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Olympus E-P3 Ken McMahon, September 2011
 
   
 
Olympus E-P3 verdict

You get a different view of a camera having spent ten days with it in the absence of any other distractions, so this isn't the usual Cameralabs verdict assessing features and specifications and including comparisons with competing products.

The most flattering thing I can say about the Olympus Pen E-P3 is that I would definitely take it on holiday again. In terms of portability and general handling there's very little to find fault with. As I was travelling, I decided against taking additional lenses and found the M Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R kit lens proved to be really versatile and produced excellent results. I'll admit I favour the wide angle end of the focal length range, but I rarely, if ever, found myself wishing for a lens with a wider or longer field of view.

The E-P3's AF is fast and, most of the time, very accurate; there were some situations where the subject wasn't sharp, but in the vast majority of situations it got it right. It's only fair to say, though, that the faster the action, the harder it is to get good results with the E-P3. When I returned from my trip I went along to the World Belly Boarding Championships at home in Cornwall. The E-P3 has quickish continuous shooting at 3fps but the combination of fast action and bright sunshine made it almost impossible to get good shots (and this was the one occassion when I wished I had a longer lens). So if you do a lot of sports or wildlife photography you might want to think about the optical or electronic viewfinder accessories, expensive though they are.

   
 


There are two things about the E-P3 that I particularly liked and which I think will appeal to anyone used to using a DSLR but looking for a more compact alternative with interchangeable lenses. The first is the ease with which exposure can be managed regardless of which of the PASM modes you happen to be in. This is made possible by the thumb-positioned sub-dial, but also the excellent screen information layout and menu structure.

The second is the degree to which it's possible to customise the functions of the physical controls as well as the options that are available in individual exposure modes. I can't think of any other camera I've used that provides such a useful range of customisation options. These factors, along with the Pen E-P3's iAuto mode wil also endear it to those looking to move up a notch from a high end compact.

 



Good points
Stylish retro pedigree
1080i60 HD video
Hugely customisable
PASM modes for video

Bad points
Screen hard to see in bright light
Touch screen can freeze conrols
Art filters slow video frame rate





Scores

(relative to 2011 ILCs)

Build quality:
Image quality:
Handling:
Specification:
Value:

Overall:

17 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20
16 / 20

83%


   

 


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