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...?

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3

Image Quality:90%
Overall score:88%


  • Metal body, fast autofocus, wireless flash ability, good lower ISO image quality


  • Continuous and Tracking focusing speeds, no built-in flash (included hotshoe mount version instead), 16:9 ratio screen makes for small 4:3 image preview, high ISO image quality


Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 Review


Price as reviewed:


Value & Verdict

Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 review – Value

Available for £550 upon launch the E-PL3 is slightly pricier than its closest Compact System Camera competitors. By comparison the Panasonic Lumix G3 (which has both a built-in flash and electronic viewfinder) can be bought online for £490 with a 14-42mm lens.

Olympus E-PL3 top | News | What Digtial CameraThat’s not to say the E-PL3 doesn’t post good value however. It produces images of a better quality than its Micro Four Thirds competition (though doesn’t outsmart the APS-C Samsung and Sony competitors) and has features such as wireless flash control that offer bags of potential. The metal body also exudes quality that’s worth paying for. It’s just a shame to lose the built in flash that the E-PL2 featured at the expense of the E-PL3’s new, smaller body size.

Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 review – Verdict

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.

Olympus E-PL3 front | News | What Digtial CameraThere are one or two issues: The 3in, 16:9 ratio screen shows 4:3 shots closer to 2.5in in size; while the lack of a built-in flash seems a backwards step from the E-PL2 (though there is a flash in the box and the hotshoe mount formula may be the best solution for those wanting to get involved in the E-PL3’s wireless flash capabilities).

With so much else going for it, including the improved AVCHD-able movie mode with full manual exposure control, and decent image quality at the lower ISO settings, the E-PL3 is among the better-equipped Compact System Cameras out there. We like it a lot.


Lens Mount:Micro Four Thirds
White Balance:Auto / Sunny / Shadow / Cloudy / Incandescent / Fluorescent / Underwater / WB Flash / Capture WB 1 & 2, Manual
Memory Card:SD (HC/XC)
Built-in Flash:No
Exposure Comp:+/- 3 EV
Cable Release:No
Compression:Fine / Normal (JPEG)
PC Socket:No
Output Size:4032 x 3024
Viewfinder Type:N/A
LCD:3in, 16:9 ratio, 460k-dot, tilt-angle LCD
Field of View:100% approx (LCD)
Colour Temp Control:2000K - 14000K
AF Points:35-point system
White Balance Bracket:3 frames at 2/4/6 steps
Sensor:12.3MP LiveMOS (Micro Four Thirds)
Max Flash Sync:1/160th sec
Focal Length Mag:2x
DoF Prview:No
Built-in Image Stabilisation:Yes, sensor-based
Other:Metal body
Dust Reduction:Yes
Metering System:324-zone multi-pattern system
Live Mode:Yes
Movie Mode:Yes, 1080i60 AVCHD (17Mbps); M-JPEG (AVI) also available (lower data rate)
Power:Rechargeable li-ion battery
Exposure Modes:iAuto, P, S, A, M, Art Filters, Scene modes
Connectivity:USB 2.0, mini HDMI, A/V out, Accessory Port 2
Weight:313g approx
Dimensions:109.5mm (W) x 63.7mm (H) x 37.3mm (D)
File Format:JPEG, RAW (ORF), RAW + JPEG
Shutter Speeds:60 – 1/4000th second
Focusing Modes:S-AF (Single), C-AF (Continuous), MF (Manual), S-AF+MF (Single with Manual override), C-AF+TR (Continuous Subject Tracking)
Colour Space:sRGB, Adobe RGB
Drive Mode:Single, Burst (High to 5.5fps/Low), Self-timer (2/12sec)
  1. 1. Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 review - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Movie/Video Mode
  6. 6. Value & Verdict
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