The E-P3 is a stunning looking camera with a retro appeal
When I first laid my hands on the new Olympus E-P3 and 17mm lens I just wanted to like it. The look and feel of the solidly built metal body oozes a similar quality to the Fuji X100. In some ways, it feels more substantial and robust than the X100 and is certainly a better experience to handle than the Leica X1. High praise indeed.
On a purely aesthetic note the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. I think that Fuji and Leica got it right with the quality of the packaging for the X100 and X1. When you opened the boxes of those cameras you felt like you had bought into a prestigious product. Okay, those boxes would eventually find there way into a cupboard to collect dust but it is a an indicator of the quality of the product within and pride of ownership. The P-3 with lens is similar in price to the X100 – exceeding the cost of the number of DSLR’s. . To me, as the flagship in the range , it should receive some special treatment.
The top of the camera is simple and functional
Putting this to one side and accepting that packaging is merely a side issue to the quality of what is actually contained in the box let’s move onto the camera itself.
To say that it is crammed with features is an understatement. 10 art filters each with subtle adjustments, 24 scene modes, various display configurations, 3 function buttons and a beautiful OLED touchscreen to name but a few.
To those who are less likely to tweak or see these extras as getting in the way of taking a good photograph something simpler like the X100 may appeal. Having said all this once the camera is set up to how you like it, other than having a play with the filters, you can snap away confident in the knowledge that the E-P3 is going to nail the exposure right each time. It has an uncanny ability of being able to do this better than a lot of other cameras I have used.
The E-P3 is capable of capturing stunning images
Focussing is also lightning quick and extremely accurate. The touchscreen is a little gimmicky and I did not enjoy this on the Lumix G3 as I feel you introduce too much movement in the camera to get an acceptably sharp image. It is also difficult on the G3 to operate the camera without using the touchscreen. The E-P3 is different as all controls can be accessed through the buttons and dials with the touchscreen adding the tactile functionality if you want to use it.
Swiping through the photos you have taken though is fun, for example, providing an almost Apple type experience. The screen is very responsive in this regard.
Video quality is okay although I rarely use this function. I tried it a couple of times and as long as you kept fairly still with no excessive panning (too much of the “jello” effect otherwise) then for a quick video the results are fine.
The Grainy Film Art Filter gives a very interesting look
So as an alternative to a big DSLR it is to me a winner. So long as you keep the ISO at 800 or less (there is too much noise above this level) I cannot see how you would be disappointed with the image quality. The art filters are fun (although I would prefer it if the camera kept an unfiltered copy too for one’s own post processing experiments) and handling is straightforward.
All in all highly recommended and easily the best CSC I have used to date.