While the E-PL3 uses the same 2.3 million pixels as its predecessors, the sensor is in fact a refined version, claimed to have improved noise performance. As a result, the sensitivity range is extended to ISO 200-12,800. Images are processed using the latest TruePic VI engine, with a JPEG file taking 1sec, a raw file 1.5secs and raw+JPEG combined capture 2secs. The camera can still be used while the images are being processed.
Included among this new model’s refinements is an improved frame rate of up to 5.5 frames per second, for up to eight frames in raw+JPEG and 12 frames in JPEG. Furthermore, focusing is quicker this time around, and the system makes use of full-time continuous AF for near-instant AF in good light. The camera has 35-point AF, which marks a considerable upgrade from the 11-point system found on the previous generation of cameras.
One advantage the Olympus Pen series has over its competition is its capability. With no built-in unit, the wireless system must be controlled using the included external flash or any of the compatible FL-36R, FL-50R or new FL-300R flashguns. The included flash has a guide number of 7m @ ISO 100, which is similar to most built-in flashes and useful for only close-range subjects.
Most cameras these days are flooded with filter effects. The Art Filters from Olympus now offer greater manual control for the user to combine filters and add extra effects such as a border, and to create some interesting and genuinely pleasing results that even hardened photographers should appreciate. Dramatic tone is great for injecting a little punch into scenes with flat light. There is also a new 3D filter mode present, which works by taking two consecutive pictures.
The compact system camera is maturing into an ever-more appealing system as new lenses and accessories are developed. At the time of the E-PL3’s release, Olympus also announced 45mm f/1.8 and 12mm f/2 lenses. The latter is yet another good, sharp pancake optic, perfectly complementing the camera’s compact size. In-camera stabilisation works via sensor shift, so the lenses do not need to include this function.