Conclusion: The Olympus PEN E-PL3 delivers impressive performance when it comes to speed, but is held back by noisy images at higher ISO settings and a kit lens that delivers so-so sharpness at longer focal lengths.
Pros: Tilting 3-inch LCD. Fast autofocus system. In-camera artistic filters. Accessory port for optional EVF.
Cons: High noise at ISO 1600 and above. No built-in flash. Menu system is unintuitive and can be slow.
Excerpt: Olympus has continued to expand its Micro Four Thirds (MFT) repertoire with new models for its PEN series. While the manufacturer might be finding itself in the news for, ahem, less than exemplary corporate behavior , its cameras measure up. The E-PL3 is no exception, which though deviating significantly from the design of the E-PL2 , still manages to turn heads for its good looks and pack a couple of worthwhile technical upgrades.
Pros: Convenient tilt-out screen, Super fast, quiet AF system, High image quality, Impressively slim body
Cons: Sits awkwardly—body is weighed down by the lens, No automatic playback, No pop-up flash
Summary: While it's not the best in any particular aspect, and you probably don't want to use it for video, the Olympus PEN E-PL3 offers an excellent balance of size, features, performance, and photo quality for the money.
Pros: With a broad feature set aimed at enthusiasts, tilting LCD, nicely implemented filters, good performance, and excellent raw photo quality, plus a price that's less burdensome than the E-P3's, there's a lot to appreciate about the Olympus PEN E-PL3 .
Cons: The PEN E-PL3's video disappoints, and the camera's lack of a grip may prove annoying for some shooters.
Summary: The Olympus Pen E-PL3 is a 12.3 megapixel mirrorless ILC based on the Micro Four Thirds standard. The middle of the range Pen, it combines a high degree of control and customisation with ease of use features in a compact and sylish body that features built-in sensor-shift image stabilisation.
Also known as the Pen 'Lite' this model imroves on its predecessor in a number of ways.
Pros: Built-in stabilisation works with any lens., Excellent all-round image quality., Highly customisable., Good range of movie exposure modes., Fast startup and AF response.
Cons: 16:9 screen not ideal for still photos., Poorly positioned control wheel., Lacks composite HDR and low light mode.
Summary: Small and with an elegant metal finish the E-PL3 brings together much of what was lacking from its predecessors. This middle-of-range model is shrewdly positioned yet still offers the same autofocus speed and image quality of its bigger brother E-P3 model for some £250 less. While the E-PL3's £550 asking price may not be the most budget out there, it significantly cuts back on the rather expensive E-PL2 kit which will open it up to more users.
Conclusion: There’s plenty to like and very little to gripe. The gripe being the exclusion of a HDMI cable in the kit – considering the Full HD video option and the number of large screen TVs rolling out the doors of retailers. Otherwise, the Olympus PEN E-PL3 digital camera is a beautiful looking camera capable of delivering crisp Full HD video, sharp still images at break neck focussing speeds, loads of manual dslr-like capabilities, fun ART filters and plenty more.
Excerpt: The Olympus E-PL3 ($699 with lens) is the midrange model in the "Pen" lineup. This camera, also known as the Pen Lite, sits between the entry-level E-PM1 ($499) and the higher-end E-P3 ($899). As you might have guessed, it's also the replacement for the E-PL2, and there are some major changes to be found.
Summary: 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.
Pros: 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
Cons: Lack of grip makes it uncomfortable to hold, No built-in flash, Widescreen LCD on a 4/3 format camera
Summary: The Olympus E-PL3 offers ample external control points, a tilting LCD screen, and fast AF performance along with high image quality in a small, stylish package. Although the complexity of the menu system may require an initial learning curve for new users, the E-PL3 is a pleasant-handling and very well-specified camera that can capture excellent images with a minimum of fuss.
Pros: Very good low ISO image quality and resolution, Fast and responsive operation, Fast, accurate autofocus, Full HD AVCHD video, Attractive styling and solid, metal construction, A high number of external controls for its body size, Tilt-screen LCD, AF assist lamp, In-camera Raw edit capability, High degree of camera and menu customization, Art filters offer fun, creative effects with numerous variants
Cons: High ISO noise performance lagging behind competitors' newer sensors, Overly aggressive default noise filter setting for JPEG output, Digital IS for video capture can introduce unnatural-looking footage, Size and positioning of control dial makes its use somewhat awkward, Lack of a hand grip makes for a less comfortable handling experience, 16x9 format LCD is less than ideal for viewing 4:3 still images, Use of clip-on flash precludes use of an EVF or any other access...
Conclusion: It's beautifully engineered, stylish and puts in a blisteringly quick performance. As a compact system camera in its own right, we have to say it offers one of the best user experiences we've encountered to date, and as such we'd happily recommend it to a budding enthusiast in search of lightweight alternative to an entry-level DSLR.