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May 19, 2012

Camera Review: Olympus E-PL3

by Stephen Ashby

Is it time to upgrade from your compact camera?

Camera Review: Olympus E-PL3If you’re considering the step up from a compact camera to something a little more professional, there are a is range of options that you can choose from. One of the best was the now off-sale E-PL2 from Olympus, so the newest model in the PEN series has a lot to live up to.

The E-PL3 has a number of cosmetic differences from its predecessor, with the most obvious being the moveable LED screen on the back. The hinged system aids when taking shots from extreme angles, and it works brilliantly, enabling you to get really low without needing to lie on the floor for the shot you want.Camera Review: Olympus E-PL3

Camera Review: Olympus E-PL3The sensor inside the camera is a 12-megapixel MOS sensor, which will produce images that are well above those of compact cameras in terms of quality. The three-inch display can’t quite match some AMOLED screens we’ve seen, but our snaps still look great.

One really impressive point is the shutter speed of the camera – taking a shot takes just 60ms, meaning you won’t need to worry about missing a thing. The kit lens included with the camera is 14-42mm, which will perform well enough for many situations, but most previous PEN lenses will also fit. The lens does add some bulk to the otherwise extremely svelte casing, but this is minimised thanks to the way the lens stores itself compactly. Turning on the camera is a two-step process – pressing the power button and extending the lens – but we can forgive this for the saved space.

Camera Review: Olympus E-PL3One thing we did have something of a problem with was the lack of integrated flash. As the E-PL3’s previous models both included this, we can only assume it’s to save more space. You do get an attachable flash in the box, and while it looks surprisingly nice, it’s still adding bulk to the unit, and it would surely be easy to forget. Still, for day-shooters this shouldn’t be a problem, and it’s certainly not the end of the world as images taken with the flash, and other low-light images were perfectly respectable thanks to the ISO settings.

Camera Review: Olympus E-PL3The software in the E-PL3 was really impressive; the excellent Live Guide gives you a series of settings such as background blur and colour saturation that can be altered by adjusting sliders onscreen, and there are six quite brilliant Art Filter settings, which apply modes such as Pin Hole and Dramatic to your images live, with fantastic results.

It’s expensive, but if you want a camera that takes fantastic quality images instantly, and if you’re not to worried about an integrated flash, you should upgrade now – there’s never been a better time to do it.

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