Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Olympus E-P3 Review: Final Words

Side Note:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in JPEG LSF (Large Super Fine).
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = Low, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. Only exposure compensation (brightness/contrast) and cropping performed for better consistency and overall presentation. Apart from that, the images were as good as straight out of camera (color and sharpness)

This is the FINAL part of my blog review for Olympus E-P3. I have brought the E-P3 to the Zoo Negara for some light shooting , hence I will share about this shooting session along with some concluding remarks on the E-P3. The conclusions are written based on all my previous reviews, if you have not read them, please go to Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Before I go on, allow me to share my friend Koon Yik's compilation of photographs and sharing on his user experience with the Olympus E-P3, which can be found at the link here (click). I am sure many of you will find his sharing useful. I personally enjoy reading his E-Book. Do give it a read !!

E-P3 is for Advanced Users

After shooting for a few days with the Olympus E-P3, it is apparent that the camera is targeted towards advanced users that know what they want and what they are doing with the camera. There are inclusions of I.Auto mode and a series of Art Filters to toy around with, but to be able to bring the camera to its fullest potential the user needs to be fairly familiar with general camera technicalities. Being a full metal body provided the camera with additional weight that is important to counter-balance heavier and larger lenses for better gripping and handling, hence the camera is not as feather weight and tiny as many casual shooters would hope for. In addition to that, the dual dials on the camera emphasized firmly on how the E-P3 is designed for more advanced controls: when shooting in Manual mode, you can use one dial to control the shutter speed while adjusting the aperture value on the other one. Furthermore, I was very happy Olympus still maintained their traditional super control panel from the E-System DSLR, where you can basically access, review and control almost all the settings on a single page layout. I find this to be very simple, straightforward and convenient, negating the need to dive deep into submenus of submenus. Indeed, E-P3 is not for those who are fresh to photography, it is designed for photographers who want a powerful, efficient and reliable second camera system for backups or other purposes (such as street shooting).


14-42mm Mk2R, 1/160sec, F/5.6, ISO400


Ok, lets start with the good stuff first.

What I Like About E-P3

1. Improved Autofocus

Olympus claimed E-P3 to possess the world’s fastest autofocus on any digital camera in comparison up to date. This surely was a confident and bold claim. It is not my place to justify this fact, but I personally find the autofocus to be extremely fast and accurate. It is indeed faster than many DSLRs I have used from multiple brands. There was no problem for the focusing to pick up on subjects in rapid motion and snap immediately to freeze the moment as you command the camera to. Olympus has solved one of the troubling problems in their PEN system, and now there is one less issue to complain about the PEN.

2. Breaking the limitations of 4/3 sized sensor

Olympus has finally come up with a new sensor of their own, and this time, they have done significant enhancements in every image quality aspects. First impression has shown a step up in terms of dynamic range. Highlight retention has always been an issue for any Olympus cameras, but the highlight details were handled very well in the E-P3 in harsh contrast conditions. High ISO shooting performance has been improved as well, and can be evidently noticed instantly during my first encounter with the E-P3. I find myself comfortable shooting with the E-P3 up to ISO3200.

This is amazing because just about 2 years ago I have to keep my ISO level on my old Olympus DSLR E-520 down to 400, and the noise level at ISO800 came out unusable in many situations. Who would have thought that anyone can shoot high ISO with Olympus? On the other hand, the noise banding issue has been mitigated, and I can hear many sighs of relief from you all. Pixel-peeping the shots I have produced with the E-P3, the only thing that the image quality lacks in comparison with what I can do with the E-5 is the overall sharpness, somehow the output on the E-P3 exhibited noticeable overall softness at high ISO images, but again as I have mentioned, this was not a fair statement to make due to the use of different set of lenses (both 11-22mm and 50mm on E-5, super sharp HG lenses). It is great to see progress in the PEN cameras; God knows how long everyone has waited for this to happen!!

40-150mm R, 1/400s, F/4.6, ISO1000

75-300mm, 1/400s, F/6.2, ISO1600
There is a need to push up the ISO to achieve at least 1/300s shutter speed on 300mm tele-photo end to mitigate hand shake blur. If you have really used the 75-300mm lens, or any lens at such long range you would know the necessity to achieve at least 1/focal length sec shutter speed.

