It's safe to say that the E-P3 is the best E-P yet. It retains its good looks, and comes with an AF system that's faster and more dependable than before. The physical controls haven't been compromised, the touch-screen adds another optional layer of control, and with more than double the pixels the OLED display is stunning. It finally comes with a built-in flash; you have immediate access to AF points and important controls via a convenient overlay menu.
As you can tell, there's so much we love about this camera that the Micro Four Thirds ISO ceiling of ISO1600 hits hard. It's not that ISO1600 is horrible per se, it just could have been better; especially seeing how much better the rest of the camera has been made. We wish that Olympus could have made ISO1600 cleaner than it is – but we'd also say that image noise acceptance is as subjective as color saturation. If shooting at higher ISO isn't as important to you, or you find that ISO1600 on the E-P3 is perfectly fine, then you'll find the E-P3 one of the best mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras ever yet made, not to mention it's still one of the most beautifully-designed cameras you can find today.
Olympus PEN vs. Panasonic GF
The PEN E-P3 also provides an interesting counterpoint to its closest counterpart in the Micro Four Thirds world; the Panasonic GF2 and GF3 cameras. The GF1 was similar in idea and design to the E-P3, with its physical controls the GF1 was an ideal bridge camera for enthusiasts and beginners alike. But the GF2 took away the physical mode dial, and the GF3 has slimmed down and simplified so considerably that the GF2 & 3 veer much more towards the beginning user who's looking for a compact camera upgrade, rather than an enthusiast looking for a DSLR downgrade.
The E-P3 on the other hand, maintains its focus on the enthusiast, while leaving its smaller brothers the PEN Lite and Mini for the beginning interchangeable-lens user. While Panasonic has said that they plan to release a GF camera which stays true to the GF1 roots within the year, the final product remains to be seen.
In the meantime, the E-P3 represents the best, compact EVF-less Micro Four Thirds camera for the enthusiast who wants all controls on hand.