Pen, Pen Lite or what?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by mazg, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. mazg

    mazg Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Hoping for a little advice. I currently own a Nikon D7000 and several lenses. I have been a Nikon user for about 8 years but have found that I am no longer carrying my camera with me because of the weight of my f/2.8 zooms. I now realize that I am missing capturing memories of my kids because I often have nothing but my iphone with me.

    So I decided to sell off some of my least used lenses to try out a 4/3 system. For me the Olympus seems to fit, I like the look, size, compatibility with Panasonic and I have owned two Oly cameras before that I loved (including the film XA which I grew up with) and hear wonderful things about the quality.

    So I find myself looking at the E-P3 ($699), E-PL5 ($599), E-PM2 ($499). I haven't seen a live OM-D E-M5 but it looks like it might be a bit more size wise and $$ than I want to spend on just the camera body w/kit lens at this point (same with the E-P5 although I'd love one).

    I am willing to pay up to $700 with kit lens, then I plan to extend into the 40-150 zoom, 45 1.8 oly and 20 1.7 panasonic to go with the kit lens.

    So questions:
    Should I be considering the E-P3 at all? I'm sure it was top of the line once, but the sensor is older and the image quality better from the newer ones. Is that a fair statement?

    Beside the mode dial (I almost always shoot in A mode), what would i miss on the E-PM2?

    Thanks for your insight.
  2. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    I would definitely skip Ep3 unless you really like that form factor . You don't want viewfinder ? I am guessing that's why you are not considering Panasonic models ?
  3. uscrx

    uscrx Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2011
    Shasta Cascade
    E-P3 can be had for much cheaper. Around $250-$400 range for a nice used one.

    I've had P1 and and still have P2 and recently added PM2.

    Looked at P3 really hard but ultimately, I wanted more megapixels.

    What I do miss is a larger body. There's a fair size difference between P3 and PM2 with PM2 being smaller. Also, P3 has a built in flash but PM2 comes with an external flash. As far as functionality and buttons, took me a half day to get used to PM2 buttons... no real difference imo. And I mostly shoot in Aperture mode with constant tweaking of iso and aperture.

    Touch screen shutter actuation is awesome on PM2.

    I don't have fancy m43 lenses yet..just a kit panasonic 14-45mm, Pansonic 14mm and Oly 40-150mm.

    Unfortunately/fortunately, I'm getting better pictures with m43 than my fancy Canon DSLR.
  4. verbatimium

    verbatimium Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 17, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario
    Real Name:
    Skip the P3 (old sensor) and go with the PL5. Not much larger than the PM2 (and not much more expensive), but you get the articulating screen which I find I use quite often for angled shots. With the PL5 you get the best sensor that Olympus has (meaning same image quality of the P5 and the OMD). I actually recently also switched from a D7000 to the PL5 after realizing that in a lot of situations I would not bring my DSLR because it's too bulky/heavy. I am not missing the Nikon at all, and the PL5 has actually gotten my interest back into photography, so now I find that I am planning trips JUST to take pictures.

    If you find that you are missing your viewfinder during very bright days, you can always add one later (the VF2 is a very nice EVF that now can be had relatively cheaply because the VF4 recently came out).
  5. Uncle Frank

    Uncle Frank Photo Enthusiast

    Jul 26, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    I'm a d700 owner who has complemented my big rig with a u4/3 system. I've owned several u4/3 camera bodies (Olympus pl2, Olympus em5, Olympus ep3, Panasonic g5), and have sold all but the ep3. It's a full featured metal body, with the important items accessible through dials and buttons rather than menu diving. I like its big lcd, and it feels great in my hands.

    Here's a few shots from last week's outing.

    Birthday Girl

    Ominous Skies


    Sleeping in Seattle

    Serious Child

    We must be kindred spirits, as my lens kit (20/1.7, 45/1.8, 40-150) is right in line with your long range plan. I don't feel the "old 12MP sensor" is holding me back at all, though I'm lusting for some of the advanced features of the ep5 and gx7.

    Since this is your first entry into the u4/3 world, I'd suggest saving some big money by getting a gently used copy. To realize the potential of the platform, I'd pass on the kit lens and start off with the 20/1.7. I'd also recommend you include the vf-2 viewfinder in your shopping list.

    I'll be upgrading to an ep5 kit in the near future, and will list my ep3 + vf2 + 20/1.7 + 2 extra batteries, and the large grip... all for $100 less than the $699 you've quoted for the ep3 + kit lens. Look for that kind of deal in our Buy & Sell forum. They come up regularly.
  6. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Real Name:
    Ditto on what Uncle Frank said about old sensors. I was thinking I'd really steer you to the newer generations Pens - the E-PL5's flip screen does wonders with shooting kids - but if you want to try out m43, the old sensors offer you the best bang for the buck -- as long as you know what you are getting. I still have an E-PL3 (but seriously thinking abut an OM-D or E-PL5) which I've had for some time now, and that body + the P20 and O45 lenses still produce wonderful images given good light.
  7. gochugogi

    gochugogi Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2013
    Oahu, gathering place of many cars
    Real Name:
    Peter Gunn
    The E-P3 was on closeout at Adorama and Amazon this summer for close to $200 as was the GX1. Both are great cameras at that bargain price. I love shooting with my E-P3 and don't find the 12MP sensor limiting in the least and, in fact, is perfect for the causal use it mainly gets (replaced my iPhone & S90).

