Olympus E-P3 Camera
I decided to create a separate page for each of the really interesting PEN range cameras. I am positive that most Olympus owners that the follow developments on new cameras are as excited as I am with the recently launched PEN 3 range. We have seen great developments over the years and I think the PEN 3 range are showing what can be done in terms of optimizing an existing range.
Olympus talks about the "PEN Concept" when referring to the PEN 3 range. Looking at the 5 main "PEN" categories, ease of use, creativity, SLR Quality, expandability and flexibility, the new PEN 3 basically explains why it's unique new features warranted the continuation of a already great PEN range. I added a brief summary of each of the 5, PEN concepts for your information.
- Ease of Use
Ease of Use
Olympus done a lot to simplify using the PEN series. That includes all three "new" models, the basic E-PM1, the E-PL3 and the E-P3. The one physical experience working with the new PEN 3 series that will best translate the "Ease of Use" concept is the new OLFD AF(Anti Fingerprint) Touch Panel that is found on the E-P3,I believe. With this new touch control panel one will be able to select focus points, do several adjustments on the fly plus have the ability to evaluate images with incredible detail while in the camera.
For more information on the high resolution screen plus the unique live view functions, see the articles I wrote in the OM-D section.
The new more powerful ART Filters adding more creativity to the PEN range already started with the E-PL2. I think very few reviewers noticed this because the improved ART filter functionality was only visible when really using the camera. Exactly what has been added to the PEN 3 ART filters were not clear to me at the time writing this article. I read that the E-P3 has 10 ART Filters and all can be adjusted.
Add to that the more traditional scene modes that also evolved and the new PEN camera is really a powerful creative tool. I was playing with the multi exposure function in edit mode on my E-PL2 and was surprised at the additional adjustments one can make to more accurately control the ART filter effects.
- SLR Quality
I read the new 12MP PEN 3 range uses an all new sensor with several improvements to aspects like image noise, dynamic range, image color, image detail and more. Interesting I thought was the fact that Olympus decided to stay at 12MP and to rather improve the camera and not to increase pixels. Similar to the E5 the new PEN series has set new standards.
The new PEN cameras also use a new Version 6 image processor. In one article I read it could even be a dual core processor that is used in the new PEN cameras starting with the E-PL2. What are the main advantage of adding more powerful processors you could ask? Its mainly processing speed, one of the negatives on the E-P-3 was its processing speed, especially when using the ART filters. The one most significant improvement is the new FAST AF functionality of the new PEN 3 series. Just think what this will do for a range like the PEN camera.
We have already seen the extensive expandability of the MFT camera range over the last three years. It started with the E-P1 and it just kept on growing to where we are today. At one stage I was nearly moved to study the Panasonic lens offer again. Lucky this weakness only stayed a few moments. The deciding factor was the glass used in the Olympus lenses plus the excellent image quality one get from the Olympus lens offer.
Take the 14 - 150mm and have a good look at what has been build into that one small package and you will better appreciate just why its image quality is so outstanding. I cannot wait to see what all these new Olympus lenses will be like, I only hope Olympus stay within reason with the prices.
I saw these examples of the different grips one will have for the PEN 3 cameras in the future. I also saw a set of less radical looking grips, but with various different shapes. This will help a lot to adapt the camera for your individual style and use. One thing I noticed is that the E-PL3 and the E-PM1 has no grip.
That is sad because one of the best things about the E-PL2 is its fantastic grip. In fact I owned the E-PL3 for a short period, mainly to compare it to the older E-PL2. Must say the older E-PL2 was by far the batter package I thought. The E-PL3 was clunky. with a noisy metal feel I thought. The screen ratio on the E-PL3 was also not well designed and I never could find a good ratio to work with.
The E-PL2 was most probably the least PEN like in terms of its looks. In terms of functionality and image quality (IQ) the E-PL2 and the EP3 are equals. Rumor has it that these two cameras use the least aggressive anti-moire filters in the complete PEN range. You will see the E-PL2 in the image are fitted with a 12 - 50mm kit lens typically found on the E-M5.
The E-P1 and 2 had were plagued with slow focussing speed. Personally I linked that to the limited processing power these two models had. The problem manifested itself in the form of a lag from the moment the shutter was pressed to the camera reacting. This the user could control the lag by removing things that could potentially take up processing power. For example canceling the histogram on the E-P2 screen (live view) resulted in better focussing performance. The later E-PL2 were much better and even today amongst cameras like the E-M5 it performs well.
I never owned the E-P3, mainly because of its high purchasing cost plus knowing it will only have a really short life cycle. I do however like to keep the E-P3 in my PEN collection and look forward to getting a good copy at a good price. Comparing the E-P3 based on the E-M5, the latter on which menu structure and CPU configuration, the E-P3 were based on, I can only think how well it should respond compared to the previous two models.
One always read how better quality lenses or glass will result in better IQ. I tried this concept when using the FT range of cameras (E3) and lenses and it was really interesting to see just how much of a difference a top quality lens can make. Olympus offer the user a high grade prime lens option in the PEN and OM-D range and it is true that a lens like the 45mm f1,8 does deliver in terms of IQ. That was all true up to the launch of the E-M5.
Never before have I seen so much improvement that were basically mainly sensor related. One can write a complete article on this alone, aspects like seemingly endless DR, exceptionally low noise levels, color correctness and on and on the list continues….. I am really interested to see how the new E-PL5 and PM-5 will perform taking in account it uses the same Sony sensor found in the E-M5.