05 Jul

Olympus E-P3 Assess

I really wanted to like this camera. I mean, really. Olympus’ PEN line has often delivered fantastic photo feature in well-designed cameras, albeit with poor performance. But Olympus worked hard on shooting speed, and I figured that if it was fixed, all would be right with the world. But while the company accessibly achieved the performance goals in the PEN E-P3, while maintaining its point and facial appearance strengths, it seems to have taken a step back on photo and video feature. I don’t reckon there’s anything incorrect with the camera that can’t be fixed by a firmware update, but for its high price I guess better photo feature out of the box.

Olympus urban a new sensor for the E-P3 and its latest siblings, ostensibly to achieve higher ISO sensitivities, among other equipment. Yes, it now E-P3goes up to 12,800–but you’ll never want to use it at that level. Without the ability to view the raw files, it’s hard to make a discrimination about the camera’s optimal noise level, and the E-P3 complicates it by non-payment to what I reckon is an overly aggressive noise reduction setting for the JPEGs. The midrange ISO sensitivities of our lab shots look a modest better than in shots taken in the field, but I commonly wouldn’t shoot JPEG additional than ISO 200 with this camera on standard noise reduction, and guesstimate not additional than ISO 800 for raw. You can see the detail start to degrade between ISO 400 and 800, and can spot the color noise at ISO 1600. My out-of-the-box shots at ISO 400 were horribly disappointing, primarily given that I shot them with the high-priced new 12mm lens.

But scaling back the noise reduction to low–or even off–produces much better consequences. The photos are grainier, but it’s not an repellent look and preserves a lot more detail. I believe that shooting raw and dispensation with better noise-reduction software will gain you at least a stop of liberty of grain.Like the noise reduction, the default sharpening seems a bit aggressive to me; it’s sharper than I’d like unless I were going straight to print. It’s a very consumer look that doesn’t be in the right place in a camera of this class. You can scale that back as well, even if. The E-P3′s color rendering looks quite right and pleasantly soaked. It helps that the camera defaults to a neutral image style. By default, the camera seems to underexpose a bit.

A amalgamation of its tendency to underexpose and a flash without a lot of throw (despite a guide digit typical for its class) consequences in very nicely exposed close-up flash shots. Olympus includes a link of useful flash options: you can opt to keep a warm white weigh when shooting with flash in auto WB and you can set it particularly to change to flash WB when using flash.

Even if, Olympus takes a serious misstep when it comes to video. While it ups to full HD, and offers a full set of blue-collar exposure capabilities as well as E-P3help for all the art filters in video, the feature is terrible since of egregious rolling close (wobbling) that appears with the slightest camera movement. (Theme to correction: I was in commission without a blue-collar.) With this camera, Olympus introduced pixel-binning equipment–in this case, combining multiple rows and columns to achieve “better” consequences (maybe to compensate for the fact that the AVCHD video is interlaced?)–to the video dispensation. It’s a practice that’s ordinarily used to boost low-light sensitivity for stills, and I believe it’s the culprit, exacerbating the habitual tendency of the sensor to rolling- close artifacts. I reckon it might be firmware fixable.

One way in which the E-P3 obviously outdoes its predecessors is performance. The enhancement stems from two main enhancements: a new autofocus logic with more AF points, which like Panasonic’s Light Speed drives the sensor at 120 frames per following while focusing for closer pointer, and augmented analogous dispensation. This overcomes two of the largest bottlenecks in everyday shooting performance. Olympus dubs the machinate “FAST” for “Frequency Stepping up Sensor Equipment.”As a consequence, the PEN series has gone from sluggish to one of the fastest in its competitive class–closer overall than all other mirrorless ILCs, about the same as Sony’s fixed-mirror SLTs, and just a bit slower than comparably priced dSLRs like the Nikon D5100 and Canon EOS Rebel T3i. It powers on and shoots in 0.6 following, with an exceptional shot lag of 0.3 following in excellent light and 0.6 following in dim. Shot-to-shot time typically runs 0.7 following (JPEG) to 0.8 following (raw), and enabling flash adds about a following to that.

The only aspect in which the E-P3 lags in the field–and even the E-P2–is for continuous shooting, which runs about 3fps. Even if, this isn’t a camera you buy for shooting proceedings that way; none of the compact-ish models are.

