Touting itself as the micro four-thirds camera with the fastest autofocus on the market today, Olympus’ new PEN E-P3 features a bright, 614,000-pixel, high-resolution OLED touch screen. In addition, Olympus released the PEN E-PL3, which is essentially a shrunken version of the E-P3: a more portable point-and-shoot — yet flexible — interchangeable lens camera with a swivel LCD screen.
The E-P3 is outfitted with a FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) autofocus tracking system and 35 focus points, and a 60-millisecond shutter response time. Selectable 3x3 focal groups within the 35-point area can also be set when shooting active subjects.
This model, as well as the subsequent two PEN models, has 12.3-megapixel resolution and the ability to shoot 3D photos in all formats, from macro to landscape.
Unlike the other two PEN cameras released this season, the E-P3 comes with a built-in flash and has gained a rotational dial, a subdial and two new buttons on the back — all designed to increase the speed at which users can tweak the settings.
Video-wise, the E-P3 captures up to 29 minutes of 1080i HD video, AC3 Dolby Digital audio (comparable to studio recordings) and in-camera movie (and still) filters including diorama, pop art, soft focus, pale and light color, light tone, grainy film, pinhole, cross process, gentle sepia and dramatic tone.
For the PEN E-PL3, notable tech specs include 5-fps continuous shooting speed, 12.3-megapixel resolution and extreme low-light shooting with ISO 12800.
For added versatility, PL-3 can be used with the new VF-3 electronic viewfinder accessory that expands and enhances composition. With the viewfinder, photographers will have the option to hold the camera up to their eye to gain a 100 percent accurate field of view. The downside is that this viewfinder comes as a separate attachment and costs an extra $179.
The E-P3 body with MSC M.Zuiko Digital ED m17mm f2.8 prime lens has an estimated street price of $899.
The E-PL3 and the lower-end E-PM1 cameras can also be rigged out with an accessory flash. This midline model comes bundled with either a wide-angle zoom M.Zuiko 14-42mm lens (28mm-84mm equivalent), optimized for fast autofocus (AF) and silent AF operation, or the M. Zuiko 17mm ultra-compact wide-angle pancake lens, both selling for $699.