Review: Unveiling of Olympus E-PL3 and the E-P3


ed9119

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#1
I got a call from Simon on Friday afternoon to pick me up ..... most probably for one of our regular kopi sessions. In his car, he said simply "We're going to Olympus's office..."

I recall vaguely some talk of a new set of Oly cameras being launched a few weeks ago and could not figure out what was going on..... Olympus's star cameras, the XZ-1 and the E-PL2 had just been launched to acclaim barely a couple of months ago .....

At the Olympus boardroom the surprise turned to almost utter shock as 2 new camera bodies and 3 new lenses were placed before us...... an E-P3 , an E-PL3, a 12mm F2.0 prime (!!!) a 40-150 zoom and a 14-42 kit zoom.

Signing off the Non-Disclosure Agreement (meaning NO PUBLIC TALK/DISCUSSION of what we saw and handled). I could have the cameras and lenses for just over 24hrs being the only working prototypes in Singapore. I had to return everything on Saturday night.

The following images will speak for themselves..........
the E-P3 is on the left and the E-PL3 is on the right




The E-PL3 beats the E-P3 with its flip up-down LCD screen ........



The top deck of the E-PL3 is just so ....... sweeeet
The lines are leaner with fewer buttons and no pop up flash


The E-PL3 is smaller and no less sexy
 

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ed9119

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#2
Now the 12mm (24mm equivalent on full frame) ....... it was just drooling build quality with an all-metal body, metal lens mount and a Leica Elmarit like lens hood....

The 12mm f2.0 can switch BETWEEN MANUAL Focussing and AF with a Push-Pull ring to switch between one to the other
The lens hood is a variable ring-tension type attachment ..... turn the screw to open up or close the tension of the ring to clamp onto the lens

below... in Manual Focus mode


below... push/pull the ring up to get into Autofocus mode


And this lens is small small small .... I love its compact size ..... note the All-Metal lens mount


A couple more pics of the 12mm attached to the E-P3
Lovely.... just lovely all-brushed metal finish


 

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ed9119

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#3
The E-P3 grip is now interchangeable as well ............. you can replace it with a grip with a 'higher hump' if you need a firmer grip or if you have bigger fingers

 

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ed9119

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#4
With the grip detached ...... I can see alot of other alternative grips possibly coming along ..... or some of you might want to go gripless with an all metal look

 

ed9119

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#5
a couple more pics of the E-P3 to share

the back of the camera ........... the LCD screen is now a TOUCH SCREEN
you can control functions off a touch of the LCD screen ...... like choosing focusing points.... and even left handed shooting with a touch on which point of the image


with a 80cents lighter to give you an idea of the size of this camera and lens




 

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ed9119

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#6
Because the E-PL3 was not loaded with proper firmware at the time I had it THEN (it should by NOW) most of the images I took on Saturday were with the E-P3 with the 12mm f2.0 attached
 

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ed9119

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#7
I used it for a few hours only on Saturday myself ...... would have loved to have more time to use it .... and I've recently picked up longboarding so in order to kill 2 birds with one stone.... I used my longboard (ha ha how appropriate) to demonstrate the 12mm 's Depth of Field

The minimum ISO for the E-P3 is ISO200 ...... and maximum shutter speed is 1/4000sec which I felt odd because when shooting in bright light or sunny conditions at f2.0 wide open , it will almost always overexpose ............ so Olympus please take heed that if you're introducing a f2.0 or faster lenses, please firmware in lower ISO's

The front mounting nut was the point of focus in this image below


The middle of the axel was the point of focus in this image below


The wheel-well (that white patch of bare wood) was the point of focus in this image below


The front mounting nuts (the small ones) were the point of focus in this image below


Candy floss making machine...... the center thingy was the point of focus in this image below (BTW these candy floss machines should be thrown into the sea..... what they make is so unhealthy LOLZ)

 

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ed9119

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#8
Would like to share some images taken with the 12mm f2.0 + E-P3

MINIMUM focusing distance for the 12mm lens was 20cm (0.2m)

I only had an hour plus for dinner at Chinatown but was lucky with pretty good warm light





I MUST say that M4/3 systems seem to be VERY popular with the tourists..... there were just SO MANY of them toting the 2 major brands....




 

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ed9119

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#9
Most of these images above and below were shot at around f4.5 (cant remember exactly but u can check the EXIF info embedded into these images to find out)

AND they were shot with my LEFT hand ...... the system locks focuses much more quickly vs the previous EP1's and 2's ..... tapping on the LCD screen to simultaneously lock focus, meter and shoot was actually VERY VERY useful because I didnt have to spend the extra 2-3 secs to AEL and recompose before shooting..... although a traditional AEL button could be dedicated to do this.

