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EP3 First Impressions

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Ray Sachs, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Well, that was quick. I sold my GH2, Nex, the Nex lenses, and a legacy lens a couple of weeks ago and figured I'd be without an m43 camera for a couple of months. I was leaning hard toward the EPL3 but after seeing some demos of the EP3 touch screen, I knew I was gonna have to try both and see which one I liked better. And to my surprise, the EP3 became available and I ordered one yesterday, which, given my proximity to NYC, means I got it overnight. And after playing around with it for about an hour...

    Everything I didn't like about earlier Oly cameras I LOVE about this one. Its just fast in pretty much everything it does. People are dithering on about how the AF is faster with some lenses than others. I suppose that's true, but they're ALL so frickin' fast I don't know how it could possibly matter if one is a slight fraction faster or slower than another. The Panasonic 20 is probably the slowest of the bunch that I've tried and it cooks - it felt slightly faster than the GH2 and the GH2 should be fast enough for anyone. Also, shot to shot time is basically as fast as you can push the shutter button (assuming you turn the auto-review feature off - otherwise you have to clear that). The blackout time and shutter lag that existed with the EP2 is just GONE.

    The touchscreen is just brilliant - I never even REMOTELY bonded with the touchscreen on the GH2 but the touch is so much lighter on the EP3 - it really is like an Iphone touch - not a press. Its VERY easy to toggle between having the touchscreen disabled, used for focus only, or used to both focus and shoot. You don't have to worry about accidentally hitting if you don't want to use it because its SOOOO easy to turn on and off. And with the OLED screen quite visible from a pretty wide angle of views, you can hold this camera out in front of you and down reasonably low and just shoot using the touchscreen. I'd been anticipating wanting the EPL3 for the tilt-screen and I'm sure I'll check one out once they hit the stores, but I'm not at all sure I'm going to want one if I can hold this and shoot it so unobtrusively without going near the shutter button. And with the lenses I almost always use for any sort of street application (the 14 and 17), the touch to the shot is so incredibly fast (assuming there's just a bit of light available) that I don't see much benefit to a half press - its not like there's any lag in the process. I don't anticipate this being my main street camera - I really love the silent shutter on the GRD3 and X100 - but certainly a worthy option when I'm not concerned about shutter noise.

    So far, I've tried it with the 14, 17, 20, 14-450, and 100-300 and AF is insanely fast on all of them. Oh, and the kit lens too, which I'll probably stash away until I eventually sell this, although its way too early to think about that. Haven't tried the 9-18 yet and I have a 45mm on the way, which I expect should be very very good.

    Misgivings? Well, the ring around the four-way controller is REALLY little - I don't recall the one on the EP2 being this small and I used that a lot more than the thumbwheel with that camera. With this one, I'll be using the thumbwheel for on the fly. If the ring on the EPL3 is this small, that could be a deal-breaker for me since its the only rotary type controller on that camera. I've only had the OLED screen outside for a few minutes (in case you haven't heard, its stinkin' HOT here these days). It was OK in very bright light, but that does seem to reduce the useful angle of view somewhat - not as impressive as the Nex screen was in bright light. I haven't played with the settings yet, though, so maybe this can be brightened up...

    I don't know anything about IQ - probably won't until Apple gets around to offering raw support for this camera. But I'm sure it'll be fine. I loved the IQ from my EP2 and I can't imagine this won't be at least as good. I'm not an IQ freak and am satisfied with the IQ of my GRD3 most of the time, so I'll be fine with this.

    Anyway, I'm back in the fold. In many ways, these new Olympus cams were what I've been waiting for in m43 gear - Oly features and feel with Panasonic speed (if not more). Gonna be very tough to beat for an all-around system camera.

    -Ray
     
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  2. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the info! I have been teetering on canceling my EP3 pre-order to get an EPL3 instead. Now I think I'll wait it out anyway, and get the EP3. But, I want silver, so I have to wait :( -- actually I'm thinking I might even want white!

    Welcome back! :)
     
  3. dcisive

    dcisive Mu-43 Veteran

    460
    Feb 19, 2010
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Lee
    Just curious. when was the last time you used a G3?
     
  4. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Hi Ray,

    Thanks so much for the "really" real world review, in terms anybody can digest. "Frickin' fast" is a term that resonates with me...:biggrin:

    Have to say, I'm truly glad it impressed you. Now if only they would silence that shutter...

    Alan
     
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  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I didn't use a G3 - I owned a GH2 up until a couple of weeks ago and from everything I understand, the G3 and GH2 are more or less identical when it comes to responsiveness. But I don't claim any personal experience with the G3. The GH2 is a great camera, but it just always felt like a mini-DSLR to me, a look and feel I was never comfortable shooting with. It did everything I asked of it. But from the feel of it, so will this Oly and in a form factor that I'm just far more comfortable with.

    Quick update - I've never been real big on face detection, but this is so fast and effective, I'll probably use it. I just did a bunch of shots of my wife with the kit lens. She was sitting still and I was moving around the room and changing the focal length and her location in the frame and I was shooting back to back to back as fast as I could and it nailed focus on her face every time. It only got mildly confused when she was backlit and her knee was out in front of her face in better light and it tried shooting her knee once or twice. Every other time - dead on...

