Features & Controls
The E-P3 uses the Olympus/Panasonic Micro Four Thirds (mFT) lens mount, which is a mirror-less system that has allowed both manufacturers to reduce the distance between the mount and the image sensor from 40 mm (standard Four Thirds System) to approximately 20 mm. This allows for a much smaller camera bodies as well as lenses.
Employed on the E-P3 is a newly designed 12.3-megapixel LIVE MOS image sensor, along with the all new TruePic VI image processor. These two units combined allow the E-P3 to offer increased sensitivity settings (up to ISO 12,800), while still maintaining usable noise levels. This new sensor also adds to the E-P3's speed, along with the ability to record full 1080i HD video.
The E-P3 still offers Olympus' effective Supersonic
Wave Filter Dust Reduction System, as seen on all of their Digital PEN models. This system was designed
to help prevent dust from adhering to the image sensor by using ultra-sonic
vibrations. This helps filter and repel dust and other particles, that
are then trapped on an adhesive absorber at the bottom of the
filter so it doesn't return to the sensor later on.
One of Olympus' most profound claims with the E-P3 release is their new FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) AF technology. This allows the E-P3 to offer the "World's Fastest AF", with a shutter response claims of just 60 milliseconds. They boast that the E-P3 is faster then even professional level dSLRs; in AF speed, not burst capabilities. This is a 35-point contrast detection AF system, with the AF points spread across the entire image sensor. This enables increased focus accuracy on smaller subjects.
On top right hand side of the camera is the Mode Dial with positions for iAuto (Intelligent Auto), Program, Aperture priority, Shutter speed priority, Manual, Movie, SCN, and ART modes. To the right is the Shutter release, new Fn2 button and the On/Off button.
Unlike past models, the E-P3's grip is removable. This allows you to fit the camera to your liking, so you can run it with or without the included grip. Olympus also offers an optional MCG-2 enlarged grip for those of us with large hands.
The E-P3 is bundled with an all new M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 II R optical zoom lens, which is yet another updated version of the existing 14-42mm offerings. This is the third generation of this lens since the debut of the E-P1.
While offering almost identical specifications to the previous version, this model is still "Movie and Still Compatible" (MSC), however they have also added a decorative "cover up" ring to the bayonet mount on the end of the lens. This covers the bayonet mount when not is use, however you still have all of the benefits of the bayonet ring system for conversion lenses and other accessories. Currently, three conversion lenses are available: Wide-angle converter, Macro converter, and Fish-eye converter.
The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R (35mm equivalent focal length:
28-84mm) Micro 4/3 lens provides 3x zoom performance. To maximize the
mobility this lens features a retractable parking mechanism and the
result is a total length of just approx. 55mm. Compared to the standard 4/3
ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 this lens is only 65% of the volume
and 80% of its weight.
Alongside the E-P3 announcement, Olympus released their new M. Zuiko Digital ED 12m f/2.0 lens. This high-speed, 24mm equivalent focal length lens offers an extremely wide-angle lens field of view, which is for shooting everything from dramatic landscapes in low-light conditions to hard-to-get, spontaneous street shots. It has a beautiful full-metal body and a "Snap Focus Ring". This allows you to quickly switch to manual focus mode, with a handy distance indicator for precise focus.
Here we can see the all new M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 lens. With a 90mm equivalent field of view, this prime lens was designed with portraits in mind. With a fast F/1.8 aperture, you can obtain beautiful shallow depth of field, giving images pleasing bokeh effects. Like all of Olympus' new m43 lenses, this unit also features their MSC mechanism, which provides silent focus when tracking subjects in movie mode.
The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:2.8 Pancake (35mm equivalent focal length: 34mm) lens is even smaller than the already compact pancake lens for standard 4/3 bodies. This Micro 4/3 lens boasts a mere 22mm in length and 71g in weight. The circular aperture diaphragm with 5 blades enables natural and smooth defocusing. This wide-angle pancake lens with its ultra compact design is ideal for daily snapshots and as travel companion.
To use some of your existing 4/3 system lenses, Olympus does offer the
MMF-1 4/3 mount adapter. This lens adapter makes it possible to mount
any existing Four Thirds lens on a Micro Four Thirds digital camera. AF
shooting using Live View is possible with lenses featuring contrast AF
compatibility. When a contrast AF incompatible lens is used, the AF
assist function engages.
Olympus also offers the MMF-2 UM lens adapter, which permits the use of Olympus OM lenses to be used on a Micro Four Thirds digital camera.
- Autofocus(AF) is not available.
- Stop-down metering is used.
- Although it is possible to use A (aperture priority AE) mode in auto exposure, the aperture display is not available.
- In P (Program AE) or S (Shutter speed - priority AE) mode, the shutter releases, but the auto exposure does not work.
- The distance scale on the OM system lens may not indicate the actual distance. Always use the viewfinder for focusing.
Built-in Flash Unit
The E-P3 is the first E-Px series model to offer a built-in, pop-up flash unit. Prior to this new camera, only the E-PLx models offered this functionality. This manual pop-up flash unit tucks away into a specially designed "pocket" on the top, which the designer insisted would not interfere with the wonderfully designed lines on the front of the camera. So, when looking directly at the front of the camera you can not see the flash that a flash is hiding underneath. This unit offers a guide number of 10 (m) at ISO 200, and synchronized shutter speeds up to 1/180 sec. or less.
Here you can see the built-in flash from behind, along with the flash release button located underneath of the flash unit. When pressed, the flash springs out from its "pocket".
Hot Shoe for External Units
The E-P3 uses the same hot shoe and AP2 accessory port found on the E-PL2. This allows you to use various external accessories, including the new FL-300R pop-up flash unit.
The following accessories are compatible with the AP2 port: Olympus FL-14, FL-20, FL-36, FL-50, FL-36R or FL-50R external flash units (full TTL flash control(, VF-2 EVF, EMA-1 microphone input jack, MAL-1 macro spotlight, and the PP-1 Pen Pal Bluetooth unit.
Here is a view of the PP-1 PENPAL described in the paragraph above, mounted in the E-PL2. The PP-1 was built for a faster way to transfer images to any bluetooth compatible smart phone. When a photo is taken the PP-1 will send the image directly to a selected phone where it will be available to upload to any social network, such as Facebook or Twitter.
Here you can see the EMA-1 external microphone adapter. For those who want to capture enhanced audio, the EMA-1 external microphone connector is a great accessory. The connector will accept the optional Olympus ME-51S stereo microphone or any microphone of their choice.
The all new FL-300R compact flash unit was designed specifically for use with Olympus' Digital PEN series of cameras. On top of offering increased flash power/coverage over the built-in flash, this unit boasts bounce and wireless remote capabilities. When folded all the way forward, the flash will shut off to conserve battery power.
While designed specifically for use with their Digital PEN cameras, through our testing we found that the super compact FL-14 external flash unit is also compatible with other E-series models, like the E-620. With an equivalent GN (Guide Number) of 14 at ISO 100 (or 20 at ISO 200), you can accomplish pleasing flash shooting without having to carry around a bulky external unit.
The FL-14 also features an energy circuit that improves recharge rates (approx. 5 sec. recycle time) and enables the flash to operate on just two AAA batteries. In addition, the FL-14 incorporates these features:
- Compact and stylish silver metal exterior
- Guide Number 20 at ISO 200
- 28mm equivalent coverage
- AAA batteries x2 provide about 80 shots at full power
- Approximately 5 second recycle time
- 3 modes: TTL-AUTO, AUTO, Manual
Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.