Camera Noob, Olympus E-PL3?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Notorious TIM, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. Notorious TIM

    Notorious TIM New to Mu-43

    Sep 9, 2013
    Hello, this is my first post on the site.
    Recently my families god awful point and shoot camera from 6-7 years ago was damaged beyond repair. I figured this would be as good an excuse as any to upgrade and learn a bit more about photography. I have been doing some research and I think I have settled on getting an Olympus E-PL3. This seems to be a good camera to learn about photography with (please correct me if i'm wrong), and still take good pictures. I will be studying abroad in New Zealand this coming spring and am looking for a camera that will take good pictures but not weigh me down while I travel/hike. I enjoy taking landscape photo's and was thinking of buying the Panasonic 14mm lens after a while when I get some basics of photography covered, as I thought I read this would suit landscape photos well. I have a good friend that is a photographer hobbyist, but he seems to be a DSLR purist, making it frustrating to ask for his advice, and he doesn't seem to understand that I don't want to carry around a huge 10 pound pack just for cameras and that I don't want to spend $400 on a lens, also I don't want to invest hundreds in a piece of equipment I do not know how to use.
    I'm a college student and am basically looking for a camera that won't take my whole bank account with it when I buy and that I will be able to take respectable photos with.
    hopefully you will understand where I am coming from and someone can advise me in this area or point me in the right direction.


  2. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Welcome to the forum Tim. EPL3 is a nice camera. And the Panasonic 14/2.5 is also a nice little lens. If you don't mind investing just a little bit more, the EPM2 and the EPL5 have the newest 16 mp sensors also found on the much more expensive EM5 and EP5. I think it's worth the extra money.

    • Like Like x 2
  3. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Personally, I think that the E-PL2 has better ergonomics than the E-PL3 and E-PL5, but the E-PL5 has the newer better sensor (and of course it costs a couple of hundred dollars more than the E-PL2 or E-PL3).
  4. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Let me extend a welcome from here in NZ ahead of time. :)

    I can really relate to your desires for a lighter kit - I'm a small guy and when it came time to upgrade from my Fujifilm bridge camera, I really wanted a higher quality but smaller kit for travel and events. I pretty much concluded that DSLRs were permanently out of the equation on that front. I think an E-PL3 (and a 14-42mm kit lens I assume) is a great place to start for what you've outlined. The 14mm prime is awesome value for money in my opinion if you want an inexpensive and small kit. I really like the 28mm equivalent FL for shots out and about while travelling as well as for landscapes. Being a small pancake and reasonable in lower light, it also makes a decent camera to take to parties and events.

    Do give some consideration to the E-PM2 and E-PL5, however, if you can find a good deal that falls within budget. They have much improved sensors that offer higher resolution, but more importantly, better high ISO performance and much improved dynamic range. The high ISO performance comes in handy when light gets low, but for landscapes it's having the 2 stops of extra dynamic range that is really useful - fewer issues with blown highlights in clouds and noisy pushed shadows. A lot of NZ is very open so I've encountered this quite a bit when in full sun with my older camera, whereas my new EM-5 with an equivalent sensor to the E-PM2 and E-PL5 handles those situations much better. Of course, it's best to avoid that and go for earlier/later light, but hey we can't always plan our trips exclusively for photography right?
    • Like Like x 1
  5. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    The EPL3 is plenty of camera but if you could get a used EPL5 for the same price as a new EPL3 I would suggest that as you'd be getting the latest sensor and easily be plenty good for years to come. Either way, you won't go wrong with either one.

    I wouldn't suggest the EPMx bodies. The ibis is reported not as good (may have to do with lightness of the body) and if your looking to get into photography having use the screen to set aperature and shutter speed isn't ideal. Especially if you start shooting manual mode (which you will want to get familiar with) If you plan going auto for the majority, then yeah an epm2 with a 14 would make for the smallest m43 camera setup possible (until the rumors GM-x body is revealed) with excellent IQ.
  6. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    Welcome TIM. Not to stray off of main street here, but if I were in your shoes I'd definitely consider a good point and shoot as well. Something like the Panasonic LX7 (new for around $300) or Sony RX100 (used around $425) or Olympus XZ-1 (used for <$200).

