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...?
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.
That’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.
There 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.