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New, Mightier PEN Range From Olympus

By on July 8, 2011

Olympus has revealed three MFT cameras- E-P3, Lite E-PL3 and Mini E-PM3 in its new PEN range. We explore the possibilities with these new devices.

The advent of Micro Four-Third systems (or MFTs) in the market is blurring the line between simple cameras and Digital SLRs. MFT systems are designed for digital cameras with mirror less interchangeable lens. With MFTs, you can have the flexibility and compactness with an impressive professional grade image quality as in a Digital SLR. Olympus was the first one to launch a device in this category, called Olympus PEN E-P1, and the market responded with good words for it.

Since then, Panasonic and Olympus have been a leader in MFT segment, with other companies like Samsung and Sony as trying to compete.

Olympus has now launched its completely new MFT range, with its PEN series. It includes PEN E-P3 as a top-range model, along with PEN E-PL3 in the mid-range segment. Furthermore, the company is launching its all-new lineup of PEN Mini, and E-PM1 has been showcased from this range. Here we are going to tell you about what to expect from this new offering.

1. Olympus PEN E-P3

The E-P3 is the top-end model to be offered by Olympus. There is not much innovation as far as the design of this camera is considered, as it looks quite similar to its predecessor- the Olympus E-P2. The camera is 122x69x34mm, with a weight of 321g. However, the dial for mode selection has been raised and moved to the right, for easier control with thumbs.

This displacement has given place to a flash on the left hand side, which is a pop-up one and placed behind a hatch, so that it doesn’t hamper with the curves. Another addition is a video mode button at the top panel to quickly access video mode. Rest of the design and buttons looks the same like E-P2. A removable grip handle has also been provided, to avoid accidental falls.

A 3-inches OLED display screen has been provided at the back to view all photos and videos. The screen shows a high quality, stunning images at good viewing angles, far better than any LCD display. The screen has been stretched in its width, giving it a nicer aspect ratio for videos. However, the now-wider screen is not quite good to view photographs in a 4:3 size.

Another addition in this display is touch input facility. Yes, this is a touch screen. However, the touch option comes as an option, and you may perform all the functionalities with buttons only, if you find a touchscreen cumbersome to use. Moreover, the UI remains unchanged with some color reshuffles. A better UI, optimized for touchscreen would’ve been good here.

2. Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3

The ‘L’ in the PL3 stands for ‘Lite’. The E-PL3 is a lite or a mid-range version of the E-P3. Being a cheaper one also means it loses some of the features like an OLED Touchscreen. The display in this camera is a simple LCD with no touch input methods.

However, it adds an impressive feature, a screen which can be tilted to get better views even when you are shooting something with lens pointed upwards or downwards. In terms of size, the camera is not much smaller than its big counterpart.

Furthermore, the lite version loses some programmable function buttons at the rear end. However, this camera is more compact and with a powerful lens, it doesn’t fall much short of the E-P3.

3. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM3

As we promised to tell you about three cameras in the beginning, here is the third version. It comes from an entirely new range, the PEN Mini from Olympus. ‘M’ in PM3 stands for ‘Mini’. However, do not consider it a miniature version. This camera is not much smaller than the E-P3 and E-PL3. The real miniaturization has been done with controls. By the tag of ‘Mini’, you lose some valuable controls, and this camera remains with a dial and a few buttons.

As this comes from a new range, not much information has been revealed for E-PM3 to keep rivals at a distance. The design of this camera looks elegant. We expect this camera to come with a non-tilt able LCD screen.

Other features:

As all the three devices come from the same basic genre, they all share similar essential core features. They are MFT cameras, featuring interchangeable lens. E-P3 has a built-in pop-up flash, while Lite and Mini come with a clip-on flash, which makes it easier to switch between good flash units.

A 12.3MP sensor and TruePic VI image processing engine run these cameras to capture quality images. This hardware combo is pretty impressive with colors and sharpness of the images. In addition, the Autofocus speed has been improved to faster one. This was one of the downfalls of earlier PEN devices, and Olympus has taken concerns for this in these devices.

An exciting new capability available with these devices is the support to shoot full HD mode videos in AVCHD, which records videos as 1080i with a maximum of 60 frames per second. We expect a better microphone as well. Olympus has also complemented this range with cool and sporty leather straps, casings and bags.
Pricing and release dates:

Again, Olympus has not revealed much regarding the release dates and price range of these devices. The ongoing rumor says that E-P3 will be available for £800 along with lens. However, we expect prices to be more competitive. The anticipated launch date is early August. No information is available regarding the price of E-PL3 and E-PM3. Only rumors are there.


Olympus has certainly rectified its previous mistakes and is coming up with better cameras in the form of this new PEN range. Nevertheless, price will be a key point in deciding the fate of these cameras in the market. It will only be a matter of time to see how market and rivals respond to them. Right now, we are finding these cameras quite impressive, and you can look forward to them.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E6WPYKS5MMSE53VLYKCGT7YB4I sandeep


  • http://www.facebook.com/rish.ritesh Ritesh Jain

    @yahoo-E6WPYKS5MMSE53VLYKCGT7YB4I:disqus  Sandeep- I think its going to launch soon! I am waiting for an MFT too!