75-300mm, 1/125s, F/6.3, ISO1000

100% Crop from previous image.

75-300mm, 1/250s, F/6.7, ISO3200

75-300mm, 1/30s, F/8, ISO640
A panning attempt. Maybe I should slow down the shutter speed a little more.



3. Solid Construction

The full metal construction clearly distinguishes E-P3 from other PEN cameras, as well as from other manufacturers’ cameras. The moment I held the camera up it just felt so good on hand. The extra weight is a bonus for advanced shooters, because with the added weight it is easier to balance the attached lens and steady the camera better before releasing the shutter button. I do admit I did not quite like the cheap and plastic feel of the E-PL1 (it is an entry level PEN after all, not expecting much).

4. Optimized JPEG Straight out of camera

This has always been one of Olympus’ greatest strengths against the competitors. The JPEG engine (Trupic 6) faithfully reproduces realistic and pleasing looking colors; I found no need to tweak anything at all. The white balance is very reliable. Overall the sharpness and contrast of the image are excellent, maintaining admirable amount of details while effectively reducing the noise level. The only reason I needed to do post processing was due to my own error in controlling my exposure settings while shooting.


75-300mm, 1/200s, F/6.7, ISO3200
Yes I do like square crop. Man, even at 1/200s, I could not completely freeze the action.

75-300mm, 1/200s, F/5.8, ISO2000
Swimming cat.

75-300mm, 1/160s, F/6.7, ISO1600

75-300mm, 1/100s, F/6.1, ISO400

75-300mm, 1/125s, F/6.0, ISO1600

75-300mm, 1/160s, F/6.7, ISO200


E-P3 is not perfect. There are some things I wish that could have been improved.

What I hope could have been better in E-P3

1, Longer battery life

For an advanced camera, the battery life is unacceptably short. There will be a BLS-5 that has some new safety features to comply with the new standards, but the battery capacity remains the same as the previous BLS-1. I was supplied with BLS-1, and I brought three BLS-1 fully charged batteries out for a full day shooting, but all the batteries died out on me even before sunset. I did not use the electronic viewfinder which could have drained the batteries even faster. On average, I could produce 350 shots with a single fully changed BLS-1, and that is NOT sufficient for my photography needs. I know I should have more back-up batteries but seriously, if I were to have a safe 3000 shots for a huge full day event coverage, I will need to bring out at least 10 BLS-1 batteries and that is insane !! Imagine the hassle to charge all the batteries just before the event, oh gosh how many chargers do I need? Shooting with the E-520 and E-5 previously, one single charge of BLM-1 can last me more than 1000 shots, and for that same event as I mentioned previously, I only needed to bring out 3 BLM batteries with a lot of safe buffer. I know I sound like I am expecting too much, but bumping up the battery endurance to at least 500-600 shots per charge will make everyone’s life much better. I am a heavy shooter and I cannot afford to worry about when the camera batteries will die on me while I was concentrating on getting my shots.


2. Tilt or Swivel Display Screen

I shoot a lot of low angle and high angle shots and I really appreciate the flexibility of the dual axis swivel screen display of my E-5. I see no reason why this cannot be incorporated into the advanced PEN E-P3, and I am very sure videographers who decided to shoot with PEN would treasure this feature too. Composition is extremely important in photography, hence having the swivel screen really does open up a lot of creative options by placing the camera at positions where human body may be difficult to bend into or reach, for example lying on the floor to capture a bottom up shot.

3. Larger grip for handling.

The E-P3 comes with an interchangeable rubber grip, but the one I was supplied with was not good enough. Perhaps Olympus would come up with larger and better grip that the user can wrap all their fingers firmly onto. Gripping on the camera is very important; it provides the stability and comfort the photographer needs to endure long shooting hours. The size and ergonomics of the E-P3 are fine generally, but a larger and more substantial grip can improve the handling of the camera a lot better. Shooting whole day with the default supplied grip, I did feel strains on my wrists especially when I was handling larger lenses like the 75-300mm. Funny, because I never felt this kind of strain when I was shooting with larger and much heavier DSLR bodies and lenses, such as E-5 (which has an awesome grip by the way). I have average small size Asian hands, those with larger hands; this will become more of an issue. This shows how important balance and grip handling of the camera are.