    -Ray
     
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  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Indeed. From what little (and I mean LITTLE) I understand of the technical aspects of this stuff, they can't do a silent shutter with an interchangeable lens camera. Only a fixed lens (zoom or fixed focal length) - so I have it on my X100, GRD3, and LX5, but not having it was the achilles heel of the Nex and this doesn't have it either. Although the shutter on this isn't quite as loud as on the Nex I don't think.

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Ray

    Glad you are happy with the EP3. I never had a problem with the speed on my EP2, but I did wish it would be faster - not so much in AF, though that's nice, but in overall operation. It certainly seems that this is no longer a problem.

    As you say, if the IQ is as good as the EP2 (and it seems it is better in a few ways) then it it will be excellent for a range of uses.

    I didn't like the lower dial on the EP2, and it seems that on the 3 is much the same: small, and easy to move accidentally.

    The EP3 would not be on my prospect list, but I am glad Olympus have upped the game on some key parameters. That's good for the overall M4/3 world.

    Enjoy your new camera.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. MrKal_El

    MrKal_El Mu-43 Top Veteran

    661
    Mar 24, 2011
    Thank you for this Ray! I am HIGHLY anticipating the PL3 (I have the PL2 & LOVE it.) As for the shuttter: I really love that sound.
     
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  9. zettapixel

    zettapixel Mu-43 Veteran

    470
    Aug 12, 2010
    NY
    Thank you Ray for the review!
    Sounds like E-P3 is all I want from m43 minus a cleaner sensor. You got me drooling a bit... but I shall be strong, E-P1 it is for another year.
     
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  10. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    It really is so much about what we are each comfortable with. That could be used to sum up many a discussion on many a forum. Glad you are finding the E-P3 such a pleasure. Looking forward to seeing images as well.
     
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  11. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Ray, I believe that Panasonic are working on a 4/3rds sensor with global shutter... i.e. lose the mechanical shutter and control the exposure on-sensor. This will lead to a cheaper, simpler mechanical construction and could open the way for high dynamic range multi-exposures on the fly.

    Exciting times ahead for m4/3rds :thumbup:

    Cheers

    Brian
     
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  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    That will be great when it happens. I'm sure someday everything I want will exist in ONE camera - flip screen (now I have to add touch controls), fast AF and shot to shot time, silent shutter, OVF, interchangeable lenses, X100 or better low light performance - but there are a few or several intermediate steps between here and there, and I'm likely destined to take most of those steps as they come along... :biggrin:

    -Ray
     
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  13. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    And don't forget keeping it all in a package no bigger than a NEX with the 16/2.8 mounted!!! :wink:
     
  14. scarbrd

    scarbrd Mu-43 Regular

    144
    Jul 1, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Mine arrives tomorrow!!

    I've enjoyed the E-PL2 quite a bit. I too long for a the ability to silence the shutter.

    I'm also waiting for the Leica (Panasonic) 25mm 1.4 to arrive.

    I've been pleased with the IQ of the E-PL2 in the lower ISO ranges, and the prints from it on the Epson 3880 are nothing short of spectacular.

    I would actually like lower ISO capabilities. The E-PL2 lowest ISO is 200. I'd like to get to 50 and keep the highlight clipping in check for longer exposures when the opportunity arises.
     
  15. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    My money would be on the (so called) Pro Panasonic having a global shutter sensor... I would be surprised if it arrived before Christmas (this year) though.

    Enjoy your E-P3 Ray, please post some samples / further impressions in due course!

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  16. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I've convinced myself that I'm happy with the GH2 and won't get the E-P3, but you do make it tough :rofl:. Seriously though, thanks for the impressions! I hope you'll share your ongoing thoughts and images in this thread. As for Apple supporting the RAW, have you tried batch changing the EXIFs to look like they are E-P2 files? I bet it would work.
     
  17. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Thanks for the review! :smile:
    My inquiring mind would like to know....Have continuous AF and Tracking AF speeds been increased?
     
  18. scarbrd

    scarbrd Mu-43 Regular

    144
    Jul 1, 2011
    Houston, TX
    That worked with the E-PL2 files (to E-PL1) when it first came out.

    We will probably see the DNG converter from Adobe updated first, along with Lightroom and Photoshop CS 5.5.

    I still use PS CS4 and Aperture, so I have got the DNG or the RAW file hack route until Apple updates their Camera RAW.
     
  19. timallenphoto

    timallenphoto Mu-43 Veteran

    266
    May 20, 2011
    Kent, England
    Don't they say the M9 has a silent shutter or have I misread that?
     
  20. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Hi Ray

    Question -- I found out recently (had no idea!) that much of the EP1 "lag" was due to IBIS firing up. Since I've shut off IBIS, I've found the EP1 is much faster.

    Can you test the EP3? Do you see a noticeable response difference from when you press the shutter to the actual picture, whether you have IBIS on or not??