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  • Olympus PEN E-P3 Review

    Olympus PEN E-P3

    The PEN E-P3 is Olympus's fifth generation Micro Four Thirds camera. Despite it's classic PEN aesthetic, it packs a revised 12-megapixel sensor, and almost every other aspect of the camera has been tweaked in some way. Olympus's latest PEN flagship features what is touted to be the world's fastest AF-S performance, as well as a 614,000 dot VGA-equivalent OLED touch-sensitive screen and built-in flash. With so many new features, how does the E-P3 stack up against it's predecessor the E-P2? Read on to find out.


    Specifications
    <table width="700" border="1" cellpadding="3"><tr><td width="100">Specification</td><td width="277">PEN E-P3</td><td width="277">PEN E-P2</td></tr><tr><td>Sensor</td><td><ul><li>4/3&quot; Hi-Speed Live MOS Sensor</li><li>12.3 million effective pixels</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>4/3&quot; Hi-Speed Live MOS Sensor</li><li>12.3 million effective pixels</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Image Stabilisation</td><td><ul><li>&quot;Supersonic Wave Drive&quot; in-body sensor shift</li><li>3 modes: horizontal + vertical, horizontal-only, vertical-only</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>&quot;Supersonic Wave Drive&quot; in-body sensor shift</li><li>3 modes: horizontal + vertical, horizontal-only, vertical-only</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Image Processor</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>TruePic VI</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>TruePic V</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Image Sizes (Stills)</td><td><ul><li>4032 x 3024</li><li>3200 x 2400</li><li>2560 x 1920</li><li>1600 x 1200</li><li>1280 x 960</li>
    <li>1024 x 768</li><li>640 x 480</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>4032 x 3024</li><li>3200 x 2400</li><li>2560 x 1920</li><li>1600 x 1200</li><li>1280 x 960</li><li>1024 x 768</li><li>640 x 480</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Image Sizes (Movie)</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><p>AVHCD Format</p><ul><li>Full-HD Fine: 1920x1080, 60i recording, 17Mbps</li><li>Full-HD Normal: 1920x1080, 60i recording, 13Mbps</li><li>HD Fine: 1280x720, 60p recording, 17Mbps</li><li>HD Normal: 1280x720, 60p recording, 13Mbps</li></ul><p>Motion-JPEG Format</p><ul><li>HD: 1280x720, 30fps, Aspect 16:9</li><li>SD: 640x480, 30fps, Aspect 4:3 (VGA)</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>1280x720 (HD)</li><li>640x480 (VGA)</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Aspect Ratio</td><td><ul><li>4:3 (default)</li><li>3:2</li><li>16:9</li><li>6:6</li><li>3:4</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>4:3 (default)</li><li>3:2</li><li>16:9</li><li>6:6</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>File Formats</td><td><ul><li>RAW</li><li>RAW + JPEG</li><li>JPEG</li>
    <li>MPO (3D still)</li><li>AVCHD</li><li>AVI Motion-JPEG</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>RAW</li><li>RAW + JPEG</li><li>JPEG</li><li>AVI Motion-JPEG</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Digital Tele-converter</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>2x digital zoom</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>N/A</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Auto Focus</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>Contrast-Detection AF System</li><li>35-area Multiple AF</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Contrast-Detection AF System</li><li>11-area multiple AF</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Focus Area Selectable</td><td><ul><li>Automatic</li><li>Manual</li><li>Auto from 35-area, single area from 35-area, group (9-area) from 35-area</li><li>Face-detection</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Automatic</li><li>Manual</li><li>Auto from all 11 area, Single area from 11 area</li><li>Face-detection</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Eye-Detect AF</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>OFF</li><li>Near-side eye priority</li><li>Left-eye priority</li>
    <li>Right-eye priority</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>No</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Focus Modes</td><td><ul><li>Single-shot AF</li><li>Continuous AF</li><li>Manual Focus</li><li>Single + Manual Focus</li><li>AF Tracking</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Single-shot AF</li><li>Continuous AF</li><li>Manual Focus</li><li>Single + Manual Focus</li><li>AF Tracking</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>AF Assist Lamp</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>Yes</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>No</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Exposure Modes</td><td><ul><li>iAuto</li><li>Programe AE</li><li>Aperture Priority AE</li><li>Shutter Priority AE</li><li>Manual</li><li>Art Filter</li><li>Scene Select</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Auto</li><li>Program AE</li><li>Aperture priority AE</li><li>Shutter priority AE</li><li>Manual</li><li>Art Filter</li><li>Scene select</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Scene Modes</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>23 types</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>14 types</li></ul></td></tr><tr>
    <td>Art Filters</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>10 types</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>8 types</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Sensitivity</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>Auto: ISO200 - 12800 (customisable, default 200 - 1600)</li><li>Manual: ISO100 - 12800, 1/3 or 1 EV steps</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Auto: ISO 200 - 3200 (customisable, default 200-800)</li><li>Manual ISO100 - 6400, 1/3 or 1 EV steps</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Metering System</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>TTL Image Sensor metering system</li><li>324-zone multi-pattern</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>TTL Image Sensor metering system</li><li>49-zone multi-pattern</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Shutter Speed</td><td><ul><li>60-1/4000 second</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>60-1/4000 second</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Flash X-sync Speed</td><td><ul><li>1/30-1/180 second</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>1/30-1/180 second</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>White Balance</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>Auto</li><li>Sunny</li>