75-300mm, 1/160s, F/6.7, ISO800

75-300mm, 1/160s, F/4.8, ISO800

ISO6400
14-42mm Mk2 R, 1/50s, F/4.0, ISO6400


PEN is definitely growing and maturing into a fully capable system that offers the best of both worlds from DSLR and compact point and shoot. I think the main thing that really made PEN work is the fact that it produces image quality on par with DSLR due to the use of the DSLR sized sensor in it. With the image quality improvements on the new Olympus own-designed 12MP sensor and the ultra-fast autofocus system, the E-P3 bridges the gap between PEN and DSLR closer and closer. In fact, autofocus and image quality should not be the main reasons to support the choice of DSLR anymore. Yet, PEN is so much more smaller and lighter that it encourages you to bring it out everywhere you go to. You can fit the PEN with a few lenses into a smaller bag, and you can chuck that small camera bag into your everyday carry around handbag or backpack. The best camera you have is the camera that you can bring around at all times.

I strongly believe that PEN is the way to go for the future, and there would come a time where using a huge-sized DSLR will be a joke, but obviuosly that time is still far from now. Olympus has shown what they could do in just two years with their PEN, and how far they have improved in terms of usability and breaking many limitations such as the autofocus performance and overall image quality. Olympus is making a bold statement with the E-P3, that they are not backing down or giving up after all the bashing and complains going around, they are here to stay, and they are here to fight. In fact, they have raised the bar of expectations for what a mirrorless camera shoulr be with the E-P3, and PEN system as a whole. Having said that, I am only looking forward to what is more to come in the future. Yes, everyone is starting to talk about the rumored PRO PEN camera.


14-42mm Mk2 R, 1/200s, F/5.6, ISO400

I would like to thank you all beautiful readers out there for being here supporting this blog and my review works. As brief as this encounter has been, it has been very enjoyable and fulfilling.  I appreciate all the overwhelming comments, emails and feedback. Feel free to continue pouring them in, because I am NOT getting paid for this review work, and Olympus Malaysia has made it clear that I will NOT be getting a camera this time.

My final words, lets all go out and have some Shutter Therapy !!

Please do not hesitate to leave a comment here or email me directly at hamish7ian@gmail.com for any questions or feedback.

73 comments:

  1. Robin,

    Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into this thorough review! It helped a lot to get a sense of the E-P3.

    Battery life is a bummer. Are there no features that could be disabled to help the battery last longer?

    Cheers,
    Markus

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Markus,
    Thank you so much for your compliments. I am sure glad you found my review work helpful.
    There are a few things to do to proling battery life:
    1) Turn off the screen when you not use it
    2) Switch of IS if you do not need it

    Other than that, there really is not much to do. Good advise to get more spares, just in case.

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  3. Heya Robin,

    You sure post quickly! Anyway thank you again for your finale, majority of my questions has been answered with your review and I'm am now leaning on the 2nd grip for the EP-3 even more.

    I played with the EP-2 at the Olyclubph and found the grip so hard to hold thanks to being so used to the E-520 and E-30 which are so well balanced to use on the field, the EPL-2 had the best grip I have used for the Pens though.

    But Im surprised that the Panasonic LX-5 we have has an even better grip than the EP-2 design, wish the EP-3 addressed it without us having to buy the 2ndary grip thus saving $$$.

    I plan to use the add on EVF alongside legacy lenses with the EP-3 most especially the fast ones I own here, Canon FL 58mm F1.2 & OM 50mm F1.4 and reading the grip issue has made want to get the other grip being offered.

    The battery life is a bummer but it is a give and take where we receive more for such a small package, it is not perfect but nothing too hard to solve but a bit costly since we have to get additional batteries, dough!

    Going back I'm surprised with the high ISO for daylight, ISO 3200 is indeed usable and no more chroma noise rearing it's ugly head and luminance noise is very acceptable & once printed will go well with matte-linen papers.

    Thanks again Robin for your personal views of this camera as it helps us from other parts of the world to decide if it is the model for us, kudos to you & keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello Jaime,
    Thank you so much for such kind words !!! They mean a lot to me, really.

    It is true that the grip on any of the PENs at the moment is still not substantial enough, and this is especially true to us coming from DSLR background. Nonetheless, I think Olympus is playing it safe by making the grip detachable as a separate accessory, you know, just in case some people start complaining how big and chunky the better grip is, versus the whole philosophy of PEN being smaller and lighter.

