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Hands on: New Olympus PEN models – E-P3, E-PL3 and E-PM1

These three brand-new PEN cameras should provide something for everyone



The PEN Lite E-PL3 is more a variant of the E-P3 than simple a cut-down model. It loses the touchscreen – a pity as compact camera users wanting to upgrade to an interchangeable lens model would be quite at home with such an input device; it also steps down from OLED to LCD. ON the plus side, you get a tilting screen, so you can shoot picture while holding the E-PL3 above or below you.

Olympus PEN E-PL3
The E-PL3, with its tilting LCD, has its own merits – rather than simply being a cut-down E-P3

It’s only a small step-down in terms of size and weight on paper: the E-P3 is 122x69x34mm and 321g, while the E-PL3 is 110x64x37mm and 265g. But in the hand the difference is more noticeable, and the E-PL3 certainly feels less imposing a device to point at people. In the end your choice of lens will be more telling than your choice of body when it comes to final size and weight.

As with previous Lite models, you lose controls on the rear – such as the E-P3’s dial and programmable function buttons. You can see the differences in the picture below.

Olympus PEN E-P3 and E-PL3
The E-P3 and E-PL3 side-by-side, click on this image to enlarge it

We had a quick play with the Mini E-PM1 mock-up. Again it’s not a lot smaller than the model above, in case the E-PL3. Once again it has a reduced number of controls, with only a couple of buttons and a single circular dial remaining.

The E-PM1 looks swish, but may sacrifice too many controls to interest enthusiasts

All three models have the same accessory shoe, and the E-PL3 and E-PM1 will both come with a small clip-on flash, to offset their lack of a built-in one. We appreciate this essential extra being bundled with the camera, but again feel that those coming from a compact camera may have liked this built-in. Still it keeps the overall size down, and means you can switch it out for a more capable flash unit without having to carry both.

Turn to page 3 for image samples and video …

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