    You will trade off a little IQ vs the E-PL3+14/2.5 at 14mm, but gain a lot of versatility. The LX7 will also give you 24mm at the wide end, which could be very useful for NZ landscapes.
  7. blitzvitz

    blitzvitz Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 21, 2013
    Manila, Philippines
    Jourdan Fernandez
    The biggest downside with the E-PL3 are the older generation sensor and the poor handling.

    I know this is the Olympus forum, but I believe their are still GX1 bodies for around 280USD?
    I'd rather get a GX1 than an E-PL3. I believe they are great value for money at the prices they are selling nowadays.
  8. cpclark

    cpclark Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 11, 2013
    Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    Christopher Paul
    I might be the only person here to tell you to go ahead and just buy the E-PL3 :thumbup:. I recently came into the :43: family back in May with this very camera and it's made a convert out of me! I was a Nikon DSLR shooter for years but since getting this camera I've since sold all my gear to be able to buy new lenses for the system. Another bonus is they are actually affordable unlike most Nikon lenses are.

    While you could get a GX1 for about the same price, the tilt-able screen and in-body stabilization was what made the decision for me. I got the camera new with the 17mm f/2.8 lens for $250 so there are good deals out there if you look for them. I would get the E-PL3 and if you like the IQ and small size, you can always upgrade to a better body later. I myself plan to get a E-M5 next year once those drop in price just a bit more.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Personally, If the IQ of the earlier sensor in the E-PL3 is OK for you, IMHO, the E-PL2 is better - in particular, it handles better due to a much more substantial grip, and has more physical user controls, and a built-in pop-up flash, which the E-PL3 lacks. IMHO, the ONLY plus feature of the E-PL3 is the flip-up screen. Both of these are IMHO, the least expensive of the Oly Pens that are worthy of buying at this point. And BTW, used E-PL3 and EPL2 kits can be gotten for around $225 or less, and bodies for around $150 or less.

    I should add, I own both an E-PL5 (which is ergonomically the same as the E-PL3) and an E-PL2. Despite the fact that the E-PL5 has the newer better sensor, I might prefer shooting with the E-PL2 because of it's ergonomic superiority.
  10. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Ok, if I were Tim I'd really get confused.

    Personally, I think ergonomics is very subjective. I don't find the E-PL3 suffers too much vs. the E-PL2 - I've had both and never compared those two cameras in those terms. YMMV - which is exactly the point. We don't know the size of the OP's hands, yes? :smile:

    And yes, the GX1 might be better, but why? I don't see any specific reason? The price reason doesn't seem to check out -- the E-PL3 + lens ($259) is cheaper than a GX1 ($279.99 body only) in Amazon. Plus the E-PL3's flippity screen can teach the user a lot about perspective when shooting. (It does to me, anyway. So much so that when considering a new camera, flippity screen is a must. Again - YMMV.)

    The bigger question then is if the new sensor on an E-PL5 is worth more than double the E-PL3 ($290 difference). Only Tim can say.

    But I can tell you that people here in this forum have been producing great images even back when there was only an E-P1. The old sensor on the E-PL3 is not bad, and there's a lot of room for producing great images. My advice is the E-PL3 is a great little camera, and only when you feel you're already being limited by the sensor and not your skills, I say time for an upgrade. :wink:

    Oh, and welcome Tim! :biggrin:
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Notorious TIM

    Notorious TIM New to Mu-43

    Sep 9, 2013
    wow, thanks for all the responses, gives me a lot to think about. I did some looking on the E-PM2 (the E-PL5 is slightly too expensive for what I'm going for). even though the E-PM2 lacks the external controls it still has the same settings that can be adjusted as the E-PL3 does right? I would just have to go into the menu in order to access these.
  12. Notorious TIM