    If you intend to shoot with manual focus lenses, yes, the EVF is extremely crucial for your focusing confirmation. It is much clearer on the EVF than on the screen display.

    If anyone wants to get E-P3 for real serious shooting, spare batteries (note the plural emphasis) are necessities.

    It was my pleasure being able to share with the community. I just hope that many will find my review work useful.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for sharing us this wonderful in depth EP3 review. You have answered alot of questions based on your user experience. Am confident that alot of people are beginning to notice how well the EP3 performs and will satisfy ther photographic needs. Job well done indeed!

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  6. Thanks a lot Eric !!!
    Your comment means a lot to me.

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  7. Thanks for the review! It was very interesting read!

    Re battery life. Does E-P3 shows percentage of battery charge? Or is it like it was before e.g. on E-520: indicator was all the time green, but then shortly before being empty it turned orange and when empty it turned red. It was very very very annoying that it was impossible to see just how much juice had left in the battery. Oftentimes it was happening that after taking single shot indicator was turning orange/red, meaning that I had very very few shots left and overall shouldn't have bothered bringing the camera along. I understand that pros/enthusiasts would have spare charged batteries with them, but I as an amateur rarely prepare for the shooting that seriously and generally take the camera with me mostly on a whim. And it is very annoying when a $50 dumbphone can tell me how much precisely talking time I have left, yes $600 camera can't.

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  8. This zoo looks like a amazing place! I love the shot of the hippo which looks rich in detail and has great tones.


    Andre

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  9. Hello Ihar,
    Thanks a lot for the compliments.
    The battery indicator has only three steps, but at the final remaining bar you still can squeeze out 40-40 shots before yje battery flattens out.
    Yes, if they can show the percentage, it would be really great !!!

    Hey Andre,
    The zoo is not exactly that great of a place, the animals look skinny and undernourished.

    ReplyDelete
  10. There is a better place not far from the zoo. You know...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank for your review, and for the pics!
    I have a question: how noisy is the shutter? Is it the same as the E-PL1 or more silent?

    Thanks for your time,
    Alf

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  12. Hello alf,
    thanks for the kind commens
    the shutter sound is rather similar to all previous PEN due to similar shutter unit being used. In comparison to epl1 the shutter sound is more muffled probably due to the thick metal body.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Olympus "is here to stay" is a bold statement given the abysmal financial results of their consumer camera division. I'm betting it will be either spin off or sold out with 2011.

    Love their cameras, though.

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  14. I had a question: is there a bracketing option in the quick menu? That's the only reason I use the normal menu on my E-PL1 in normal shooting.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lets just wait and see what happens.
    I have faith they will survive.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I cannot answer that question because I did not use the bracketing option, and I don't have the camera with me, its already been returned to Olympus Malaysia. I will try to ask if I can.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Robin,

    Nice review. I like it very much.

    I had a chance to test E-P3 as well. OOC JPGs awesome - much better than E-PL2 or any other camera in the market.

    I didn't have problems with battery life. I could take approx. 300 photos + some movies with one battery, which is pretty good for camera that uses LCD screen and live view so heavily. If you use live view on DSLRs, you would get pretty much the same battery performance.

    But, the problem with battery indicator, as somebody mentioned for E-510, is still here. Going from half battery to empty is in a blink of an eye compared to getting to half battery from full. Not cool, but you should get at least one spare battery anyway.

    Best regards,
    John
    http://www.m43photo.com/blog/posts/HowTo/

    ReplyDelete
  18. hello John,
    Thanks so much for the kind comments.
    Indeed, a spare battery is a necessity, may I be so bold to say for long hour shooting one would require at least two spares.
    Usually, when I notice that the battery indicator starts to show low (red) I would quickly switch to a spare and not wait till it dies out. The sudden death can be quite shocking and troublesome.
    I have seen your articles on the E-P3, really love what you are doing there !! I will hop over and say hi.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Robin, thanks for your kind words. I am a big fan of your site.

