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3rd UPDATE: EP3 vs EP1 Experience Diary

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by WT21, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Updates to EP1 vs. EP3 diary. I have noted the updates with (UPDATED) and first set of photos are in post 16. I've also added an IQ comparison shot between EP1 and EP2 in post #26.

    I looked at but never tried the EP2 or the EPL series. So, this is strictly from an EP1 users' perspective (that is, some of what I see as cool, you might have already found out with an EP2 or EPL).

    Ergo/handling notes:

    1) It's the same size of the EP1. I had read somewhere that the hotshoe was "flush" with the body and therefore shorter, but I think that must have been referring to the EPL series, because in every dimension I can see, these are the exact same size.

    2) The top and bottom metal plates are a different type of metal than the body plates, but in the EXACT same way as the EP1. There are some differences in the molded lines, and there's a hole for the AF assist light (thankfully!) and some dials are moved, but these cameras look essentially the same. If you love the EP1 (as I do), this is just like getting an EP1, but with different buttons and more toys!

    One minor complaint is the power button has moved, and for me, it's a little too close now to my hand, but I'll get used to it, and the reasons its there are pretty obvious (i.e. to make room for the flash and reconfigured control dial).

    The hot shoe cover feels much more secure than the EP1 cover, which I lost on my EP1 almost immediately. This one feels like it might stay around a least a few months longer.

    Note on the bottom plate: around the tripod mount hole, the bottom plate now has ribs (the EP1 is smooth around the tripod mount), so hopefully this will allow better gripping of my tripod, and reduce the need/desire to over-tighten the tripod. Nice attention to detail Oly!

    The stereo mics have moved from the front of the top plate to the top of the top plate. No idea what this means/will do, but they have moved.

    2b) LCD - The LCD on the EP3 seems bigger, but this is not the case. There is a black bezel around the LCD which eats up a good chunk of space. ADDITIONALLY the LCD is native 3:2 format, whereas the sensor is native 4:3. When in 4:3 mode the EP3 has SIDEBARS and the actual image is SMALLER than the EP1 in 4:3 mode. In 3:2 mode, the EP3's image is LARGER than on the EP1. In either case, of course, the LCD resolution of the EP3 is always higher. Overall, though, the LCD has much less static/noise and gains up more cleanly than the EP1. In direct sunlight, I don't see a huge difference in viewability between the EP3 LCD and the EP1 LCD. Of course, when zooming in, the EP3 LCD gives you better detail because of the higher resolution.


    3) The menus are improved. After two years of use on the EP1, I still struggle sometimes to find the menu option I want. The EP3's menus have friendlier helps, are better labeled, and are reorganized more logically. Also, there are now MORE configuration options (like you can do a rule of thirds grid, or like 3-4 other choices. I think the EP1 only had two choices). There is a pop-up help dialogue that appears if you stay on a menu choice longer than 2 seconds. These can be turned on/off using the "info" button while in the menu view. The descriptions are very helpful, but are annoying once you know your way around, so this toggle is appreciated.

    4) AF Assist Lamp! Oh my! How useful this is going to be! I shot a picture under my desk with the 14-150 at about f/5.6. No chance the EP1 is getting that focus. The EP3 w/assist light rocked back and forth twice, but locked on. A vast improvement.

    5) Pop Up Flash! It's just like a compact camera's flash -- harsh, etc. but for casual shooting, it's going to be great to have this for fill in. I already did some test, where I set the movie record button to AEL, metered off the bright background, and then used the pop up for fill in.

    6) Focusing! What can I say. It's doing what I always wanted the EP1 to do. It focuses very fast. As fast as my 5D? Not sure. I'll have to check, but not too far off in either direction. But, I can now shrink down the green box, so focusing is more precise (I understand this came with the EPL series, but it's nice here).

    As with all contrast AF, the EP3 is still showing a propensity to focus on the highest contrast object, even if that item just behind or just in front of the subject. But if you miss focus, trying again is VERY quick.

    As Ray noted below, you can toggle the touch screen to touch-to-shoot, touch-to-pick focus point, or off. I did a lot of testing with touching to pick the focus point, and that's VERY handy, but I also tested touch-to-shoot (See post #16 below for some screen shot image samples). This was great, because I could compose a layered shot (with subjects in forground/background) and then try with focus on either one, without moving to center focus and then recompose. This is sweeet and will be great for macro, too. I'll try to include some samples below. One complaint: AE doesn't follow your focus point. You should have that option -- maybe if you were using spot AE for instance. Then I think it should use the touch point for AE settings. Oh well. Maybe this could be updated in FW?

