Olympus PEN E-P3 review

Could the PEN really be mightier?

Olympus PEN E-P3
The PEN P3 is the first Olympus PEN to feature a touchscreen

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There is plenty to like about the Olympus PEN E-P3. Although at 12.3 million, the effective pixel count isn't the highest, the rest of the specification is impressive with all the current must have features, including sensor-shifting image stabilization, sensor cleaning, manual exposure control, automated shooting, Art Filters and Full HD video recording.

The P3 is also well made and comfortable to hold with sensibly arranged controls and lots of opportunity to customize it to the user's preferences. All this means that while inexperienced users should be able to pick up the camera and start shooting straight away, enthusiasts have all the control they want and can set-up it up to suit their style.

We liked

The extensive range of control and the excellent quality output at low sensitivity. Although it is an expensive extra, keeping the electronic viewfinder (EVF) as an optional extra means that the camera is smaller and lighter than it would be with a viewfinder built-in.

We disliked

High sensitivity images lack detail and can only be used at a small size. The tone adjustment feature is rather hidden, but very effective.


This is the first time that Olympus has used a touchscreen in a compact system camera and on the whole it has been well implemented, but it would be nice to be able to choose to make settings adjustments (other than the Live Guide options) using it.

At around £200, the optional electronic viewfinder for the P3 isn't cheap, but by not including one in the camera body, Olympus has been able to keep the price of the P3 down and maintain its rectangular, compact camera-like form. It also means that when the new improved EVF that we have been promised comes along next year, users will be able to upgrade to a better unit rather than have to go to the expense of buying a completely new camera.

Those who don't want a viewfinder, will find that the P3's OLED screen provides a very clear view in many situations.

Provided the sensitivity is kept below ISO 3200, the P3 produces superb images, that are well exposed, have lots of sharp detail and pleasant colours.