I’ve had my eye on the Micro 4/3 cameras for a while now. When Olympus released the E-P1 a few years ago it was hard to resist to cool retro styling and the promise of “DSLR quality” in a small package. All of the reviews complained about the SLOW auto focus and the less than awesome image quality. So I waited…
Jump ahead to 2011 and Olympus released the third series of their Digital Pen cameras. The E-P3 promised faster (wicked fast) auto focus, new processor, better image quality and still the cool retro style metal body. I couldn’t resist any longer!
I plan to document my experience with the new Olympus PEN E-P3 here on the blog. Hopefully this new machine will fill a role that my equipment list is lacking: My Nikon D3S is an AMAZING camera, but it is huge. Not to mention the fast full-frame glass that goes with it. My Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 is a great pocket camera, but you’re not exactly going to make 16″x20″ prints from the JPEG’s it captures. I’m hoping the E-P3 bridges the gap. It has the same 12mp resolution as the D3s, but with a smaller sensor so the high ISO performance won’t match up. I’m hoping the image quality at lower ISO settings is more than adequate. The sensor in the E-P3 is something like ten times the size of the sensor in the TS-3, so that’s really no contest. With a wide selection of good lenses from Olympus, Panasonic and a few others it looks to be a promising system for a good all-around “travel camera”.
I have only had the chance to shoot a little bit since I got the new Oly. I have the 14-42mm “kit” zoom lens and the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 prime. Micro 4/3 cameras have a 2x crop factor, so a 45mm lens has the same field of view as a 90mm lens on a full-frame camera. My main concerns about image quality are for landscape shooting. Can the E-P3 capture enough detail for shots like the one above? So far I would say YES! I was pleasantly surprised with the detail and sharpness when I processed the above 5-shot HDR image. The live exposure preview on the LCD while you are shooting makes exposure decisions fairly simple. It even has a live clipping warning so you can decide when you might want to bracket for an HDR image.
I am going to shoot a lot with this little guy this fall and I will be posting my impressions along the way. There are lots of places on the web to find the tech specs and detailed reviews. I’m writing more what I like and don’t like in real-world use. So far I’m finding a lot to like!