Olympus E-P3 or E-PL3?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by mqavila, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. mqavila

    mqavila Mu-43 Regular

    Hi guys,

    I've read a lot of reviews and blogs on these two cameras and I'm no closer to deciding which one is for me. Heck, even the Lumix GX1 is on my mind! I used to have a GH2 but ended up selling it since it was too much camera for me. I mainly use my camera for family occasions and whenever I'm travelling.

    I ended up selling my Lumix 14-45mm and 14-140mm together with my GH2 but I held onto my Lumix 20mm in the hope that I could return to the M43 world. I'm currently using the Lumix FZ150 superzoom which is a great all-around camera but I miss the bokeh, the lowlight performance and the better image quality of M43.

    I know that the E-P3 is more expensive but I don't mind investing in it if it means that it's the camera for me. So far, these have been my observations based on what I've read on the net:

    E-P3 - full-featured with an OLED touchscreen and built-in flash (and a grip) BUT it's bigger and heavier.

    E-PL3 - smaller, lighter and sleeker but with slightly less features (flash is not built-in, less art filters, lower resolution and effectively smaller LCD due to 16:9 ratio, no grip).

    Based on these, I would want the E-P3 due to its better features and better screen but am slightly drawn to the E-PL3 due to its smaller size (which is also a double-edged sword since its harder to hold unless you get a third party grip)... I also had the opportunity to try both momentarily at a shop the other day - the E-P3 seemed had a faster focus speed than the E-PL3... but then I could be wrong since I didn't have enough time to test either.

    So, this post is for those of you out there who have had firsthand experience with any of these cameras. I would appreciate your comments and advice on this. Thanks in advance!
  2. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    If you can afford the E-P3 (well, afford and don't mind spending in that pricepoint) then I think it's the far nicer camera. Functionally similar, but I like the touch screen, grip, and most of all the styling. It is the better looking camera imo and should age fairly gracefully (as consumer electronics devices go).

    But frankly the innards are the same so its up to you whether or not the cosmetics and a few minor differences are worth the ~2-300$.
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  3. mqavila

    mqavila Mu-43 Regular

    Thanks for the input! Follow-up question: if I decide on the E-P3, what color should I get? Assuming I do go for the E-P3, I've narrowed it down to silver or white. (And if I go for the E-PL3, I've narrowed it down to black or silver)...
  4. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    What makes the GH2 "too much camera for you"? Just curious.
  5. Daozard

    Daozard Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 4, 2011
    Ep3, I say silver bcoz its lens and accessories mostly in silver or black...
    for epl3, either silver or black is good...
  6. mqavila

    mqavila Mu-43 Regular

    I mainly use my camera for family gatherings and the occasional travel, and I'm basically a P&S at heart but willing to learn a bit more. The GH2 was a very very capable camera but I only used 2% of its capabilities and was mainly on iA mode most of the time. Since I'm planning on shooting JPEGs 99% of the time, I'm now turning to Olympus for its great SOOC JPEGs.

    To be honest, based on what I just said, it appears that I should just go for the smaller PENs (E-PL3 or E-PM1). But, I eventually would want to put a larger lens on the body (such as the Oly 14-150mm or Panny 14-140mm or something similar) and am just anticipating the possible awkward handling of a small body with long lens...
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    It really just comes down to the feel vs size vs features - the performance is pretty much identical. I love the feel of the EP3 more than nearly any camera - the EPL3 isn't nearly as good in the hand. BUT, with an aftermarket grip like Richard Franiac's, its not bad at all and you won't think about it after a little while. If I was shooting with long lenses a lot, I guess it wouldn't be my first choice, but I shoot with the 14-150 from time to time and the camera handles fine since its basically a two handed operation with that lens anyway. To me, the big, no HUGE, difference is the rear screen. I love the flip up screen on the EPL3 - it allows me to shoot from the waist while framing the photo, like an old twin lens reflex, and that's my favorite way to shoot for a LOT of shooting. So the EPL3 was a much better choice for me. Without that, I'd have gone for the EP3 but that's sort of like asking "aside from THAT, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play"? To me, its a big feature, VERY big feature. Some people, probably most people, unaccountably, don't find the flip up screen all that important. For them, I'd generally recommend the EP3. Unless small is really important - the EPL3 and EPM1 are a LOT smaller than the EP3. Not that the EP3 is particularly big, but those other two (along with the Pany GF3) are really tiny little bodies.

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  8. mqavila

    mqavila Mu-43 Regular

    Your post was very informative and highly appreciated, Ray.

    My gut tells me to go for the E-PL3 but I can't help but think that a little voice will keep on telling me, "you should have gone for the E-P3, you should have gone for the E-P3" once I take the plunge... :biggrin:

    But you're absolutely right, the E-P3 is noticeably bigger than the other two PENs.

    Ummm... if I go for the E-PL3, do you think I'll miss whatever additional features the E-P3 has? the E-PL3 is clearly easier on the budget. :)
  9. luxco

    luxco New to Mu-43

    Oct 20, 2010
    E-PL3 for me too.

    I had a similar decision, "upgrading" (really fast focus, quickest burst speed) from an E-P2, but for me it also came down to that tilt screen, never thought I would find it so useful. The PL3 is indeed smaller, but I took off the D-rings and slipped on a a hand lanyard. With that around my wrist it brings the camera tight into my hand, and makes it easy to control. I also like the placement of the controls on th PL3.

