Olympus E-P3 PEN Digital Camera

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Trendy Micro Four Thirds
Photography Vogue

Olympus E-P3 PEN Digital Camera Combining the classic feeling of a body that's all metal in the trendy Micro Four Thirds photography vogue, Olympus has announced the company's fifth generation of it's Micro Four Thirds cameras. The P3 shows off a familiar-style PEN body and updated 12MP sensor although almost every other feature of the camera is brand new. The latest Olympus flagship PEN highlight what Olympus claims is the speediest AF-S performance in the world, along with a VGA-equivalent 614,000 dot OLED touch-screen with built-in flash.

In addition it can shoot 1080i 60 HD movies in the AVCHD format, their E-P3 PEN Digital Camera.  Highly desired for many reasons, Micro Four Thirds cameras provide an easily transportable body (this one with the look and feel that only a metal body can bring to hand) along with numerous lens options and the features and functions of a full-sized DSLR camera.

The E-P3 has a 12.3Mp Live MOS Sensor and the TruePic VI Image Processor which work together to produce stunningly detailed images at fast speeds. In addition, the camera also has Olympus' FAST AF Tracking System. FAST AF provides 35 focus points along with Tracking AF for fast and accurate focusing on each shot. Other performance considerations include the 12,800 ISO capabilities, an AF Illuminator, and a built-in flash, not to mention blazing shutter speeds with a response time of less than 60 milliseconds.

Still images can be taken using RAW, JPEG, or a combination of the two. And, 3D still images can even be captured as well in the MPO format. Of course, more than a still camera, the E-P3 also captures HD video. You can take up to 29 minutes of 1080/60i video in either AVCHD or AVI formats. No matter, video or still, all files can be stored to external flash memory, including SD, SDHC, SDXC, and UHS-1 cards. Olympus recommends Eye-Fi Class 6 cards for video recording.

The E-P3 has a bountiful set of on-camera controls and menu options, all of which are displayed on the beautiful 3.0" touch screen OLED display. As is one of the hallmarks of the Micro Four Thirds genre, small in size though it may be, the E-P3 is not short on options. Aside from a bevy of metering and exposures modes, the camera also hosts numerous picture modes, art filters, Live Guides, and white balance modes, among others. Your pictures will be truly your own, utilizing the full range of choices presented by the E-P3; you can even choose to shoot in panorama mode. Other highlights worth mentioning include 3 modes of image stabilization, noise reduction, and basic in-camera image editing.

Image Sensor - This E-P3 PEN's 12 megapixel sensor is 3 years old and it absolutely tussles in low light, creating ugly "noise" splotches starting at ISO 1600 . The less costly Panasonic G3 contains an improved 16mp sensor with the ability to shoot spotless photos at ISO 3200. The big issue is the blotchy shadow regions. Photographing at 1600 in bright situations (i.e., to freeze motion or diminish camera shake) results perfectly acceptable pictures. However, I would like to see this camera with Panasonic's 16mp sensor. Odds are this will occur on the EP-4, although we may have a wait until the middle of 2012 to see that.

Expensive. - At $600, the Nikon D3100 is a better value, there's no question. Although you'll sacrifice portability when you buy a digital SLR camera.

Menus - The famous Olympus convoluted menus. To say the least, these menus are frustrating, particularly the "setup" options like selecting the directions in to turn the dials to adjust settings. The camera has a pair of rear dials plus two customizable buttons that may be set for variables like aperture, shutter, and white balance, although not for ISO . You can dedicate the scroll wheel number two down-button for ISO, although at the cost of removing the dedicated 2-second delay button and the single-frame/multi-frame photography.. However, the touch screen seems to be pretty helpful for adjusting settings, including the ISO.

What's Missing? - A screen that articulates plus a built-in electronic viewfinder (those clip-on VF-2 and VF-3 versions are an additional $180 and $250).  Jun 30, 2011 ✓

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