    Warm regards,
    John
    m43photo.com

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hello john,
    thank you so much!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi, Robin! it's been a while since I commented on your posts, but I just wanted to say "thank you" for continuing to post reviews. Because of your thorough review of the E5, along with saving my pennies, I was finally able to purchase the E5 with confidence. I'm so happy I have it! I knew the (few) shortcomings of the camera before I purchased it, along with all the wonderful things about it. There were no surprises! ...except maybe how in LOVE I am with the camera. :)

    Thank you for taking the time to post such thorough and honest reviews. I know you love Olympus, but I know you'd never "fluff", either. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yerttle,
    thank you so much for writing back to me, and goodness, congratulations on the eatulations on the e-5!! I am glad to see how much you love it and sure wish you lots and lots of wonderful moments with it along your photography journey.
    Thanks again for your kind support and words of encouragement I really appreciate it!!

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  23. Hello Robin! You wrote a couple of times in your text: "full metal body" Have you seen how thick the metal "skin" of the Pens really are? It just have a very thin metal skin and under there is the plastic body that holds the parts together. Generaly a full metal body is synonymous with cameras like the E-5 who have complete chassi of metal. To call the Pen cameras for full metal bodies is wrong. Take care! /Robert

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  24. this is amazing!!!

    any idea how much will it hurts ($$$$-wise) for ep3+ 12mm f2 combo?

    any chance u'll be doing ep3-epl3-epm1 shootout?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hello robert,
    Thanks for the alert on the possible mistake I may have made. I really thought and believed that it was a full metal body construction.

    Hello Ryan,
    At the moment, I think the retail price is around RM3199 with the standard kit lens. The 12mm is sold separately I think, not too sure though. Street price would be slightly cheaper.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for the Review Robin,
    I'm totally agree with your important sentence:
    "The best camera you have is the camera that you can bring around at all times."

    I definetely want one istead of my 5D Mark II as M4/3 means a really compact package as everything for the big DSLRs are also big like ND filters, tripods etc.

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  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  28. What a wonderful, thorough review! I'm going to read the first 3 parts. Your pictures are amazing and I'm so excited about what is possible with the E-p3. I'm patiently waiting for it next month as my 40th birthday present. I'm moving up from a point and shoot to more possiblities. I want to learn, I have kids and I do not want to lug around a big DSLR. The grip is a concern. I have big hands for a woman and holding the e-pl1 was like you described. I figure since the e-p3 has a screw and can change out the grip, maybe my husband can carve one for me out of wood if need be. LOL I want this smaller camera with all the cool extra features. The retro style is cool too but that is a bonus, since I want the performance and DSLR features. :) Thanks again... going to read the first three now. Oh and I hope battery life improves but the most I've shot in one day is around 300 pics. Maybe that will change with a camera that is more fun? I can carry an extra battery. I am not planning to be a pro. Maybe in 5 to 10 years when my kids are older. Thanks again! ~Cori from Oregon

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  29. Dear Robin,

    Thank you for the excellent and detailed review! It really is very nice to read and brings me all the info I want. Just stumbled on your blogs and reading some of them made me want to read more. Hope you will continue to share your interest and knowledge. Oh man, I want that combo ep3-75-300 ;)

    Many thanks, regards Perry

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hello Yalcin,
    Thanks for agreeing with that atatement !!
    Truly compactness is very important, an overlooked factor.

    Hello Cori,
    Thanks so much for such kind comments. I was merely sharing my thoughts and what I feel when I shoot with the E-P3.
    Having the E-P3 for your birthday? Wow, that is probably the best present !!
    I am sure it is a great step up from compact point and shoot camera, and yes, you get full controls like a DSLR, no less. In fact, it outperforms DSLR in some aspects, and I shall let you discover that on your own !!
    Make sure you take loads and loads of photographs with your coming PEN!!


    Hello Perry,
    Thanks so much for your encouraging remarks. It was my pleasure to share about my findings during my brief encounter with the E-P3. I am glad many find it useful.
    Do read on, I have a lot going on in my mind that I usually would pour out onto this blog !!

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  31. could you test the E-P3 for long exposures. would like to see how noisy it is at it's native ISO 200 when the sensor is exposed long.

    raphael Ferraris

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  32. hello raphael,
    I do not own the ep3, it was loaned to be 2 weeks before the worldwide press release on 30 june. I have returned the ep3 to olympus malaysia about a month ago.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hey Robin, what tele camera did you use at the zoo? are they micro four-third or you put adapater to another lens? I plan to buy an e-p3.. and I have a few canon lens.. so, if you use adapter , maybe you can tell me how hard to use manual focus in an e-p3 :). Thank you !