My RIGHT hand was cradling the body AND lens and fingers were FAR away from the traditional shutter release button

Example: The waiter on the left was standing outside his restauraunt while I just composed and shot without the need to point the lens in his direction to take a meter reading (which I had to do all the time in the past which most of the time alerted the subject even when the lens was pointed in their direction very briefly) With SLR's you could select the focusing and exposure points but that still meant fiddling around with changing the little box before you shot . With this touch-screen ability, it becomes seamless when you can change the focus/exposure point, lock it all up and shoot on-the-fly ... See where my shadow is on the ground and how I am facing when I took this photo ? He probably thought i was shooting at the green dustbin without ONCE pointing the camera in his direction


Eg this guy in red below did not even know he was being photographed ..... I composed with him to one side and used my left finger to simultaneously Lock Exposure, Lock Focus and released the shutter


Similarly here..... storekeeper gave me the 'Cant Make It Photog' look seeing me tapping away with my left finger on the LCD screen (she thought that I was trying to get some settings in order when in fact I was tap-shooting happily away via the LCD panel !!!)


Same thing here ..... the seafood stall worker was just laughing away at me thinking I was fumbling with camera settings when I was actually shooting with my left finger


 

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ed9119

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#10
Dont know about you guys but I like the colours that the lens and camera is putting out ....... a known Olympus forte

Oh another thing I liked is the fill-in capabilities of the little pop up flash and its trap-door type placement .... this was shot in heavy shadows and brought out the details without overkill flash being dumped on the foreground subjects..... vis a vis these 2 images below





Note the 'trap door' style placement of the pop-up flast from this image below
 

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ed9119

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#11
OK I 'feel' that the AF, AF tracking and fps functions on the E-P3 has gotten better

I dont know how to put this down in words but hope the following sequence of images of people walking by will speak for itself

..... again shooting with my LEFT finger..... just hold it down on the touchscreen LCD screen longer to activate multiple consecutive shots



 

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ed9119

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#14
Other comments and feedback:

1. the 2 zooms look great but feel plasticky especially standing next to the 12mm which is just sweet and pleasing to the eye

2. with Manual Focus ability built into the 12mm f2.0 (and the 45mm f1.8 which unfortunately we did not get it in time) Olympus should incorporate an 'In-Focus' indicator either in-body or in-lens (or a beep ?) to confirm focus .... something a firmware upgrade could well include in future

3. the Menu interface navigation is challenging because one has to sometimes 'dive' 2-3 levels deep just to reach functions that a user might want to change ...... this is unnecessary and time-wasting eg when I want to change ISO, exposure mode, WB, dedicate Fn button, get to AFL or AEL etc etc ..... alot of navigation (for me) to get to these functions ...................you get the idea...........and you will have to 'release' and make visible the 'advanced' Menu to see access many other functions ..... this can be frustrating for those who dont like to or have the User Manual at home when outside and need to access functions to change in a pinch (There was a 'My Menu' 1/2/3 function which I suspect allows this but without given a manual on hand I could not figure how to configure it)..... ok when its available online, lets have a look at the user manual to see if 'My Menu' or a 'Super Control Panel' type function will address this once the PDF is uploaded by Olympus
(Like what the E-PL2 has .... see pg87 here http://www.olympusamerica.com/files/oima_cckb/E-PL2_Instruction_Manual_EN.pdf )

4. the E-PL3's up/down LCD is great..... but I wish Oly could have incorporated a FULLY articulating screen which would have been a MORE versatile and, ironically, an easier and simpler engineering design with a single hinge vs installing 2 hinges and hoping that BOTH stay workable. AND why was this not incorporated into the E-P3 as well ?(a fixed LCD screen can only do that much vs an articulating screen)
 

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Oly5050

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#15
Great review.

Is there any chance that you can have a photo comparing the size of the EP3, EPL3, EPM1 with the current XZ1 or EPL1/2 cameras?
 

b00n12

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#16
just a question..

How fast is the fast here?
 

nokkieg

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#17
Ed,

Thanks for the review. Don't think I need any convincing in getting the 12mm f/2.

The removable grip on the E-P3 reminds me of the removable grip on the old Canon A-1 cameras (FD mount). I do wish we can add a thumb grip somehow.
 

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