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Olympus PEN E-PL3 14-42mm 12.3 MP Mirrorless Digital Camera with CMOS Sensor and 3x Optical Zoom (Black)

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54 customer reviews
| 15 answered questions

List Price: $399.00
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From the experts at DPReview
Overall score: 72%
See review summary and sample images
What is DPReview and its awards?

Digital Photography Review is the most popular dedicated enthusiast digital photography site on the Internet. Our authoritative reviews have earned us the trust of photographers and camera buyers all over the world, for more than 15 years.

Gold and Silver Awards are given to products that deserve special recognition based on how well they perform relative to their competitors at the time of review.

  • M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Micro 4/3 Zoom (Black)
  • Flash FL-LM1
  • USB/Video Multi Cable
  • BLS-1 Lithium-Ion Battery
  • BCS-1 Lithium-Ion Battery Charger
11 new from $247.00 1 refurbished from $235.00

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  • Olympus PEN E-PL3 14-42mm 12.3 MP Mirrorless Digital Camera with CMOS Sensor and 3x Optical Zoom (Black)
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Technical Details

Review summary from DPReview

DPReview Silver Award September 2011
The E-PL3 is a small, light, pleasingly-designed camera that handles well and makes everyday picture-taking a fast, intuitive process.
Amadou Diallo Amadou Diallo Richard Butler Richard Butler Barney Britton Barney Britton


The Olympus E-PL3 offers ample external control points, a tilting LCD screen, and fast AF performance along with high image quality in a small, stylish package. Although the complexity of the menu system may require an initial learning curve for new users, the E-PL3 is a pleasant-handling and very well-specified camera that can capture excellent images with a minimum of fuss.

Reasons to buy

  • Very good low ISO image quality and resolution
  • Fast and responsive operation
  • Fast, accurate autofocus
  • Attractive styling and solid, metal construction

Things to consider

  • High ISO noise performance lagging behind competitors
  • Overly aggressive default noise filter setting for JPEG output
  • Digital IS for video capture can introduce unnatural-looking footage
  • Size and positioning of control dial makes its use somewhat awkward

Suggested for

Compact-camera users looking to upgrade to vastly improved image quality and easy access to manual controls

Not suggested for

Sports or fast action shooters who demand precise AF tracking and DSLR enthusiasts who prefer the solid feel of a hand grip
Poor Excellent
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (RAW)
Image quality (JPEG)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
Scoring is relative only to the other products in the same category.
DPReview is the world’s most popular dedicated enthusiast digital photography website. Since 1998 its mission has remained unchanged: to deliver the best reviews of cameras and lenses anywhere on the Internet, and help you find the right gear for your needs.

Product Description

Color: Black

Product Description

The E-PL3 Digital Camera with 14-42mm Lens gets you out and shooting from day one with both the camera body and the lens, not to mention, other useful accessories. Perhaps you're a die-hard Micro Four Thirds fan or you're simply looking for more versatility than a point-and-shoot can provide but without the weight of a DSLR rig. If either of these applies to you, you're in the right place.

This E-PL3 comes with an mZuiko MSC Digital ED m14-42mm f3.5/5.6 zoom lens. You can start shooting from day one with everything you need to make great photos. Using the Micro Four Thirds Mount, however, you can add any of the compatible lenses to the E-PL3 to customize the camera for the shooting you plan to do. In addition to the included lens, the camera also comes with an external flash for low light photography and a host of other essential accessories.

  • Expandable System - A range of interchangeable lenses, accessories and strobes are compatible with the E-PL3 to support all different types of photography needs.
  • Fast Shutter Response - Never miss a shot again with the E-PL3's fast shutter response time of less than 60 milliseconds. The TruePic VI feature allows for reduced shot-to-shot time by shortening the black-out time between shots.
  • Accessory Port - The E-PL3 incorporates a port for connecting accessories including flashes, PENPAL

From the Manufacturer



You love preserving memories, but you’re ready for more creativity.
More control. More options for capturing unforgettable images. The E-PL3 inspires innovation and is perfect for those who require a versatile, portable camera filled with advanced yet easy-to-use creative technologies. Its high-resolution 3” articulating LCD features a new interface that makes it easy to access the effects you want from any angle.


The new 12.3 megapixel Live MOS sensor is optimized to maximize the performance of all m.Zuiko digital lenses in any shooting condition. Improvements to the sensitivity and read-out speed of the existing sensor makes ISO 12,800 shooting and Full HD movie recording possible.

Say goodbye to blurry images. Olympus’ in-body image stabilization technology makes it possible to use any Micro Four Thirds lenses (or Four Thirds lens), from wide-angle to telephoto, for perfectly clear, crisp photos no matter what the shooting situation, even in low light!