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  34. Robin

    I see.

    to add to Matthews post. how fast does the E-P3 focus with Zuiko lenses?

    Raphael

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  35. Hello Matthew,
    It was the 76-300mm and 40-150mm, both dedicated micro 4/3 lenses. The lenses used are stated at the bottom of each image.
    I did not use manual focus, so I cannot comment on that. Sorry.

    hello raphael,
    I only tried two lenses that I have, the 4/3 DSLR lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2 macro, both performed poorly and slowly on E-P3 with the mount adapter. I have seen a video of someone using 12-60mm on the E-P3 and it was acceptably fast.

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  36. Robin,

    after having read a loooot of reviews and before all the buzz is starting when the FAST PEN gets available, I again would like to say „thank you“

    To me, your pictures were by far the most inspiring and wonderful „review“ - three real piece of art !

    I certainly will come back here now and then to enjoy your pix – whatever camera you've made 'em with


    Best
    Michael

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  37. Hello Micheal,
    You are being too kind !! Thanks for your flattering remarks, I shared what I can with everyone.

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  38. Thank you so much Robin, your review is impressive. It has important information which everyone want to know about the E-P3. You make me want to replace the E-P2 in my hand with the E-P3 suddenly. I will looking forward to the day that E-P3 come to my country, Thailand. (^___^)

    Gift

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  39. Thank you Robin. Nice review.
    I got the E-P1 and I am very happy with it.

    Cheah

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  40. Thank you so much for such a nice review of a remarkable little camera packed with so much tech in such a small body. I have been a loyal fan of PEN series since Ep1 to Ep2, and moved on to Epl2 many months back.

    I enjoyed all of them and to me, ep2 has been my favourite. I am now looking forward to Ep3, once I have saved enough.

    Your review has just more than encouraged me to move on. For what Olympus has achieved in the last 2 years, we are in for a great ride, I am sure!

    Many thanks,
    Bob

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  41. thanks alot for your wonderful review. Longtime I have not read such a detailed review stressing practical camera and lense points and not loosing to much time on theoretical issues!
    One question though came up: did you use Auto-ISO when taking your pictures or did you set ISO manually?
    thanks for your reply!
    HP

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  42. Hello bobds78,
    I am sure you have enjoyed your PEN very much !! The E-P3 is much more, and yes, it is a great ride we are in. It was my pleasure doing this review, and I am glad you find it useful.

    Hello HP,
    Thanks for your kind words. I strongly believe photography is all about shooting, and the hands on experience in real life practical situations is very important. I am glad you find this review approach relevant.
    I adjust my ISO settings manually at all times, shooting mostly with Aperture Priority mode.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I'm surprised by the shorter battery life of the E-P3.

    I have the E-P1 and sometimes I don't need to recharge the battery for days, even after lots of shooting and reviewing. I never shoot without IS or the viewfinder.

    Are you able to say how the battery compares to the E-P1?

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hello Mick,
    I am a heavy shooter, I can produce 200-300 images in one morning full on shooting session. Hence I can kill the battery really fast. It all comes down to your usage.
    I do not have E-P1 to compare with, sorry. The closest I have is E-PL1, and they eats up the battery at about the same rate.

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  45. Robin,

    Thank you for providing your feedback on your use of the E-P3. I still have my OM1 and OM3 film based cameras.

    Howeve, as a result of reading your article, I bought the E-P3 9 (the all silver model) and the 4/3 to m4/3 adapter.

    I intend to team it up with my Leica D Varion-Elmarit 14-50mm/f2.8-3.5, which normally sits on my Leica Digilux 3; although, that 12mm/f2 does look 'juicy'.
    Regards
    Mr. 'I've returned to Olympus' :)

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  46. Hey "mr i've returned to Olympus"
    Thanks for your compliments, and WELCOME back !! Olympus misses you very much !!
    I am sure you will find that your leica lens would shine on E-P3 !!

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  47. Hi Robin, I really enjoyed the review, thanks a lot. A great seller for me is the quality JPEGs. As you say, Oly is known for them. The photos you used are really impressive, really enjoyed the composition of a lot of them. The square format really does work well for some dynamic shots

    ReplyDelete
  48. Hello Simon,
    Thanks for the kind words !! Great JPEG is one of Olympus' greatest strengths, and the E-P3 continued having this tradition.
    Thanks for your compliments in my photos !! Not many people like square crops, but I do find them to work well for certain situations.

