E-P3 or E-PL3?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by jamespetts, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    After having a disappointing experience with an E-PL2 in June, culminating in the company from which I bought it - Camerabox - going into liquidation before I received a refund or exchange, I decided to wait before purchasing a replacement until the new models were out.

    Before the third generation, the choice between the E-P2 and E-PL2 was easy: the PL2 was both better and cheaper than the P2, so there was no point in considering its more expensive cousin. Now, the choice is less clear.

    I want a reasonably small and light camera, but testing the E-P3 and E-PL3 in a shop (the London Camera Exchange on the Strand - the staff are very helpful there), both seem small and light enough for my purposes, and the E-P3 is easier to hold (although I understand that there are grips available for the E-PL3).

    I want to use the camera for a variety of purposes, from holiday photographs to parties to more artistic shots, and value image quality. I also like taking photographs in low light without having to use a flash, and am attracted by the well-renowned 20mm f/1.7 lens, which I should like to acquire one day.

    I also have a number of older manual Canon FD lenses (and an adapter for them to Micro Four Thirds that I obtained for the ill-fated E-PL2), which I should like to be able to use, and also a rather nice Pentax M42 screw thread 135mm f/3.5 (and an adapter for that, too) that I should also like to be able to use with it, although I don't plan on carrying those lenses around all of the time.

    I had read that the E-P3's OLED screen had poorer colour rendition than the E-PL3's LCD screen, although was brighter and of higher resolution. When I tested it in the shop, I found the colours markedly inferior, to the point of it being problematic (I am very keen on accurate colours). However, I am wondering now whether I checked that the E-P3's white balance was correctly set when I tested it in the shop; I am interested in people's views on the E-P3's screen colours. When I tested it against the E-PL3 for manual focussing using the 14-42mm lens, I found it to be easy with both to find a focal point on a little pot of stationery (scissors, pencils, etc.) that they had in the shop where moving the focus ring in either direction would make the relevant object appear noticeably less in focus. I have read that the E-P3's higher resolution screen is better for focussing, but is it better enough, given my experience above, to make a significant difference in practical use, I wonder?

    Also on the screen - I rather like the idea of touch focus/shutter, especially for photographs that have to be taken fairly quickly, but wonder how much use that they are likely to be in practice; what are people here's experiences of this feature on the E-P3?

    I am attracted to Micro Four Thirds generally because of the low size and weight, but also the availability of interchangeable lenses, and rather like the idea of being able to carry a nice camera with several lenses in pockets rather than in a heavy bag. I also have a penchant for fixed focal length lenses (all but one of my old Canon FD lenses were fixed focal length). I looked at the 14-42mm lens and compared it to the 17mm lens (which comes as a kit with the E-P3 but not E-PL3 for some reason), and found the 17mm unit to be markedly slower in focussing. At barely more than half a stop faster than the 14-42mm at equivalent focal length, I do wonder whether there is any point to this lens (and also wonder whether Olympus or anyone else is likely to bring out a better 17mm lens in future), and, despite initially leaning towards the 17mm lens, am now leaning towards the 14-42mm, although have not finally decided. I should be interested in views on lens choice, too.

    I am not a fan of the E-PL3's flash arrangement, although if the flash is left semi-permanently attached (I do not have much interest in using a viewfinder, as I prefer using the rear screen to compose - another reason that I am attracted to Micro Four Thirds in the first place) I suppose that it is not too much of a difficulty. I tend to prefer natural light photographs in any event, although that is often not possible with my existing camera - a Canon G10 - as the low light performance of the sensor is not the greatest, and the image stabilisation is also not as good as in the Olympus (although it does have some).

    In any event, I should be very grateful for people's views on the various points that I have discussed, especially people who have had experience with using either the E-P3 or E-PL3. Thank you in advance!
     
  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I had both for a while and settled on the EPL3. But that's almost entirely because of the flip up screen. If that wasn't important to me, I'd have gone with the EP3 in a heartbeat. I liked everything about a little bit better, but its mostly down to ergonomics - the EP3 just feels better in my hand - a lot better. I'm hoping one of the aftermarket grips will help with the epl3, but I doubt it will ever be as comfortable as the EP3. In terms of screen colors, you can probably adjust them to your liking. And it has no impact on the final colors in the image, which are identical between all three of the new models. The touchscreen on the EP3 is sort of nice and works very well, but some people seem to find themselves using it and some don't. I didn't, so it wasn't a reason for me to keep it, where I use the flip up screen on the epl3 most of the time.

    You seem to know the features and the tradeoffs pretty well, the flash, the screens, the ergonomics, etc. You just have to figure out which your more comfortable with. I was really conflicted because the camera I liked less overall had the ONE killer feature that I really really wanted. So I went with that one. If I could have rationalized keeping both, I probably would have.

    -Ray
     
  3. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Ray,

    thank you for your perspective. Why did you find the flip-up screen so important? How do you use it?
     
  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Its partially that I do a lot of street photography and I find holding the camera at waist level and looking down into the screen (like an old twin len reflex) to be a very comfortable way to shoot in those situations. But part of it is just the literal similarity to a twin lens reflex, which I shot a lot with as a kid and always liked. I still do. I guess its just personal preference. Its not for everyone, but its very clearly for me. I figured this out when I had a Nex for a while and fell in love with that feature and was thrilled that Olympus brought the same type of screen to m43.