    Part of photography is enjoying your equipment. I like the size and shape of the Pen Lite, although I kept my P2, and it is still a nice camera. My wife also has an E-PL1, and she likes that one....

    For me, I went with a black PL3, the silver seems to have a sort of grey back panel, didn't look appealing in the pictures, might look better in the hand but I didn't find one in my local shops.

    Whichever one you choose, I know you'll enjoy it, and either one is capable of amazing pictures, beyond my capabilities certainly!:smile:
  10. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Out of your list of pros and cons, the only ones I would consider relevant to myself would be the OLED touchscreen and grip of the E-P3 vs. the smaller size of the E-PL3.

    Built-in flash is useless to me (both cameras have hotshoes for "proper" flash) and art filters are also useless to me. I don't get what you mean by lower resolution in the E-PL3, as they both have the same resolution (in terms of both resolving power and pixel resolution). The 16:9 LCD I actually prefer, contrary to first instinct. I also have the E-PL2 which has the same LCD size and resolution, but in 4:3 aspect instead of 16:9. It provides a larger view for stills but a smaller view for video. For stills I use tools like magnify and MF assist as well as the VF-2 viewfinder, so the size of view is not as important. However, what really irked me about that screen was the difficulty in manually focusing video, which has no option of magnification for easy focus (peaking or zebras would come in handy here). The 16:9 screen of the E-PM1/E-PL3 helps a little with that problem.

    As far as OLED vs. LED, I think it's a toss-up. The OLED is brighter and more vibrant, giving better contrast for manual focus and such. However, the same things that make the OLED more desired are also the things which make it worse. The LED gives a much truer view, especially in terms of color balance which can be way off with the OLED. Most of us use LCD monitors on our computers, so the LCD monitors of our cameras can more closely represent what we will see in the image when we upload them to the computer. It is also closer to what we will see in print.

    The touchscreen of the OLED screen however, is a clear advantage. I would only use it for touch-to-focus, but that one feature is pretty handy.

    In terms of size, both cameras have their advantage in their own way. The E-P3 gives you a larger hold along with more space for dedicated controls. However, the E-PL3 and E-PM1 do not skimp on any of the controls and features of its larger cousin or even higher grade DSLRs. Retaining full features and control in the smallest possible form is really what the Micro Four-Thirds system is all about, and this ideal is best exemplified in the E-PL3 and E-PM1. The E-PM1 proved to us that we don't need to lose any features in order to make our cameras as small as physically possible. In fact, if you compare it to the GF-3 it is even shorter where the GF-3's pop-up flash protrudes. What that tells me is that the GF-3 could have been built with hotshoe support for speedlights, studio strobes, and triggers as well as an Electronic Viewfinder like the E-PM1, and it still could have been SMALLER than it is without those things. Ironic, isn't it?

    Short of the matter is, these cameras are both just as capable and the biggest difference is in how they hold and handle. So what's more important to you, being able to pack it into the smallest possible bag, or would you still like to have a larger camera to hold onto when you shoot?

    Personally, I now have two E-PM1s and am considering selling my larger E-PL2. ;) It's amazing how capable those little cameras are. I don't miss my E-3 at all anymore...
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  11. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Silver of course! I love the look of the metallic pens even if the bodies are not as sturdy as they may appear (when stressed).

    Just as an additional thought, you might be tempted by the E-P3 on a purely emotional rather than rational level. I was in a similar place when I was shopping around and the current models were the e-p1, e-pl1 (and e-p2). The E-Pl1 has slightly better IQ and the ability to take the VF2 is nice. But ultimately I loved the feel of the E-P1 and the looks. It's a camera I still enjoy using and just feels fun to use (even if I know rationally I have a more functional camera in my G1).
  12. timallenphoto

    timallenphoto Mu-43 Veteran

    May 20, 2011
    Kent, England
    You must must must spend some time with both cameras. I tried an epl3 briefly in a shop and thought it would be ok, I bought one and after half an hour it was driving me insane as I couldn't hold the damn thing properly and the controls were all too fiddly. Having said that of course, the ep3 is absurdly expensive so it's a difficult decision to make.
  13. mqavila

    mqavila Mu-43 Regular

    If and when I decide to get the E-PL3, I'll definitely get a third party grip. I had an opportunity to try both cameras briefly at a shop and the E-PL3 was indeed a bit hard to hold due to the smooth surface. But I like the E-PL3's size compared to the larger E-P3...
  14. Blastop

    Blastop Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 20, 2011
    Get the EPL3 (or even EPM1 if you think you can make it without the tiltscreen and other bits), put the difference toward an Oly 45mm lens and a grip and you're way ahead. Don't let minor specs drive you mental, these cameras will all be replaced within 12 months anyway. Heck, Olympus has a big camera announcement for February, at that.

    I'd like to love the G3 or GX1, but the panasonic battery-incompatibility thing drives me a bit crazy. If I have to buy expensive Panasonic batteries, they should at least work on more than one or two cameras! Then they change up the hot-shoe accessory port for the GX1, too - I feel like I'd have to re-buy all my accessories whenever I upgrade, or that nothing would work if I picked up a second body.
  15. mqavila

    mqavila Mu-43 Regular

    Actually, I'll delay my purchasing decision until after Olympus' announcement in a week or two. At best, we might see a price reduction on some of their cameras. :)
  16. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Good idea since the announcement date isn't that far away. People should hold off their purchases to punish companies for constantly releasing teasers through the rumors sites.
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