If you’re preparation to upgrade from an older model or cross-grade from a Panasonic, keep in mind that your ancient lenses will require a (free) firmware upgrade in order to take subsidy of these performance enhancements. And it’s well worth it–when switching to the older 17mm f2.8 it reverted to its irritating hunting behavior. In a better-late-than-never go, the simplified AF logic also includes an AF illuminator, which also helps with low-light focusing. I’ve permanently liked Olympus’ dSLR autofocus implementations, and it adds one of my favorite facial appearance to the E-P3: selectable groups of AF areas. There’s also tracking AF, which works well, if not perfectly.Olympus also took the opportunity to restore all its lenses, adding touches like a cover for what used to be an exposed stab mount on the front.

The camera body is about the same size as the E-PL2. With the decrease of the E-PLx models, that makes it the chief model in Olympus’ 2011 team. E-P3Even if it’s still an arresting, well-built all-metal body, the black model at least feels and looks a bit more like plastic than its predecessor and than the other sign. In the box, Olympus includes an discretionary shallow grip that screws in if you don’t like the feel of the flat front, and you’ll be able to buy a deeper grip as well–that should make shooting with longer or first Four Thirds lenses a modest more comfortable.

Olympus updates the camera with a 3-inch OLED touch-cover sight. It’s a very nice LCD–sharp and soaked, fingerprint-proof, and you can point out whether to sight sign as natural or vivid. The company redesigned the user interface to take subsidy of the higher-pledge sight, but it’s commonly the same as in previous models. Even if it’s a touch cover, only part of the interface takes subsidy of it–touch close and the Live Guide interface. The latter allows you to change infiltration, warmth, brightness, close speed, and gap via onscreen sliders. The Live Guide is now available in all modes, not just auto, but I can’t see it really fitting with the buyer of this camera.

The camera retains the solid control layout of its predecessor. The top reins are pretty austere: a basic mode dial and programmable gathering button. Even if there’s a movie choice on the mode dial, you don’t need to be in the mode to shoot video. Similarly, the art filters are available via the quick menus on the cover, so you don’t have to use the dedicated mode.

There’s now a movie confirmation button on the back; it’s in a excellent place for thumb-based surgical course of action, but in order to preclude accidental presses there’s a lip nearly it which makes it hard to press, even intentionally. Olympus has dropped the dedicated autoexposure/AF lock button, and I miss it. There are now two customizable gathering buttons, but I reckon they carry too much of the interface burden. For wits, in order to use custom settings you’ve got to assign them to an Fn button, and hold the button down while shooting. So in order to shoot with a custom burst set (one Fn button) plus a JPEG override for raw+JPEG (the other Fn button), I ran out of fingers.

That said, the camera has a solid creative figure set, counting 7-shot bracketing, multiple exposures, a fantastic set of art filters that get increasingly customizable (and can now be bracketed), and the ability to change the tone curve for highlights and darkness unconnectedly previous to shooting. With Eye-Fi and its own PenPal help for wireless and geotagging, the only thing I can reckon of it lacks (surrounded by wits) is an intervalometer and an articulated sight.

For what it delivers, the E-P3 is quite high-priced–primarily since the new E-P3models expected in the fall are supposed to have the same performance and sensor. Even if they’re not as quick, they’ll doubtless be quick enough. Once I get raw software and if Olympus maybe tweaks the defaults I may boost the image rating and the camera might rise in my estimation. But if you’re looking for a sleek model that delivers superb image feature, spend the extra $200 on a Fujifilm X100; if you instead want to solid step up from a point-and-shoot, I’d wait and see what arrives in the following half of the year.

Olympus PEN E-P3 excellent:

The Olympus PEN E-P3 is an perfectly designed camera that’s now one of the fastest in its class.

Olympus PEN E-P3 terrible:

Poor video feature and suboptimal default image settings aren’t that fantastic, so you really need to shoot raw to get excellent consequences at midrange to high ISO sensitivities.

Olympus PEN E-P3 underside line:

While the Olympus PEN E-P3 shoots out in front of its class for performance and holds its own on facial appearance and point, it’s a bit high-priced and you’ll need to tweak its JPEG settings to get the most out of its descriptions.

Olympus PEN E-P3 Price: $899

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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in cameras


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