    <li>Shadow</li><li>Cloudy</li><li>Incandescent</li><li>Fluorescent</li><li>Flash</li><li>12 custom presets</li><li>Kelvin (2000 - 14000 K)</li><li>Flash + WB: Off / AWB Priority / Flash WB priority</li><li>AWB Keep Warm color: Off / On</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Auto</li><li> Cloudy</li><li>Shade</li><li>Flash</li><li>Daylight</li><li>Fluorescent 1</li><li>Fluorescent 2</li><li>Fluorescent 3</li><li>Lamp</li><li>1 custom preset</li><li>Kelvin (2000 - 14000 K)</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Colour Space</td><td><ul><li>sRGB</li><li>Adobe RGB</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>sRGB</li><li>Adobe RGB</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Drive Modes</td><td><ul><li>Single</li><li>Sequential (3fps)</li><li>Self-timer (2 or 12 seconds)</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Single</li><li>Sequential (3fps)</li><li>Self-timer (2 or 12 seconds)</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Built-in Flash</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>Yes</li><li>Guide No. 10m at ISO200</li>
    <li>Mode: TTL-Auto, Manual (Full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64)</li><li>Wireless Flash (4 channels, 3 groups + built-in flash)</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>No</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>External Flash</td><td><ul><li>Hot-Shoe</li><li>Compatible with E-system Flash (FL-50R, FL-36R, FL-50, FL-36, FL-20, FL-14, FL-300R)</li><li>External Flash Control : TTL Auto, Auto, Manual, FP-TTL-Auto, FP-Manual</li><li>Modes: Auto, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction slow sync., Slow sync at 1st curtain, Slow sync at 2nd curtain, Fill-in, Manual (1/4, 1/16, 1/64), Off.</li><li>Flash power: Up to ± 3EV in 1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV steps</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Hot-Shoe</li><li>Compatible with E-system Flash (FL-50R, FL-36R, FL-50, FL-36, FL-20, FL-14)</li><li>External Flash Control : TTL Auto, Auto, Manual, FP-TTL-Auto, FP-Manual</li><li>Modes: Auto, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction slow sync., Slow sync at 1st curtain, Slow sync at 2nd curtain, Fill-in, Manual (1/4, 1/16, 1/64), Off.</li>
    <li>Flash power: Up to +/- 3EV in 1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV steps</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Orientation Sensor</td><td><ul><li>Yes</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Yes</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Electronic Viewfinder</td><td><ul><li>External (optional)</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>External (optional)</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Display</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li> 3.0&quot; 3:2 OLED with Anti-Fingerprint Coating</li><li>Touch panel</li><li>614,000 dots</li><li>100% frame coverage</li><li>Brightness adjustment +2 to -2</li><li>Color Temperature adjustment +3 to -3</li><li>Vivid / Natural</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>3.0&quot; HyperCrystal LCD with Anti-Reflective Coating</li><li>230,000 pixels</li><li>100% frame coverage</li><li>15 step brightness adjustment </li><li>15 step Color Balance adjustment (R-B, G-M)</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Live View</td><td><ul><li>100% field of view</li><li>Max 8 frames of face detection can be displayed</li><li>AF operation</li>
    <li>7x - 14x magnification</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>100% field of view</li><li>Max 8 frames of face detection can be displayed </li><li>AF operation</li><li>7x - 10x magnification</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Editing</td><td><ul><li>RAW development</li><li>JPEG editing (B&amp;W, Sepia, Red eye reduction, Color saturation, Resize, Shadow Adjustment Technology, Anti red-eye)</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>RAW development</li><li>JPEG editing (B&amp;W, Sepia, Red eye reduction, Color saturation, Resize, Shadow Adjustment Technology, Anti red-eye)</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Storage</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS-I compatible)</li><li>FluCard and Eye-Fi compatible</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>SD/SDHC</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Connectivity</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>USB 2.0 (Hi Speed)</li><li>Mini HDMI</li><li>Video Out (NTSC / PAL)</li><li> Accessory Port AP2</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>USB 2.0 (Hi Speed)</li><li> Mini HDMI</li>
    <li> Video Out (NTSC / PAL)</li><li> IR Remote control (optional)</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Power</td><td><ul><li>BLS-5 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (supplied &amp; charger)</li><li>Approx 330 shots (CIPA test standard)</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>BLS-5 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (supplied &amp; charger)</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Dimensions</td><td><ul><li>122mm (W) x 69.1mm (H) x 34.2mm (D) (excluding protrusions)</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>121mm (W) x 70mm (H) x 36mm (D) (excluding protrusions)</li></ul></td></tr><tr><td>Weight</td><td bgcolor="#33FFCC"><ul><li>321g (body only)</li><li>369g (with battery)</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>335g (body only)</li><li>383g (with battery)</li></ul></td></tr></table>



    Appearance and Ergonomics

    When comparing the E-P3 and it's predecessor the E-P2, the first thing you notice is the difference in the screen. Although the screens are of the same size, the E-P3 boasts an OLED screen that promises excellent colour reproduction. At a much higher resolution of 614,000 dots (compared to 230,000 of the E-P2), the E-P3's OLED screen is joy to use; manual focusing and reviewing images are both made easier with the new, high-resolution screen.