    Notorious TIM New to Mu-43

    Sep 9, 2013
    wow, thanks for all the responses, gives me a lot to think about. I did some looking on the E-PM2 (the E-PL5 is slightly too expensive for what I'm going for). even though the E-PM2 lacks the external controls it still has the same settings that can be adjusted as the E-PL3 does right? I would just have to go into the menu in order to access these.
  13. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    Yes. Everything just takes a bit longer to adjust as you need to navigate the menus and could result in a lost shot but the IQ is better then the old 12mp cameras - it's also IMO significantly more pocketable then any of the other cameras. Couple it with a 14mm and it's a pretty tidy little package for for a m43s camera. Also, handling the camera can be tough as well as it has no grip on the front and so small and light. Just pay close attention to shutter speed, try and always shoot well about the 1/focal 35mm eq. length.. give yourself some extra space and shoot 1 or 2 more stops then that dictates.


    14mm lens, minimum handheld shutter of 1/30, but probably safer at 1/60 or 125.. i would kick up iso 1st 1 or 2 stop vs. lower lower the shutter on an EPM2 unless you have a very steady hand.
  14. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK

    Although the EPL-3 is not the latest sensor compared to most Point and Shoot cameras the pictures are a significant improvement. There are some real bargains available too.

    We recently purchased an EPL-3 for a friend's (student) daughter ready for her 12 months gap year on an animal husbandry course again like yourself she wanted something easy to pack etc. The camera (new) with twin zooms for £230 (~US$350) was too good to pass up.

    She absolutely loves the camera and the images it produces and has discovered she likes macro as well so have ordered some extension tubes she can use with her two zooms.

    The other option we considered was a Panasonic G3 kit but this was more expensive and she preferred the smaller Olympus.

    Yes the latest sensors may give slightly better results, particularly under low light conditions, but at double the cost it's hard to recommend this for a student.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I did say consider those newer bodies only if they are within budget... otherwise the E-PL3 is probably your best option.
  16. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Don't underestimate the inconvenience of having to go into the menus to change settings. For me, this makes the E-PM2 (or the E-PM1) a non-starter - and is a MUCH bigger disadvantage than the older sensor that's in the E-PL2 and E-PL3. This is especially true for a student who is trying to learn the effects that changing the various settings will have on the pictures that they take.

    To me, the E-PM2 is strictly to be considered as a high quality interchangeable lens Point and Shoot for someone who doesn't want to be bothered with the camera's settings.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    The only time I have to menu dive with the E-PM2 is to select a MySet. Changing shooting modes is simple, and I never have to worry about the mode dial getting bumped to another mode when I wasn't looking. Between the extra Fn button, the persistent small focus box and the touch screen, the E-PM2 is worlds better to use than the E-PM1 I sold. My primary body is the E-M5, so I do appreciate manual controls. But the 2 is a huge step up from the E-PM1.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 4
  18. totohdyt

    totohdyt Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 18, 2012

    Regards/TH/Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 mobile app
  19. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    I'm curious How do you adjust the shutter speed, or the aperture, or the ISO, without diving into the menus? If you're not adjusting these specific controls, then my point about the camera being, effectively a point and shoot, stands.
  20. gugarci

    gugarci Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2012
    Lyndhurst, NJ
    Buy the E-PL3 and spend the rest of your cash on better glass. the glass is more important than the body. My E-P3 images were so good that I had no issues saying goodbye to my D300 and all my Nikon glass. The newer sensor is better at high ISO but unless you plan to mainly shoot above ISO 1600 this is not a big deal.

    While the dynamic range is better on the newer bodies this is also a non issue for my needs. I shoot raw, expose correctly, and when I need a little more dynamic range the adjustment brushes in LR are fantastic. I still use my old LX3 all the time and I have no issues with the dynamic range either.
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