Olympus PEN E-PL3 - The LITE Sibling

Launch SRP: S$998

Introduction, Design & Handling

Shooting Lite

The E-PL series has always been positioned as the more affordable and simplified alternatives to their flagship E-P cameras. Add in some slight shuffling and the latest E-PL3 camera (now dubbed the PEN Lite) now stands in between its higher-end cousin (E-P3) and a simpler, smaller series, the E-PM1 or otherwise known as PEN Mini. The mid-range E-PL3, replacing the half-year old E-PL2, still offers a combination of functionality and performance traits within a smaller package.

Design & Handling

Off the bat, the E-PL3 takes a slight detour from its predecessor’s retro look; instead it takes on the understated and minimalist design that’s reminiscent of the Olympus XZ-1. The overall result is classy, sleek and pleasing to the eye. Like the XZ-1, the E-PL3’s front is flat and made out of lacquered metal. To streamline the size and thickness of the camera, there’s no hand grip or built-in flash on the camera. Instead, for the latter, you get a clip-on unit that utilizes both the hot shoe and accessory port. The lack of a hand grip keeps the camera small – and in some cases, too small and flat in fact for comfortable handling while shooting.

The selling point for the E-PL3 is noticeably its sturdily-built 3.0-inch tilt screen, a handy addition for a EVF-less camera; take note though, it is not a touchscreen like the one on the E-P3. Overall, the E-PL3 is a solidly-constructed looker with accessible and well-made controls that are further enhanced by a straightforward user interface. There might be a steep learning curve for those who have never encountered an Olympus camera in their lives, but the interface is generally easy to use once you get the hang of it.

The Good
Sleek and slim design
Fast and accurate AF system
Vivid color production
Tiltable LCD screen
The Bad
Image noise starts to show above ISO800
No built-in flash (but add-on is provided)
No hand grip