    To illustrate this, we used both the E-P3 and E-P2 to take a photo of our Red Dot Photo signboard. Both cameras were set to review images, and a picture was taken of each camera in playback mode. Above are 100% crops off the screens of both cameras; notice the much higher pixel-density on the E-P3's OLED screen relative to the E-P2.



    The E-P3 also features redesigned ergonomics. The mode dial has been reloacted and redesigned to be easier to use. Most obvious to enthusiasts will be the new button layout on the E-P3; there are now two custom function (Fn1 and Fn2) that can be programmed to the photographer's shooting style. More importantly, the Fn2 button is located right next to the shutter button, making it more comfortable for shooters to adjust their most often-used settings. However, there is a limit to what you can map to the Fn buttons; for example, you can't map ISO to Fn buttons, the only place you can do that is at the 4-way d-pad.

    Below you can see the new button layout of the E-P3 against the E-P2.



    A dedicated movie record button is also available on the E-P3; video-recording is now literally a button away, there is no need to turn the mode dial to movie mode unless shooting in AVCHD.

    Responding the user-feedback about the handling of the E-P2, Olympus offers users different sized handgrips for the E-P3. Users can choose to go without a handgrip, with the standard grip, or with a larger-sized handgrip according to their preferences.

    Noise Performance


    To test the E-P3's noise performance, we shot the above scene at increasing ISO levels while adjusting shutter speed to ensure that exposure stayed the same. All shots were taken with the same lens, and cameras were set to their default JPEG settings. 100% crops of the same area are then compared.

    With it's new TruePic VI image processor, noise control is much better on the E-P3 than the E-P2. On the E-P2, noise became noticeable at ISO1600 and images shot at ISO3200 and above experienced discolouration and loss of detail. In contrast, the E-P3 is useable up to ISO6400; noise is well controlled, and there is no discolouration as ISO is increased.

    The chart below displays our noise test results. Test shots from the new Panasonic DMC-GF3 are included for comparison as well. Do click the image below for the full-sized version.



    Auto-Focus
    The PEN E-P3 is touted as having the world's fastest single-shot autofocus. By driving the Live MOS Sensor at double the speed of the predecessor the E-P2, image signals are sent at a much faster rate to the AF system, which itself runs at twice the speed of the previous generation. Olympus claims that the result is a system that focuses at almost three times the speed of its predecessor. An MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) lens is needed to take full advantage of the new AF system though.



    The new AF system allowed Olympus to introduce touch-shooting with the E-P3. Users are able to touch the screen to focus on a point of choice, and with the speed of focus a photo is taken almost immediately after. It's near-instantaneous, and quite impressive.

    Olympus also introduced a new eye-detect AF mode in the E-P3. When enabled, the AF system ensures that subjects' eyes are in focus, making it easy for shooters to take engaging portraits.

    Scene Modes and Art Filters
    Building on the popularity of in-camera image processing, the E-P3 comes with 23 scene modes (up from the E-P2's fourteen) and 10 art filters (up from the E-P2's eight). With the E-P3's new double-speed imager, scene modes and art filters alike are much more responsive than they were on the E-P2. For some examples of some art filters in action, see our sample gallery at the end of this review.

    Additional Features
    The E-P3 features a built-in pop-up flash. With a guide number of 10m at ISO200, it's useful for those situations where you need that little bit of extra fill flash.



    Another additional feature is the addition of a 'digital teleconverter' to the E-P3. Essentially a 2x digital zoom, it gives shooters more reach for those situations where their lenses just won't do.

    Conclusion


    With it's lightning-fast AF and better ergonomics, the Olympus PEN E-P3 is marked improvement from the E-P2. Solid without being bulky, it offers great image quality and fine-control in a nicely-sized camera body. Without a doubt, it's one of the best Micro Four Thirds system cameras today.

    The Olympus PEN E-P3, while not yet available in the market, is likely to retail for about S$1100 with a kit lens.

    Sample Gallery

    (14mm, f/9.0, 1/500s, ISO200, Dramatic Tone Art Filter)


    (42mm, f/9.0, 1/250s, ISO200, Diorama Art Filter)

    More Samples from the NDP Rehearsal on 9th July 2011!

    (14mm, f/7.1, 1/320s, ISO200)


    (14mm, f/3.5, 1/15s, ISO200, Grainy Film art filter)


    (14mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO200, Diorama art filter)


    (14mm, f/5.6, 1/500s, ISO200, Dramatic Tone Art Filter)
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Olympus PEN E-P3 Review started by CCJ View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. toffee bread's Avatar
      Olympus E-P3 retail street price in Singapore is out!

      Click here!



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