    I sort of wish I didn't like it so much, because I really loved the EP3 and if they'd have only added this screen to that camera, it would have been an absolute no-brainer for me...

    -Ray
     
  5. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    I am an E-P3 user, and have only played with the E-PL3 at the store, so my comments will focus on my experience with the E-P3. For me, the reasons I chose the E-P3 are the ergonomics (feel better in my hands), and 2 control dials, which make manual adjustments much quicker. The high-res OLED display is also another major reason I got the E-P3 (not to mention the touchscreen, which I found out to be quite useful after I bought the camera, esp. when chasing after my kid). The higher resolution and larger size of the display allow me to manual focus without zooming in, which is very handy if you manual-focus often. In terms of color rendition, I found the color of the OLED display to be over-saturated and too bright out of the box, but after some manual adjustments, I think the color looks much more natural now.

    The one thing I do wish the E-P3 has is a tilting screen, which would make taking pictures of children at a desired angle much easier.
     
  6. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I have an E-P3 and my wife is using the E-PL3. My comments would mirror what Ray said on ergonomics, that the E-P3 feels a lot more natural in your hands. The grip may go a long ways towards bringing the PL3 closer in ergonomics.

    I do like using the touch focus and touch shutter on the E-P3 - not all the time, but occasionally it comes in handy and works very well. Also, the image display is a bit bigger on the P3. I do wish the E-P3's screen was tilt-able, but, the lack of tilt screen does make the body slimmer than the E-PL3. I can see where this could be an important option, though, depending on your shooting style.

    I cannot comment on color accuracy on the E-P3 display as I really just use this for framing and quick reviews. I picked up an EVF, but have used this very little so far... have found the OLED to be bright enough in sunlight for my needs.
     
  7. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    In terms of thickness of the camera bodies, from the photos that I've seen (particularly in the review of the EP3 in DPReview), are the EP3 and EPL3 pretty much the same thickness? I thought the EPL3 would be thinner, but they look the same. But the EP3 is perhaps a bit wider?
     
  8. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    The E-P3 is slightly wider and taller than the E-PL3. The E-P3 and the E-PM1 are the same depth, but the E-PL3 is thicker due to the tilt screen.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    I guess to truly go small, I'd have to get an EPM1. Thanks!
     
  10. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    Dropped by Best Buy during lunch break, and they are carrying the EPM1 now. The thing is tiny! The zoom lens is super tiny. It looks smaller than the kit zoom with the EP2, thinking from memory. But, it seems like the kit zoom of the EP2 is actually smaller from photos that I've seen. The EPM1's LCD also seems considerably smaller than the LCD of the EP2, but the image looks a little better.
     
  11. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Thank you all very much for your views! Any thoughts on lens choice?
     
  12. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    I guess there are only two choices -- 17mm or 14-42. The 14-42 was reworked to take advantage of the fast AF. The 17 is not, but looks nice mounted on a Pen!!
     
  13. drpump

    drpump Mu-43 Regular

    154
    Oct 28, 2010
    If you can buy body-only, then I'd suggest neither. But I haven't seen anyone offering these without a lens.

    So, my pick would be the 14-42, especially since you're considering the 20mm Panasonic (which is a must-have, in my opinion).
     
  14. f64

    f64 Mu-43 Regular

    72
    Mar 6, 2010
    The touch screen on the e-p3 doesn't work for me. 1-it is hard not to induce shake when using it to take a picture, and 2-if you use the EVF, you have to turn off the touch screen, otherwise the camera is subject to freezing (see related posts on e-p3 freezing).
    Software updates can correct the second problem, but not the first.
     
  15. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    If I can get the camera body only, what lens would you suggest? Do you think it material that the 14-42mm is currently one of the few lenses that supports fully the new "FAST" autofocus?
     
  16. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I am probably the wrong guy to ask, as I do not use any zooms on my E-P3. I have seen some great images from the little kit zoom around here, but I got into m4/3 for the small, fast primes. I think it is one of the huge advantages of this system.

    The latest Oly 12mm has the MSC zoom speed designation, as will the new 45mm f1.8 that has been getting great reviews. I have the 12mm and love the lens, though, the purchase price hurts a little. Otherwise, the Panasonic 14mm will focus very quick (Panasonic's HD designation now), has nearly the same image quality, and is super, super tiny. Depending on what lenses you choose from above, you could always have the 20mm for low light situations where focus speed is not critical... it isn't horrible, just not best-in-class for m4/3 now. Or, you could preorder the new Panasonic-Leica 25mm f1.4 instead of the 20mm... will focus a lot more quickly (their HD designation again) and faster, just about 2x the length of the 20mm in size.
     
  17. FaradayCage

    FaradayCage Mu-43 Regular

    62
    Apr 22, 2010
    The choice could be E-P3 versus E-PM1, not the PL. Use the difference in price to buy the Panasonic 20mm 1.7.
     
  18. nandystam

    nandystam Mu-43 Regular

    49
    Aug 16, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    I am in a similar boat to the OP.

    What settings are people using for the OLED display to get more natural colors?
     
  19. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    I think this is really personal preference, but for me, I was surprised when I checked my settings just now that I actually had the color temperature at +3 and brightness at -1. I always thought I had toned down the color temperature, but the current settings work for me, getting results closest to the actual output.