Olympus E-PL3 Review

4.0
August 29, 2011 | Gavin Stoker |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12.3 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

As they serve as a point of difference from the other compact system cameras - though admittedly Panasonic serves up some very similar effects on its Lumix G series under different names - we always find ourselves utilsing the Art Filter effects on the digital Pen series, and the E-PL3 is no exception. As we noted in the main text, pinhole and dramatic tone, for us, are the two of the six here the most worth using, though pop art can be fun to accentuate already bright colours in a scene and turn a photo taken on a drab day into something more visually arresting. The diorama option we found less successful, and results with this mode selected were hit and miss. As ever, experimentation is key.

The same goes for using the standard kit zoom, which is a jack of all trades tool as adept at helping the user achieve shallow depth of field effects as it is shoehorning more expansive landscapes or cityscapes into frame. OK, so results aren't going to challenge the average DSLR in terms of sharpness and clarity of detail, but for most they will certainly be good enough, especially with a tweak for brightness and contrast, which after all can be achieved in camera in Live Guide mode.

Again, when bumping up the ISO and shooting in low light, one is only going to reach for top whack ISO 12800 setting if an image that's impressionistic rather than photorealistic is your goal - though in truth it could work quite well for a moody black and white shot at a rock gig. Stick to ISO 6400, which was previously the highest selectable setting on an Olympus Pen, if you want a result that actually looks like a photograph, and one worth saving.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Olympus E-PL3. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting, with JPEG on the left and the RAW equivalent on the right:

JPEG

RAW

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes by changing the Picture Modes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Flash

Here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the On or the Red-eye Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

On

On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Olympus E-PL3 lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 60 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times as long as 30 minutes, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 13 seconds at ISO 200. We've included a 100% crop to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 12 megapixel, compact system camera, csc, RAW, olympus, DSLR, micro four thirds, 1080i, tilting, EVF, compact system, PEN, lite, e pl3, epl3, e-pl3, Olympus E-PL3 Review, epl 3

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