Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 review

The new downsized PEN CSC boasts an extremely fast autofocus system

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Olympus pen lite e pl3

The loss of some the previously-mentioned much-loved features seen on the previous Olympus PEN Lite E-PL2 may grate on some existing E-PL2 owners and potential E-PL3 upgraders' nerves.

Only you can decide whether the tilting screen, new sensor and faster performance are enough to justify upgrading to the E-PL3, particularly so soon after the initial launch of the E-PL2, just over six months prior to this new model's introduction.

The asking price of £549.99 at the time of the camera's launch has already dropped on the high street, with a price tag closer to the £500 mark if you shop around online.

Your hard-earned cash does bag you the 14-24mm kit lens, plus that flash unit that's missing from the camera body itself. So, taking into account the features and the superb build quality that the E-PL3 has to offer, we're inclined to say it's worth the money.

The E-PL3 looks stylish and feels like it's really built to last. Plenty of beginner-friendly features are on hand to get you started, with the full complement of manual controls available once your skills develop, so it'll grow with you.

The new AF system is nothing short of excellent and – overall – this camera puts in a good performance in terms of image quality.

We liked

The simple interface, fast AF performance and tilting LCD add to the user-friendliness, responsiveness and versatility of the E-PL3.

The stylish design and metal finish combine to produce a solid, good-looking camera.

We disliked

Noise at the upper end of its ISO sensitivity range means the camera would benefit from being coupled with a faster lens to get the best shots in low light.

There also aren't many differences when compared to the older E-PL2, so potential upgraders may be put off.

The lack of built-in flash means you have to invest in an external one to improve low-light performance.

Final verdict

Putting the previously mentioned, potentially contentious issues aside for a moment, there's no doubting that Olympus has succeeded in creating a mini-marvel with the PEN Lite E-PL3.

It's beautifully engineered, stylish and puts in a blisteringly quick performance. As a compact system camera in its own right, we have to say it offers one of the best user experiences we've encountered to date, and as such we'd happily recommend it to a budding enthusiast in search of lightweight alternative to an entry-level DSLR.