Olympus Pen E-P3 at a glance:

  • 12.3-million-pixel, Live MOS sensor
  • TruePic VI processor
  • Micro four thirds mount
  • Sensor-shift stabilisation
  • 3in, 610,000-dot, OLED touchscreen
  • 324-zone, multi-pattern, TTL metering
  • 1080i HD video capture
  • Street price around £799 (with 14-42mm lens)

The Olympus Pen series of compact system cameras (CSCs) brought a classic feel to the market and attracted a more fashion-conscious user to this type of camera. The latest incarnation sees the range expanded to three models, headed by the flagship E-P3.

In looks the Olympus Pen E-P3 isn’t a huge departure from the original E-P1, but in terms of features it is a huge step forward, even from the E-P2 model that was launched just over 18 months ago. Although the sensor resolution remains unchanged, the E-P3’s new processor allows for faster operation and focusing. The focusing has been improved to such an extent that Olympus claims it is the fastest of any interchangeable-lens camera. This claim is based on its full-time AF system, which is designed to adjust the focus constantly rather than waiting for you to half-press the shutter – so even if it is as fast as they claim, it is not based on the standing start you might expect.

For the first time in any Pen model the display is a touchscreen, allowing touch focus, touch shutter and some adjustment control directly on the screen. Another first for the E-P3 is a built-in flash. While Olympus E-PL models had this, previous E-P cameras featured a hotshoe addition only. The new range also sees the selection of art filters expanded to include secondary options and the ability to maintain exposure control with some settings.

So the E-P3 certainly looks to be the most complete and most impressive Pen model to date, but with the competition having also progressed rapidly over the past year, expectations are higher than ever.

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