Olympus's mid-range E-PL3 is small, light and finished with a sturdy metal body. With super-fast autofocus is this the PEN Lite the ultimate Micro Four Thirds model...?
Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 review – Design
The PEN range has a unique feel about it compared to other Compact System Cameras, and the E-PL3 continues to raise the bar in quality terms. The model’s metal body is a sure improvement over the plastic casing of the E-PL2. The silver model provided for this review looks classy, and the beveled Olympus logo on the front of the camera shows care and attention to the finish. While the body shape is a simple rectangular shape, the edges have been smoothed out with subtle curves – it’s not a design innovation, yet its bold and simple look is striking.
However, such a smooth finish does mean there’s no textured grip to the camera’s front for any extra sturdy hold onto the body. Furthermore the 3in, 16:9 ratio LCD screen may help in keeping body height to a minimum, but for a camera that shoots 4:3 ratio shots (by default) there’s a loss of viewing real estate. In fact 4:3 shots view at just under 2.5in.
Controlling the camera feels like a hybrid between a DSLR and a compact camera. There’s a main mode dial on top and four-way d-pad that doubles up as a rotational control wheel on the rear. A handful of extra buttons, including a one-touch movie activation, also appear on the body, while menu access is divided into a quick selection via the OK button or a more in-depth (though ultimately similar set of choices) selection via the main Menu button. The only qualm here is that the placement of the shutter button and the mode dial feel a teeny little bit unnatural.