    7) The grip! The out-of-the-box grip is much better than the EP1. Honestly, I've not had an issue with the EP1 grip, and I usually have a neck or wrist strap on, but the EP3 is clearly a better grip, and I know they have the "big hands" grip option you can get, too.

    8) Speed to shot! Just added this one -- speed to shot from half press is much better compared to my EP1. This is HUGE advantage for me. I just tried my Panny 20mm on the EP3, and I'm not sure sure the AF is that much faster with this lens, but the lag from focus lock to shot is pretty much gone.

    9) I'm not sure if my EP1 had this, but I just stumbled upon it. If you press the +/- button and then the info button, you have the ability during live view to raise/lower highlights and shadows, and see the effect live on the screen. Just played with this once, so I'll have to see what I think about this, though I'm assuming this is mainly a jpg thing, and I usually shoot RAW. See post #16 below for a screen shot image sample.

    10) Histogram. Boo! My first complaint. I started shooting with the live histogram on my EP1, and exposing to the right. This has dramatically helped me to improve the quality of my pictures. But the EP3 histogram, in my use, is inferior to the EP1. The EP1's histogram is taller and brighter. It's much easier to see, and much easier to see where highlights are clipping. The EP3's histogram is more stretched out and harder to view, being more grey than white. But my biggest complaint is in the EP1, you can hold down the EV key and adjust exposure while viewing the impact right on the histogram. In the EP3, when you go into EV adjust, the histogram disappears! So, you have to press the EV button, adjust, press EV again (to exit EV mode) and then see if you are where you want to be. This is almost a deal breaker for me, but I wonder if Oly could change this in a FW update.

    11) Another complaint. Maybe minor. Not sure: The manual is labeled the "concise version." I don't know what the extensive version is, but this one looks like it was made at the last second. In just a few minutes I found two errors. On page 8, it says the Fn2 key is described on page 89. Flip to page 89 and that's the end of the book with the FCC notices. On page 24, it says turn to page 32 and 33 to learn more about the histogram. Pages 32 and 33 don't have histogram information, but pages 26 and 27 do.

    12) This was probably already known, but I missed it. The EP3 doesn't seem to have ISO 100, and I already hit an issue this morning with that. You lose a whole stop moving from the EP1 to the EP3. Of course, there's also higher ISO available. Why the world is infatuated with shooting in the dark is beyond me (sorry -- just a mini rant)

    UPDATED Capacitive touch screen for family action is fantastic. See https://www.mu-43.com/f42/ep3-rocks-family-action-touch-screen-incredible-14664/#post131941 for more details.
     
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  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    From what I've read you should be able to change it from Focus + Shutter to just Focus, to just Menu (no focus or shutter), or turn the touch function right off. :) Or something like that... of course, I don't have the camera myself to try.
     
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  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    thanks for that... as a happy e-p1/ canon 5d owner your comments and perspective are very useful to me....even if it is to maybe use the credit card to buy the new lenses and wait for further body developments

    K
     
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  4. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Just added a note (point 8) about shutter lag.
     
  5. krysdafur

    krysdafur Mu-43 Regular

    104
    Apr 22, 2011
    SoCal
    How does the black 20mm look on the silver body?

    The silver looks so nice in product pics but since most lenses are black, I ended up ordering the black body.
     
  6. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    It looks the same on an EP1 body, which I rather liked, personally. Here's a shot of the EP1 linked from cameralabs.com. If I have time, I'll try to replace that with an actual EP3 shot, but the fronts of the EP1 and EP3 are nearly identical.

    PanaGF1_EP1_20mm.

    Here's a bit from the phoblographer re: Panny lenses on the EP3 http://www.thephoblographer.com/2011/07/11/using-the-olympus-ep3-with-panasonic-lenses/

    Note the 20mm lens isn't black anyway, so it doesn't really look good on anything :) (I'm kidding)
     
  7. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    Next post : comparative pictures of your back garden with both Pens?
     
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  8. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Pretty much how it's likely to roll! Have you read my other post on lens reviews, lol?
     
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    The little touchscreen toggle button (left side of the touchscreen) is a three way toggle between off, focus only, and focus & release. You can also disable it completely, but you have to go into the menu for that. But you can absolutely use it for focus only.