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  49. Robin,

    i've been going back and forth for about 2 weeks eversince the e-p3 came out to the market. But before it i've been considering to upgrade to GH2. I wonder what an expert like you would suggest me which one is the better.. I really could use some of your idea here..
    thanks before

    ardian

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  50. Hi Robin,

    I've enjoyed your reviews of the E-P3 very much - and they have contributed to me buying one. After reading a lot of reviews on other websites that involved technical/studio comparisons, it is refreshing to come across a reviewer who shoots in the real world.

    By the way, I also live in Malaysia - in Lumut. I bought my E-P3 in Penang.

    Thanks once again,
    Scott

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  51. Hi Robin,
    I'm really glad I found your website, cuz your review of the EP3 is the best I've read, and I've gone through quite a few, including reviews by dpreview, Steve Huff, etc. Your honesty, clarity and love for photography and Olympus cameras really shine through! I've used Nikon cameras for quite a while, but always wanted something lighter and smaller, but with great IQ. I've recently discovered Olympus, and am intrigued by the EP3! After reading your review, and looking at your wonderful photos, I've decided to buy one. Thank you so much for your inspiring thoughts and comments!
    Best wishes,
    Be Lee

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  52. After 3 compact digicam (2 x Canon and a Olympus Tough) I had to say that i love the shots even a mediocre Tough can capture:) So last night I scour all the reviews I can find and made an online purchase for a E-P3. Today, I stumbled upon your article and I must say this must be the most sound purchase I have made in years (besides my wonderful Honda FIt).
    I simply love your review and now will be waiting fervently in front of my home gate for the FedEx guy to arrive with my beautiful Pen P3. Thanks Robin, you just made me not want to cry over my over-used plastic :P

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  53. Ummm... you do understand why the E-P3 exists, Robin, don't you? It exists to give enthusiasts (or even Pros in some cases) high image-quality and performance in a discreet, quasi-pocketable package.

    That means a few sacrifices in other areas of performance, but that's so that you don't have to be the "camera guy" walking around with a massive DSLR and telephoto glass. Remember the original E-P1 commercials with Kevin Spacey?

    All of your criticisms stem from comparing it to a DSLR and show that you don't understand the PEN = "I need more battery life, I need a bigger grip, etc."

    It is NOT a DSLR, buddy. If you need a DSLR and are okay with being the "camera guy," then don't get a PEN.

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  54. Thank you Robin for taking all this time and this personnal involvement to share us your Olympus E-P3 first-hand experience.
    In fact I was looking since the event of the digital era a digital equivalent of the old Leica M . After having experimented the Lumix LX5 during a recent trip in Europe I have got the "revelation" to go ahead with the M4/3 Olympus Pen option. Your extensive review has confirmed my intention. And I must add that your pictures have convinced me more!
    Two weeks ago Santa Claus has delivered me an E-P3 with some lens and it is a total success. I am now a Olympus Pen fan.
    Thank you again to help renewing an old passion for photography,
    Daniel M from Montreal, CDN

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  55. Hi Robin thanks for the in depth review! It sure helps to alleviate some of our doubts and concerns about the EP3 and the new 45mm lens!
    Looking forward to more reviews on your blog!

    Michael Lim

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  56. Hi Robin,
    I just want to add to your excellent review of the E-P3 that the autofocus performance is improving notably by using faster lenses such as the 12mm f/2.0 or the 45mm f/1.8. I really appreciate the combination of the E-P3 & the 12mm for street photography and for low-light situations. The 12mm is a fantastic lens. Soon I will be able to try the 45mm f/1.8 as soon I will have received it.
    Thank you again for your nice review.
    Daniel M from Montreal, CDN

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  57. Thanks everyone for such overwhelming positive response !!

    I am sure you all have owned or at least tried out the E-P3 by now, and I am very glad to hear that you all love it very much.

    Now go out and make more beautiful photographs with your PEN !!!!

