I use my pentax 50mm F1.7 lens on this camera for portrait work and its
a great lightweight combination for me.

I also have the kit lens and find it is very good optically. The add-on
Wcon p01 wide angle converter works great with this giving me an
angle of view of equivalent to a 22mm FOV in 35mm photography.

These adapters are cheep and I notice no difference in image quality.

Cheap and inexpensive way to expand the FOV without breaking the bank.

Focus is VERY fast with this camera which is good for shooting your kids
or pets. Much faster than any camera in its class.

I like how you can adjust the flash output from full to 1/64 on olympus cameras.

However this is just my personal preference.

Overall pleased with my purchase.

I got the 14-42m kit lens. I don't think the 17mm lens is that great optically.

ISO performance is not an issue with me and I find ISO up to 800 to be acceptable
for me.

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Created: 12/16/09

Solid Steel work of Art

Likes: Solidity-Great Design-Fits in my Pocket-great second camera-Looks Good-Olympus Colors-super sharp Olympus Lenses-not running with the herd
Dislikes:Lack of a viewfinder-slow focussing-small range of lenses-

Some of the dislikes are answered by the EP-2 and the lens range will grow through time. I only paid $550 because the seller put the finishing time when most people are sleeping. Can't argue with the price and I am learning to compose through the rear screen. My other camera is an Olympus E3 DSLR so am used to a big viewfinder and balancing the camera on my face for stability.

All in all a great first effort for micro four thirds.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 08/14/10

great camera and price!

this camera has the old school look with the latest technology. the stabilizer is a plus and the camera is sleek and easy to carry compared to most. Great picture quality and easy to use. I did not get the view finder but I don't feel like it is necessary for me at least. I have been very pleased with its capabilities and compared to others in it's category I think this camera rates much higher. The reviews on this camera from other places were spot on and for the price it is the best out there. I have used digital and manual 35mm cameras and this one by far is the best quality I have worked with.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

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