    -Ray
     
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  10. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Thanks Ray, but I'm either doing it wrong or missing something. I found the toggle, and I see I can shut it off, or go to focus&release. But the focus-only option is allowing me to move the focus point around, but I still have to half-press to focus. That is, in focus-only mode, pressing the screen DOESN'T allow me to actually focus, but only move the focus point around. Is that your experience?
     
  11. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Much better for tripod work

    I might even look to pick up one of the long lenses now.

    The EP3 is much better for tripod work. You can frame up the scene you want while mounted on a tripod, use touch-to-focus to focus on a specific area where maybe an interesting bird is, then just sit there until you want the shot. If something interesting moves in from the other side, you could just touch to focus on the far side, or even focus&release. This is a much better camera for tripod mount macro and wildlife work.
     
  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    You're right. I hadn't played around with that option much, but it does just select the focus point but not actually focus. If you're using the shutter button, it shouldn't matter because you're going to go through the half-press position anyway when you're shooting and it will focus then. But if you're using a remote, or a timer or something, I'm not sure how it would work then...

    -Ray
     
  13. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Hmmmm... yes, you are right about having to go through half-press anyway. I guess unless you re-assign shutter release to a different button. Not sure if that's possible on the EP3. That's never been my shooting style anyway. And, the focus is fast enough that maybe it doesn't make much of a difference.
     
  14. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Walked around this am and got a better feel for the camera. Updates are in main text above labeled "UPDATED" in bold. Will try to add some pictures later.

    (EDIT) Trying to work in RAW in Olympus Master II. Is this the slowest program, or what? I've got a Macbook Pro with 8GB RAM and 2.26 Core 2 Duo, and Oly Master is just doggin' it. Also, I can't seem to find how to compare two pictures in Oly Master (like you can in Lightroom). Am I missing something?
     
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  15. thearne3

    thearne3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    807
    Jan 28, 2010
    Redding, CT USA
    Great updates, Bill. Hadn't noticed the histogram issue - bummer. I've been using the highlight/shadow screen. In some situations that's enough (showing where the clipping is). The highlight/shadow adjust is cool - the manual is not clear whether this affects RAW or just JPEG. BTW, the electronic manual is accurate - I haven't even opened the paper version.
     
  16. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Some pictures to demonstrate some cool features.

    In this one, I kept the camera in the same position, and used touch-to-shoot (point #6 in OP) to focus first on the goal post and then on the background, I didn't have to change my framing or exposure values. Same shot, just different focus points (not a great subject, I know, but you get the point). and BTW -- the shutter is almost instant the minute you touch the screen.

    Screen_shot_2011-07-28_at_10_48_10_AM.

    For this next image, I had the camera almost to the ground (I was crouched, but not lying down), and the LCD was real easy to see. Then I just touched the screen in the lower left corner right over the mushroom and presto! No focus and recompose needed.

    Screen_shot_2011-07-28_at_10_48_25_AM.

    In this last image, this shows the highlights and shadows adjustment I mentioned in my first post, under point #9. It's not huge, but it does make a noticeable difference in tonality, and it's easy to see the adjustment right on screen as you are making them (although the difference shows up more in the originals than this screen shot but as a hint, look in the lower left corner for the strongest change). Left is without adjustments, and right is with the adjustments in camera for highlight and shadow. This was just a quick test. I suppose I should do a bit more.

    Screen_shot_2011-07-28_at_10_47_55_AM.
     
  17. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    Can you explain which pic is which settings for the chair legs?
     
  18. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Added notation in post #16
     
  19. BruPri

    BruPri Mu-43 Regular

    50
    Apr 13, 2010
    Seattle
    You mentioned that the bottom plate is different in composition from the E-P1, I'm curious about this because I had an issue with mine (E-P1) using a, bit larger Nikon lens and adapter that actually bent the rather thin bottom plate on the camera that was mounted on a tripod.
     
  20. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Sorry, I think I might have confused it a bit. The bottom plate material is exactly the same as far as I can tell, to the EP1. the only difference is that they added some molded ribbing, which will likely help it from rotating left and right while on a tripod, vs the EP1 which has a smooth bottom. I don't see anything that addresses the "weak plate" issue on the EP1. Maybe someone else would like to try bending their bottom plate as a test :)
     
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