    However, if the old stock dries up and you have to spend the big bucks, you might as well get a current model. I'd spring for the E-P5 kit with VF-4 and 17mm f/1.8. The E-PL5 is nice but I'd miss the popup flash for a causal use camera. Since I have plenty of cameras, l plain to wait another 18 months for the end of product life sale on the E-P5 and pick it up for a few benjamins. I paid $900 for the E-P3 kit two years ago and now it's 1/4 that price so I figure the E-P5 will go that direction in a year or two.

    My GX1 has a newer 16MP sensor but low light performance is basically the same as the 12MP sensor. Just a wee bit higher rez. I like using the E-P3 a lot more.
  8. mazg

    mazg Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Thanks guys. I found an E-P3 today for $599 locally (still the same price as the E-PL5). I am not looking at Panasonic because I like the in body stabilization. I've lost a lot of DSLR shots because of hand shake so it really appeals to me.

    Steven, yes I'd like an EVF. I begrudge having to fork over $200 for one :(
    USCRX, touch screen is awesome, I think i'll use it for focusing especially.
    Verbatimium, I hear ya! Yes I'll add an EVF later.
    Uncle Frank, I recognize you from the Nikon forums back from my D50 days. Your shots are awesome! We are definitely thinking alike.
    Hyubie, nothing much in the used market in my area, i missed a P1 last week.
    Gochugogi, by the time I import into canada (with shipping and taxes) the price goes up so I'm looking at the national/Canada market only.

    I am really committed (without trying a real camera) to the switch. I've already sold off 3 of my Nikon 7 lenses (my fund is currently $900).

    I also found an OM-D E-M5 with 12-50 lens for $1150. Can anyone comment on that lens vs. the 14-42? I'm just wondering....
  9. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Real Name:
    Doug Green
    At those prices, I'd get the E-PL5 - but if you can get a pristine mint E-P3 body for less than $300, it becomes a contender. To me, someone going from a pretty sophisticated enthusiast-level DSLR like a D7000 would find the controls on the E-PM2 to be frustratingly sparse. You'd miss being able to adjust ISO and aperture with direct controls, rather than having to go into the menus to do it.

    Basically, the E-P3 has better controls, the E-PL5 will have better IQ. Right now, that's your choice. I would also say that you should add the Panasonic G5 into your selection choices. It IQ that's better than an E-P3, and for someone used to DSLRs, control ergonomics that are better than the E-PL5, and you can get them REALLY cheap right around now (less than $300 for the body), since it's been superceded by the Panasonic G6, which is probably just slightly outside of your price range.

    You can get the telephotos from Panasonic with their own IS built in, so it's really not much of a sacrifice having no IBIS on wide to normal lenses - IMHO, the only place you'd miss IBIS is if you shoot manual legacy Nikkor glass and/or the Oly 45mm. But there are other choices.
  10. mazg

    mazg Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Hi Doug
    Do you mean the G5KK? It's $599 locally sale priced. I skipped over it because of size although i'm seeing the benefit of EVF, flash, dials... I might go back and compare to the OM-D E-M5 and PM2 (no E-PL5 at that store).

    What controls does the E-P3 have that the E-PL5 doesn't? I don't know enough about the E-P3.

  11. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Real Name:
    Doug Green
    I can't speak for British Columbia, but there have been TONS of deals on the G5 recently in the US, - one that just went away was Roberts selling the G5 bodies NEW for $240 US. I personally bought a pristine mint G5 body for $289 about 2 months ago, and that's higher than they go for now used in mint condition.

    I might suggest that you look at the writeups of the cameras you are researching on DPReview where they go over the control layout of each. But as a rule of thumb, the E-P series have one additional control wheel than the E-PL series, which allows direct control over more things simultaneously, such as ISO and Aperture, Shutter and Aperture, etc. With one fewer control, more switching back and forth is required. The G5 has one direct control wheel, but when you push it in, it takes on the features of the second control wheel.
  12. BSH

    BSH Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 18, 2012
    The Pen (EP3, EP5) has dual control wheels, whereas the Lite has one and the mini has none. For my taste, I must have two controls. As I have it set up, one wheel is aperture, and one is shutter, whether it's on M, S, or A.

    I rather think if you're familiar with DSLR shooting and prefer the viewfinder, you'd be better off with the EM5. They're coming down in price, and deals can be found, including used. You could come in at or close to what you want to spend. The Pen is much more like a P&S when used without the external viewfinder; the EM5 might be a better fit for your comfort zone.

    The 12-50 lens is s-l-o-w, but it's weather sealed and is good quality.
  13. mazg

    mazg Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Thanks for the continued feedback. The EP3 is now $499 (I found a demo model) but I wasn't feeling the love. It seemed sluggish when I hit the shutter button, I definitely felt a delay.

