Olympus E-P3 First Look

Olympus announced three new additions to its PEN line of compact digital cameras, which is now in its 5th generation. They have finally released the successor to the E-P2, with the new flagship E-P3 model. This unit builds off the E-P2 and E-PL2 predecessors, with various improvements that will make even professional photogs raise a brow. While the E-P3 still encompasses a 12.3-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, Olympus claims this is a newly developed sensor configuration, which includes their all new TruePic VI processing engine. This combination is claimed to offer superior low-light and high ISO performance, with sensitivity settings up to ISO 12,800.

Olympus has made some very bold statements about their new Autofocus capabilities that are being featured in these three new PEN cameras. They boast that their FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) Autofocus Tracking System delivers the "World's Fastest AF Speed", thanks to the new FAST technology and 35 focus points spread across the image sensor. This new setup is said to rival the AF speed of professional level dSLRs; like their own E-5 for example.

On top of an all new AF system, the E-P3 offers various other upgrades that are sure to make other EVIL camera owners jealous. One of which is the camera's new 3.0-inch OLED, touchsceen display. This unit boasts 460k dots of resolution, along with touch AF and touch capture capabilities; you can also disable the touchscreen at any time. The menu system has also seen a much needed revision, offering a more pleasing experience over the menus of old.

Like first introduced on the E-PL2, the E-P3 offers Art filter "stacking". On top of this, the E-P3 incorporates all ten Art filters, along with a new Art Bracketing feature when in P/A/S/M modes. Joining the World in the plunge into 3D, Olympus has added the ability for all of the new PEN cameras to shoot in 3D Photo Mode. This means the camera can automatically create 3D images right in the camera. To make this happen, users will select 3D Photo Mode, release the shutter, then pan the camera to line up the second shot with a handy onscreen helper so you can ensure the second image is right on the money.

We were fortunate enough to get our hands on a full production E-P3 a week or so prior to this announcement. Our initial thoughts are that the E-P3 is one of the best Digital PENs to date, however stay tuned in the coming weeks as we take our time to fully evaluate this camera. In the mean time, check out the pages we have published; especially the unedited Sample Photos.
Olympus PEN E-P3 Features Include:

  • Three body color choices: Silver, Black and White
  • Removable Grip
  • 12.3-Megapixel Live MOS image sensor
  • Micro Four-Thirds lens mount system
  • TruePic VI Image Processing Engine
  • FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) Autofocus System
  • Olympus System Supersonic Wave Filter Dust Reduction System
  • iAuto (intelligent), Program AE, Aperture/Shutter Priority, Full Manual, and Custom exposure control
  • In-Camera Art Filters (applicable to both still and HD video)
  • Art Filter Bracketing
  • Customizable Aspect Ratios
  • In-camera image editing options
  • 3.0 inch (460K) OLED Touchscreen display
  • 1080/60i AVCHD or AVI with Dolby Digital Sound Recording
  • 3D Photo Mode (saved as a .MPO file)
  • Auto ISO sensitivity from 200 - 12800
  • SDHC/SDXC (UHS-1 complaint) card slot
  • Newly designed Graphical User Interface
  • 2 custom buttons for assignment of favorite functions
  • Compatible with MSC (Movie & Still Compatibility) lenses
  • Li-ion battery pack (up to 330 photos)

The E-P3 will initially come in two fit configurations, which will begin to ship August, 2011. Both lenses are part of Olympus' new MSC (Movie & Still Compatibility) line; their intent to to provide "near-silent operation, enabling you to shoot HD movies in stereo with amazing clarity.":
  • Olympus PEN E-P3 Body with MSC M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm II R f3.5/5.6 Zoom lens: $899.99 US
  • Olympus PEN E-P3 Body with MSC M. Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f2.8 Prime Lens: $899.99 US

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