The Olympus E-PL3 is a camera that I genuinely wanted to love, but at the end of the day I can’t be very enthusiastic about this camera. For starters, not only does the lack of a grip make the E-PL3 uncomfortable to hold, but I can’t escape the feeling that the Olympus design team did little more than copy the shape of last year’s Sony NEX-3. The E-PL3 is compatible with the vast selection of Micro Four Thirds lenses and it features blazingly fast autofocus, but things like the lack of a built-in flash and the strange choice of a 16:9 ratio widescreen LCD on a camera that produces 4:3 ratio images make the E-PL3 that much less appealing.
Video quality is good, and the one-button video mode combined with silent auto focus (with kit lens) make the E-PL3 a great choice for people who want an interchangeable lens camera and a HD video camera in one package. If high ISO performance and dynamic range were just a little better I would have absolutely no complaints about the image quality coming from this camera.
At the end of the day, whether or not you buy the E-PL3 is largely a matter of tradeoffs. If you want a compact camera with articulating LCD, a great selection of lenses and very good image quality, the E-PL3 is a smart choice. However, you have to put up with a camera that is downright “painful” to hold, displays a relatively tiny image on only part of the LCD, lacks a built-in flash, and doesn’t deliver noise-free high ISO.
- Faster burst mode than the more expensive E-P3
- Good still image quality and excellent video quality
- Faster autofocus than previous m4/3 cameras
- Tilting LCD
- Lack of grip makes it uncomfortable to hold
- No built-in flash
- Widescreen LCD on a 4/3 format camera