    I really am starting to lean towards the EM5. It appears you can't go wrong with that choice, it is the standard by which everything else is measured, unfortunately at $1120 with kit lens its more than I hoped to spend. I've only heard good things and it's still substantially smaller than the D7000.

    I also enjoyed the panasonic G5 recommended above (yes I know this is the Oly forum), I can get that model for $520 with *free* 16GB card.

    So now it's decision time, the G5 is 1/2 the price of the OM5. Is it half the camera?
  14. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    The Lumix 12-35 & 35-100 constant ƒ2.8 zooms are considerably smaller & lighter than the Nikon constant ƒ2.8 ones....

    Perhaps you might consider those....:cloud-9-039:
  15. mazg

    mazg Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Just thought I'd add an update. Yesterday I purchased the Panasonic G5 with 14-42 kit and the 20 1.7. I'm still playing with the camera but I couldn't justify the 2x price of the Oly OMD and I didn't like the feel of it (without the grip). The G5 felt like "home" in my hands.

    Thanks for the advice, particularly Doug who got me onto the camera in the first place.
  16. blueeyedpop

    blueeyedpop Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 17, 2013
    Agoura Hills, CA
    Real Name:
    I have a D800 and two nice zooms at work I can borrow anytime I like. I choose to shoot the E-P3 and the E-PL1 (infrared) because of the mass. Not the same image quality as the nikon, but still love the E-P3.

    saw the E-P3 + 17mm f2.8 for $300 new on newegg. hard to go wrong with that.
  17. mazg

    mazg Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Considering the E-M5... thoughts on 12-50 please

    I'm back again - my G5 kit lens is not good. I have to return the camera and order another online as there isn't another one in my town.

    So, I'm re-considering my choices as I'd prefer to buy locally rather than online and there are no other EVF Panasonics in my town and this is my preference). I have found an E-M5 for $840 body only or with kit 12-50 for $1050.

    I have already purchased the Pana 45-150 and the 20 1.7. Now I'm questioning my need for the 12-50 especially as I am reading that it might not be as good as other options (like the Pana 14-45).

    So the question is: is the kit lens worth the extra $210? Would I be better to purchase the 14-45 for $299?
  18. edwardconde

    edwardconde Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you are looking at the OM-D.. go to they have refurbs for $749. comes with a 90day Oly warranty plus a 1yr Cameta warranty.. which is honored by OLY.

    The other option is look in the marketplace. A lot of m43 owners take care of their gear. This way you help out the community of users.. just a thought..
  19. dejongj

    dejongj Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 3, 2013
    Whipsnade, UK
    Real Name:
    My D7000 was stolen with its 24-70f2.8 and grip attached. I took the opportunity to downsize there after. So sold my 70-200vr etc...

    I decided on the Olympus PEN E-P5, yes I spend the same money on that as to be fair the D7000 was when I bought that, as was the D70 when I bought that before it...

    I tried it in my local camera shop before hand back in May during an Olympus road event, together with other models. The two control wheels are just like the Nikon, and in exactly the right place. This provides some excellent controls, and to me it is in a much better location than the OMD, and not as toy like in feel like my G6. It is very assured.

    Then there is the focus speed, as the OP will know if he had Nikon 2.8 glass...Nikon was just point click and bang....focus was sorted and spot on...Well the E-P5 is like that. In the shop I tried it with the 17mm and the 75mm and both were great and instant. With my kit, the 17mm has not disappointed. As the moment I wanted a zoom like the 70-200 again, so I bought the panasonic 35-100 f2.8 over the 75mm for now...And it is brilliant, so fast, so accurate, and lovely colours. Balances really nicely with the E-P5.

    Then there is the viewfinder, wow...The VF4 is fantastic...However saying that, so is the rear screen. What I really like, especially on the street is flip it in waist level finder mode....And then it is great not to have the EVF attached...EVF is great for precision and high light, but actually to my surprise I use it a lot less than I thought...

    And then there is focus peaking...I do have some old AF-G and AIS Nikon glass. Well let me tell you one thing, with the focus peaking feature of the PEN E-P5 I get more use out of those than I did before. It is really good.

    One advantage the D7000 had was its metering capabilities with old non AF-S glass. That allowed it to work out a better value proposition than entry models as some of those lenses can be had very cheaply. I would argue that focus peaking also allows you to have fund with quality manual lenses for pennies/cents and get excellent results...

    Then again I would just spend the money and get the 35-100 and 12-35 and be over and done with it :)
  20. BLT

    BLT Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2013
    Real Name:
    Regarding Panasonic VS Olympus - The Olympus JPEGs are much nicer. As a JPEG shooter I prefer Olympus cameras from my experiences.

    I think that having been a DSLR user you will likely find the E-PM2 a pain. With far too few buttons.

    I think you asked the difference between the E-P3 & E-PL5 . . . other than sensor . . . The PL5 has a smaller but articulating screen, and 1 less dial and a couple less buttons.