Olympus E-P3 Digital Camera Review$899.99
Lens & Sensor
The Olympus E-P3 comes with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R MSC kit lens. The "R" designation simply indicates a cosmetic redesign of the lens, with a slightly more comfortable zoom and focus ring setup, but the same optical design inside. The lens' MSC designation refers to its "Movie Still Compatible" motor, which allows for quiet, quick focus without moving the front lens element or making any noise that will be audible on the internal microphone when recording video.
The E-P3 includes a 12-megapixel Micro Four Thirds CMOS image sensor that has been slightly redesigned by Olympus to speed up certain operations, such as interacting with the live display and autofocus systems in real-time. The sensor has also been designed to allow for better signal amplification with less noise, according to Olympus. The sensor thus has an ISO range of 200-12800 (expandable to 100-25600), but does rely on noise reduction in software in order to keep image grain to a minimum. Even with noise reduction keeping noise down, there is still a severe lack of dynamic range compared to competition like the Sony NEX-5.
The Olympus E-P3 has a 3-inch OLED electrostatic touchscreen display, and the familiar optional EVF accessory port is included below the hot shoe. The EVF is not included with the E-P3, though, as it was with the E-P2. The display duties are handled by the high-resolution OLED touchscreen instead, which offers a wide variety of information to the user. The higher resolution of the display (coupled with the OLED technology) results in a very clear, legible readout of shooting information, as well as a very bright, clear menu.
The E-P3 lost the included EVF, but gains a built-in flash that springs out from the top of the body when the rear flash-up button is pressed. The flash isn't the most powerful we've ever seen, but it's ability to spring forward and above the lens helps greatly reduce red-eye (with red-eye reduction also available in-camera).
The Olympus E-P3 features a mini-HDMI out as well as a proprietary AV/USB output terminal. Both are located behind a plastic port on the right side the camera, just behind the screw-in grip. The grip does not prevent the port terminals from being accessed. The E-P3 also includes a hot shoe for flash and Bluetooth accessories, with an EVF port just below the hot shoe. The camera can also sync up with external flashes wirelessly, along with the rest of the 2011 Olympus PEN lineup.
The PS-BLS1 battery again reprises its role as the main power source for the E-P3, as it has also been used for several other Olympus PEN models. The battery is a standard Lithium-ion battery, with an external AC adapter for charging.
Like most of Olympus' current generation of cameras, the E-P3 is SD/SDHC/SDXC compatible. The memory slot is in the typical spot next to the battery, located behind a plastic door on the bottom of the camera. It is very close to the tripod mount, so the card is not accessible while the E-P3 is mounted on a tripod, unfortunately.