Noise, resolution and sensitivity

Like every digital Olympus Pen camera, the E-PL3 features a 12.3-million-pixel Live MOS sensor. Some may consider this a sticking point when compared to some Panasonic Lumix G models, which offer an approximately 16-million-pixel sensor. In reality, only those who regularly view pictures larger than around A3 in size will appreciate the difference.

In raw mode, resolved detail remains at 22 on our charts all the way up to ISO 1600. It only really tails off at ISO 12,800, which, along with ISO 3200 and 6400, is classed as an extended setting. This maximum level of resolved detail is fairly standard for a camera of this level, although the performance at higher sensitivities is good.

Image: The E-PL3 performs well at high ISO sensitivities, and still resolves impressive detail at ISO 1600

Olympus claims that the camera’s new engine combines with the sensor to improve noise performance, when compared to previous Pen models. There are slight signs of luminance noise at ISO 400 and these become particularly noticeable at ISO 1600 and upwards, while chroma noise creeps in at the highest ISO 12,800 setting.

Image resolution chart:  These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the kit lens set to 50mm (75mm equivalent). We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.

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