Jun 01

Meet my new camera: OLYMPUS PEN Lite E-PL3

You might have read my previous post about the upcoming trip to Canada. One thing I will do there for sure is taking pictures. I was meaning to upgrade my camera, which is a Panasonic Lumix TZ7 (the name for the American market most likely differs). This is a really nice camera and for its compact size I think the quality of the pictures is really good. Nevertheless I somehow wanted to step it up a notch. I wanted exchanable lenses, but still a smaller form factor than a DSLR.

Olympus makes digital cameras?

That might sound a bit naive, but for a long time I did not even know Olympus was making cameras. Maybe I just did not care enough about the whole camera thing, but yes, they do make cameras. And let me tell you, some really nice ones, too.

I think I have to thank Adam Jackson for hints on the type of camera I could like. Adam takes great pictures and shares them on his flickr account. He uses the Olympus PEN E-PL2 with different lenses and highly recommends the camera, too. Of course it is always up to the photographer to get the best out of a camera, but I needed someone to recommend a camera or at least what cameras to look at and his blog was one of the first I found / stumbled over.

The Olympus PEN E-PL3

So the day came when I needed to make a buying decision. I did not want to base that decision on just one guy (who would do that) so I went out and checked photography magazines, blogs, photography communities, online customer reviews and asked a couple of friends that are into photography for their opinion. The more advanced recommended going for a DSLR right away. As those cameras are kinda big and heavy they were no real option for me. All I wanted was a small(ish) camera that had the possibility to change the lense. Therefore nobody said to not go for the PEN and as there was a somewhat good offer for a kit containing two lenses on Amazon I ordered it:

  • Olympus PEN E-PL3
  • 14-42mm M.ZUIKO f3.5-5.6
  • 40-150mm M.ZUIKO f4.0-5.6
  • 16 GB memory
  • second battery

As reliable as Amazon is the package arrived at my place a couple of days later and I was anxious to unpack the camera. I was a little surprised by the size of the smaller lense, to take pictures you actually have to zoom in a little bit to ’unlock’ it. Other than that the surprises were more than positive. The camera is solid and does not feel like a cheap plastic thing but like a well manufactured piece of hardware. Putting it around your neck, it feels kinda heavy at first, but I quickly got used to that. The quality of the pictures the camera makes when using the Auto mode is – at least for me – a big improvement from my last camera. Changing the lenses is as easy as it could be and as stable as it should be. One thing with the lenses is that their lid is not attached to them by a string or something similar. In that way they could easily be lost when not taking care of them.

As a picture tells more than a thousand words, here are a few shots. Keep in mind I am still new to photography and those pictures are not processed in photoshop or anything similar, they are straight from the camera (and resized to better fit into this blog post).

To find more pictures taken with a PEN E-PL3 take a look at this flickr search. You can use that to find out about other cameras, too. I think this is a great way to see what a camera can and can not do. Actually, that search only works for the E-PL2, but you get the idea. Weird, I thought I used that search for the E-PL3, too. Sorry about that.

Other cameras I considered

When buying such an item you should neb just look at one piece of hardware. I took a look at several other models and manufacturerers before making the final buying decision. Here is a list of the other final decision round cameras:

  • Nikon 1 (dismissed due to limit on available lenses)
  • Olympus PEN E-PL2 (cheaper than the 3, yet I decided to go with the current model)

Every camera had there pros and cons. To be honest I am not quite sure if I would see a difference in the pictures if I went for a different camera. So I am now a happy Olympus user.


I definately recommend this camera, it is a great piece of hardware that takes great pictures. The number of lenses one could get for the camera is near endless. At least that is my impression as a photography newbie. I am so far using only the two stock lenses but a pancake lense is definately on the list of addons I have.

I will take this camera on a 3 week camping trip and after that I am sure I can give you more pictures and a better look into how it is using the camera every day. So stay tuned!

What’s your photography equipment?

This is your chance to tell me about your camera setup. What brand / model / form factor do you prefer and why? If you have a flickr account or something similar where I can check out some of your pictures, please let me know.

Thanks for reading and atay tuned for some fine Canada camping trip pictures.

Tags: e-pl3, olympus, pen, photography, pictures