With the world’s fastest autofocus system is the latest PEN the best Compact System Camera yet? The What Digital Camera Olympus PEN E-P3 review reveals all…

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Olympus PEN E-P3

Overall score:88%
Image Quality:90%


  • Built-in flash (finally), fast autofocus, OLED screen, manual movie and CAF features


  • Poor subject tracking, a little expensive, no standard microphone port, poor battery life


Olympus PEN E-P3 Review


Price as reviewed:


Value & Verdict

Olympus PEN E-P3 review – Value

Olympus E-P3 front News | What Digital Camera

Since its launch the PEN range hasn’t been targeted at the ‘budget’ end. The E-P3’s RRP is £799 with the 14-42mm kit lens which makes it among the more expensive of Compact System Cameras. It is, however, a good £120 less than the E-P2 was upon its launch, so at least that’s a step in the right direction.

Main competitors include the Panasonic Lumix G3 for around £620, the Sony NEX-5 for £510 and the Samsung NX11 for £420.

Olympus PEN E-P3 review – Verdict

The E-P3 is an impressive Micro Four Thirds camera. It’s well built, looks the part and takes great pictures to high ISO settings too. The inclusion of a new built-in flash and AF illuminator finally lays to rest the complaints of previous models. Furthermore the FAST AF system is truly superfast, though the tracking modes aren’t up to scratch for action shots. Although there’s no built-in viewfinder and £800 isn’t cheap in this market, the inclusion of a touchscreen OLED and manual movie mode are further justification for the cost. This is certainly the best PEN yet, and is among the best Compact System Cameras on the market.


Output Size:4032x 3024 (4:3)
AF Points:35-Area
Colour Temp Control:200 – 14,000 Kelvin
Field of View:100% approx
LCD:3in, 610k-dot, touchscreen OLED (not LCD!)
White Balance Bracket:Yes
Sensor:12.3 megapixel Micro Four Thirds Live MOS
Max Flash Sync:1/180th sec
Focal Length Mag:2x
Other:Wireless flash sync
DoF Prview:No
Dust Reduction:Yes, Supersonic Wave Filter
Built-in Image Stabilisation:Yes, sensor-based
Metering System:324 zones Multi-pattern Sensing System
Movie Mode:Yes, AVCHD or M-JPEG at 1080i
Live Mode:Yes
Exposure Modes:Programme automatic, i-Auto, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Scene Modes, Art Filter, Movie
Connectivity:HDMI, USB 2.0, Accessory Port
Weight:321 g (without battery and card)
Power:Rechargeable li-ion battery (330 shots per charge)
File Format:RAW, JPEG, RAW + JPEG
Shutter Speeds:2 - 1/4000 s (not available when Bulb is selected)
Dimensions:122.0 x 69.1 x 34.3 mm
Focusing Modes:Single (AF-S), Continuous (C-AF), Manual (MF), Single + MF (S-AF MF), AF Tracking (C-AF TR)
Drive Mode:Single, Continuous (3fps max), Self-timer 2sec / 12sec
Colour Space:sRGB, Adobe RGB
Viewfinder Type:No viewfinder (optional EVF available via Accessory Port & Hotshoe connection)
PC Socket:No
Cable Release:No
Exposure Comp:Yes, ±3EV (in 1/3 stops)
Memory Card:SD (HC/XC)
Built-in Flash:Yes, GN 10 (ISO 200)
Lens Mount:Micro Four Thirds
White Balance:Auto, Tungsten, Flourescent 1, Sunlight, Flash, Overcast, Shade, Manual, WB bracketing, one-touch white balance
  1. 1. Olympus PEN E-P3 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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