    To Rick Jasper,
    This is a "user-experience" based review. So, during my shooting in real life conditions, I found the mentioned weaknesses. No comparisons was made as I have mentioned. Those shortcomings are of my own opinion, which you may choose to diaagree.
    However, if you somehow fail to notice something very, very obvious, the enire blog review (which has been broken down exhaustively to so many parts) was strongly Pro-E-P3. It is strange for your comment to sound as if I have anything against the E-P3.

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  58. I have been shooting with my E-P3 for about a month now. Indeed it is an excellent camera in terms of image quality. I also agree that the controls are flexible and easy to use. I have to say however that I am disappointed with the camer's image stabilization. At full magnification with my 40-150mm lense the image stabilization was essentially useless. Too bad since so many other aspects of the camera are excellent.

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  59. I agree with you that the stabilization option on the Olympus E-P3 model cannot in any way be compare to other stabilizers like the ones that are working inside the lens.
    At the most I would describe the Olympus feature as a stabilization aid that is better suited for wide and normal focal lenses. At 150mm it is better to be already very stable yourself and use a faster shutter speed to freeze the subject as we use to do with film cameras. I have obtained good results that way.
    Hope you still enjoy doing pictures with the E-P3 as I do.
    Daniel M from Montreal, CDN
    danielmichel2757@yahoo.ca

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  60. I finally got around to read all your reviews of the E-P3. I truly enjoy reading them since you are not measuring every possible parameter of the camera and comparing it to others, but actually go out and take pictures. This is so more meaningful and useful for me. Thank you for your contribution.
    By the way, you are an excellent photographer! You have a real talent of capturing beautiful shots.

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  61. Hey Robin,

    Just wanted to say exellent interview. I have the 12mm 25mm and 45mm and must say that it's a really good second bring anywhere camera!!

    Here are a bunch of pictures taken with those lenses:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/timvanvliet/sets/72157627295087905/

    All metdata is there. :)

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  62. Thank you very much for the in-depth review! I'm a painter, looking for a semi-professional camera which offers me a good dynamic range while still being somewhat portable due to a lot of travelling. What I need is good colors and the best possible amount of information on light areas but preferrably darks too, so I can get good reference pictures. Even though I'm not planning to photograph professionally I guess my demands or on that level. Right now I'm torn between the EP3 and the K5, which would of course serve me with better images, but in the end is bulkier, heavier and I'm afraid I may leave her at home often because of that. Considering the higher price it would be a shame. Your shared experience and the sample images helped me to at least be sure the EP3 wouldn't be a bad choice. Still no decision made but I just want to thank you for your efforts!

    Greetings from Brazil,
    Dario

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  63. Thanks for your excellent 'layman' review. My D90 got stolen recently and am looking for a replacement. You've convinced me to ditch DSLRs...! Kudos again for your superb review.

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  64. I love reading your reviews. They are great. May I make a comment from the point of view of a nerdy English teacher. You use the word "complains" frequently in your writing and you mean "complaints." Just thought I'd point it out. Please forgive me if this comment is out of line. I have great respect for you and your expertise and advice.

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  67. Hi Robin, enjoyed reading the review. I just wanted to ask you if you had any problem when using the PEN in mode M and the bracketing was on. I bought a camera and I had to send it several times for service and it came back that this is how it is built: if you want to use the M mode, disable the bracketing. Does that sound right to you?
    Thanks.

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  68. Hi Robin. Many thanks for the time you spent with the E-P 3, your description of the ins and outs of this camera has been most useful. The set of pictures from the zoo are fabulous and helped me take the decision to move on from my E-PL1 and buy my friends hardly used E-P3 from him. Once again many thanks.

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  69. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

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  70. So after 3 years, with people still buying this nice little camera it's obvious that Olympus must have done something right. However, there's just one thing I have to disagree with Robin - the JPG engine of the E-P3 (and that of the PL3 and PM1 too) was a serious step backwards from the previous '1st generation' PENS. Not necessarily because of the slightly different color rendering but because of the way it dealt with noise. Even with noise reduction turned off it still shows visible traces of noise reduction and even worse much more chroma noise than the older engine. Not just some mild color noise but a very nasty variation of it resulting in red blobs. Even in the small scale pictures here it's fairly obvious, for example in the chimpanze. And even worse, once you have seen it, you will start noticing it everywhere... granted its easy to remove in RAW, but for a camera that is praised for its excellent OOC JPG quality it is somewhat of a disappointment....

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