Olympus E-PL3 Review: Almost a Great Camera

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Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 7
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 4
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Expandability
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 6.80
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


  • Pros

    • Faster burst shooting mode
    • Improved AF speed
    • Tilting LCD
  • Cons

    • Uncomfortable design
    • No built-in flash
    • Unused LCD real estate

Quick Take

There's plenty to like about the E-PL3. Great images and video, much improved AF performance and a tilting LCD all earn high remarks in our full review. However, we stop just short of a full recommendation.

For those of our readers who don’t already know, the joint development of the Micro Four Thirds system by Olympus and Panasonic in 2009 allowed for the creation of a whole new category of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that have since flooded the enthusiast photography market.

With cameras like the new Olympus E-PL3, you get DSLR-like image quality and the ability to use interchangeable lenses in a camera that is only slightly larger than a point-and-shoot digital camera. What’s not to love? On paper the E-PL3 looks almost perfect… but there’s an old saying about things that look too good to be true.

The 12 megapixel E-PL3 includes built-in image stabilization and dust reduction like the rest of the Olympus Pen series, but offers an impressive performance boost over the older Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras thanks to speedy autofocus and a noticeably faster burst shooting speed (more on that later).

The E-PL3 has a 3.0-inch articulating monitor, can shoot 1080i HD video, provides automatic and full manual controls as well as the ability to shoot JPEG and RAW. There’s also face detection with the all-new Olympus FAST AF system, and the new “TruePic VI” dual-core image processor which includes “Real Color Technology” and Advanced SAT (Shadow Adjustment Technology). The E-PL3 loses the built-in flash found on previous models and has replaced it with a “clip-on” flash that slides into the camera’s hot shoe and is powered by the accessory port.

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