The new TruePic VI Image Processor, designed specifically for the Olympus PEN, features Real Color Technology for improved color reproduction (especially colors such as emerald green, yellow, and gold) and color gradation. The faster processor also allows for a shorter recovery time between shots.

Nail the focus for every portrait photo, every time. The new face detection AF employs an "Eye Detect AF" that adjusts focus automatically on the subject's eyes during portrait shooting and can even be adjusted to focus on the right, left or near-side eye. The Face Detection function captures up to eight faces, reducing the chance of blurred subjects when shooting several people at once.


The new FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) AF System is able to focus at an incredible speed and offers 35 separate focus points that are spread over nearly the entire sensor, which makes it possible for pin-point accurate focusing on small subjects wherever they appear in the frame. Selectable 3x3 groups within the 35-point area are especially effective when shooting active subjects.

With the E-PL3 you can take up to five photos a second, allowing you to easily capture that perfect shot, especially when your subject is moving.

ADVANCED CONTINUOUS AF & TRACKING With the improved AF system, the AF Tracking function locks your subject into focus and continuously adjusts focus and brightness even if the subject disappears from view momentarily.

High-precision engineering and an improved internal focusing mechanism have allowed the Olympus MSC (Movie+Still Compatible) lenses to auto focus quickly, smoothly and silently, perfect for stills and movies.


Shoot up to 29 minutes of 1080 60i HD video and stereo sound in either AVCHD or AVI formats. A Direct HD Movie Button switches you from still to movie mode with just the press of a button.

Six in-camera Art Filters (Pop Art, Soft Focus, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama and Dramatic Tone) are enhanced by new filter variations, art effects and bracketing. Photographers can use Art Filters in all shooting modes as well as filming HD movies.

Add a new dimension to your photographs in any mode from macro to landscape with Olympus’ 3D technology. By simply selecting the 3D Photo Mode, releasing the shutter, and slowly panning, the camera will automatically take a second image from a slightly different perspective. The 3D data is processed in-camera resulting in an .MPO file, the universal industry 3D format, for easy display on 3D televisions or laptops.

Slideshows have never been easier or more fun to create. The E-PL3's enhanced playback functions allow you to employ effective fade-in/fade-out techniques, control the movie/still mix and speed, add captivating musical soundtracks, and much more.


This bright, 614k dot high-resolution screen comes with the AF (Anti-Fingerprint) coating. You don’t even need to worry about fingerprint smudges.

iAuto automatically identifies the scene you're shooting – portrait, landscape, night portrait, macro, or sport – and adjusts the settings to optimize results. The E-PL3 is also equipped with 23 Scene-Select modes for effortless picture taking, including Fireworks, Sunset, Children, Macro and Panorama, to name a few. There are even three scene modes that are specific to shooting with Olympus’ conversion lenses to optimize the performance of those lenses.

The E-PL3’s Live Guide system allows you to preview effects as you adjust them – before the image is even captured. Simply select Live Guide and turn the wheel on the back of the camera to slide through numerous photographic effects, such as brightness, color saturation, tone, etc.

Operating the camera is more intuitive with the newly designed user interface. The on-screen graphics have also been updated with a sleeker font design and an automatic pop-up guide in the menu screen.

No need for cables or even a computer. Upload or email images directly from your camera with an optional PP-1 PENPAL® or Eye-Fi™ card. The E-PL3 is also capable of recording stills and video to SD, SDHC, SDXC and UHS-I media cards.


The addition of this super luminosity LED beam allows the camera to focus faster in low light up to almost 10 feet.

Stunning low light photos are a click away with an increased ISO sensitivity to 12,800.

This camera provides the flexibility to attach a flash to your camera via the accessory port, or leave it at home for maximum portability

Product Details

Color: Black
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.5 x 2.5 inches ; 11 ounces
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Domestic Shipping: Item can be shipped within U.S.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • Item model number: E-PL3_
  • Batteries 1 Lithium ion batteries required.
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,676 in Camera & Photo (See Top 100 in Camera & Photo)
  • Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here
  • Date first available at July 28, 2011

Read about our customers' top-rated cameras on our review page: Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 99 people found the following review helpful By GoDark on September 22, 2011
Color: Black
The axiom that is so true: The best camera for you is the camera that is with you! Grew tired of backaches while hiking with my Nikon DSLR gear, which increasingly never left the house. Bought an Olympus XZ-1 as a camera that could always be with me ... and was so impressed with it that I wanted its "big brother" for better image quality when on walkabouts or hiking. The Olympus P-3 seemed a bit too much; the PM-1 seemed a bit too little; the PL-3 seemed just right (especially with the tilting screen). The form factor and menu navigation features of the XZ-1 and PL-3 are very similar. The XZ-1 is pocketable; the PL-3 is not due to the protruding lenses. Getting some of the best photos of my life with both the XZ-1 and the PL-3 ... because they are with me.

There is another side to this, and that is that people often appear uncomfortable around people taking photos with large DSLRs with large protruding lenses. I feel none of this discomfort using either the XZ-1 or the PL-3 in public places.

Exploring capabilities with the Olympus 14-42mm kit lens and the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens (have the new Panasonic "X" lenses and the Olympus 45mm lens on order). The Panasonic 20mm is incredible small, making the PL-3 feel and operate like a small rangefinder camera. The f/1.7 lens allows one to take natural light photos in places impossible with slower lenses. The Olympus 14-42mm kit lens appears to be of high quality, although it does have a plastic lens mount (please manufacturers ... charge us the extra cost and ban plastic lens mounts!).
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Sheridan T on January 6, 2012
Color: Black
In 2005, my need was a camera which had no shutter lag to shoot pictures of my speedy daughters. I ended up with the Nikon D300. Beautiful shots which have been enlarged to 16x20. More recently the kids have grown, while the D300 still fills my photo needs, it would be great to have a video record of their violin and piano recitals. The tilt screen, HD video and small size drew me to the EPL3 which looked like it would fill my need perfectly. Unlike the D300, the EPL3 actually fits in my pants pocket. The quality of the video and the ease of copying the files to my computer drive really surprised me. My EPL3 came with the 14-42mmIIR lens, this combination truly blew me away after reviewing the pics I snapped of a Hawaiian sunset after a heavy rainstorm...breathtaking colors. I cheated a bit by using a 8x ND filter and my tripod. After lugging the D300 around for the past 6 years the EPL3 feels like a toy because of its compact size and weight. I have read the EP1 & EP2 are sluggish in the focus department, seems like with the EPL3 this is no longer an issue. Panasonic lens 20mm 1.7 and 14mm 2.5 seem to be fully compatible, both lens slipped on and were ready to shoot. Once this camera is in your hands you should be impressed by the seek look and quality feel. This camera delivers wonderful photos and video. The EPL3 is definitely not a toy.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By K. De Nil on February 22, 2013
Color: Black
I have literally wanted to buy a camera for ages now - the last camera I owned was a film camera - but each time I looked into digital cameras, something put me off actually making that step and spending my money. This time, with a baby on the way, a decision had to be made.

So last October, I started reading the usual sites (dpreview etc. which TBH weren't that useful since my knowledge of camera's is too limited), asked friends and people who were more knowledgeable about cameras and I read a whole bunch of reviews on

Most of the time I was advised to get some kind of Point-and-shoot camera, because:

a. it would fit in my pocket
b. I didn't know what I was doing anyway

I would then research whichever camera I was recommended and end up unconvinced because most reviews stated that a P&S camera's are generally only marginally better a good camera phone. (I am aware there are exceptions to this statement). In addtion, since I am a woman, most of my clothes do not _have_ pockets and the thought of being doomed to 'auto' for the rest of my life was ... depressing.

One friend told me to get a one-generation old micro 4/3 camera.

So I researched those... They looked promising but one review, or rather the comments on said review, here on amazon on the olympus PEN e-PL1 put me off. The comments were generally along the lines of: "you shouldn't have bought this camera since you are too stupid to use it". EEK!! Surely, I'd fit into that category as well. Part of me couldn't help but feel that this sort camera was just too good/advanced for me.

In the end... 4 months later, after going around in circles endlessly, I read an article on the best way to make pictures of babies which in summary said:

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By matt1234 on August 1, 2012
Color: Silver Verified Purchase
Updated February 19, 2013:

2 things to mention.

1 - I recently got the Olympus FL-600R flash, which while bulky with this camera will allow you much better control over light. Also the FL-600R flash recharges very quick so you can quickly take multiple pictures using the flash as opposed to the kit flash which is slow. Definitely a recommended add on that will allow you much more flexibility in using the camera. I definitely find myself getting better pictures much quicker (especially indoors) with the FL-600R as compared to the kit flash (or just due to the kit flash being too slow using no flash).

2 - I still wish this camera would perform better at high ISO settings, like at 1600 (even 800+). I have a lot of night or low light pictures where flash is not desired but due to the camera sensor not dealing well with ISO 1600 these pictures tend to suffer (i.e. could not use adequate shutter speeds at ISO 1600 without underexposing too much). For the most part I am happy with the pictures I get but I still would very much like better ISO performance. I knew this when I bought this camera, but at least now there is the E-PL5 and OM-D which should both have more than adequate ability to deal with high ISO settings. Meanwhile I am holding off on upgrading, especially now that the new flash has helped improve things, but if buying now and deciding between the E-PL3 and the E-PL5 I would choose the 5 as the extra ISO capability will make the camera a more versatile performer with the kit lens and in low light.
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