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EP3 First Impressions

Discussion in 'Micro Four Thirds Forum' started by Ray Sachs, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    (note - a nearly word for word copy of a post over at m43.com)

    Well, that was quick. I sold my GH2, Nex, the Nex lenses, and a legacy lens a couple of weeks ago and figured I'd be without an m43 camera for a couple of months. I was leaning hard toward the EPL3 but after seeing some demos of the EP3 touch screen, I knew I was gonna have to try both and see which one I liked better. And to my surprise, the EP3 became available and I ordered one yesterday, which, given my proximity to NYC, means I got it overnight. And after playing around with it for about an hour...

    Everything I didn't like about earlier Oly cameras I LOVE about this one. Its just fast in pretty much everything it does. People are dithering on about how the AF is faster with some lenses than others. I suppose that's true, but they're ALL so frickin' fast I don't know how it could possibly matter if one is a slight fraction faster or slower than another. The Panasonic 20 is probably the slowest of the bunch that I've tried and it cooks - it felt slightly faster than the GH2 and the GH2 should be fast enough for anyone. Also, shot to shot time is basically as fast as you can push the shutter button (assuming you turn the auto-review feature off - otherwise you have to clear that). The blackout time and shutter lag that existed with the EP2 is just GONE.

    The touchscreen is just brilliant - I never even REMOTELY bonded with the touchscreen on the GH2 but the touch is so much lighter on the EP3 - it really is like an Iphone touch - not a press. Its VERY easy to toggle between having the touchscreen disabled, used for focus only, or used to both focus and shoot. You don't have to worry about accidentally hitting if you don't want to use it because its SOOOO easy to turn on and off. And with the OLED screen quite visible from a pretty wide angle of views, you can hold this camera out in front of you and down reasonably low and just shoot using the touchscreen. I'd been anticipating wanting the EPL3 for the tilt-screen and I'm sure I'll check one out once they hit the stores, but I'm not at all sure I'm going to want one if I can hold this and shoot it so unobtrusively without going near the shutter button. And with the lenses I almost always use for any sort of street application (the 14 and 17), the touch to the shot is so incredibly fast (assuming there's just a bit of light available) that I don't see much benefit to a half press - its not like there's any lag in the process. I don't anticipate this being my main street camera - I really love the silent shutter on the GRD3 and X100 - but certainly a worthy option when I'm not concerned about shutter noise.

    So far, I've tried it with the 14, 17, 20, 14-450, and 100-300 and AF is insanely fast on all of them. Oh, and the kit lens too, which I'll probably stash away until I eventually sell this, although its way too early to think about that. Haven't tried the 9-18 yet and I have a 45mm on the way, which I expect should be very very good.

    Misgivings? Well, the ring around the four-way controller is REALLY little - I don't recall the one on the EP2 being this small and I used that a lot more than the thumbwheel with that camera. With this one, I'll be using the thumbwheel for on the fly. If the ring on the EPL3 is this small, that could be a deal-breaker for me since its the only rotary type controller on that camera. I've only had the OLED screen outside for a few minutes (in case you haven't heard, its stinkin' HOT here these days). It was OK in very bright light, but that does seem to reduce the useful angle of view somewhat - not as impressive as the Nex screen was in bright light. I haven't played with the settings yet, though, so maybe this can be brightened up...

    I don't know anything about IQ - probably won't until Apple gets around to offering raw support for this camera. But I'm sure it'll be fine. I loved the IQ from my EP2 and I can't imagine this won't be at least as good. I'm not an IQ freak and am satisfied with the IQ of my GRD3 most of the time, so I'll be fine with this.

    Anyway, I'm back in the m43 fold. In many ways, these new Olympus cams were what I've been waiting for in m43 gear - Oly features and feel with Panasonic speed (if not more). Gonna be very tough to beat for an all-around system camera.

    -Ray
     
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  2. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Excellent new blast of your first impressions, Ray - many thanks for posting this here right away!:2thumbs:

    Next we'll need some pictures when it cools down a bit. It's 90F in the shade here, but I know it's a lot hotter elsewhere.

    I'll be interested to hear and see more once you've had a chance to give your new Oly a work out. Great news on that fast auto focus!
     
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  3. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    Please can you post some pictures soon?
     
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  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Its too hot to go out and shoot (and is supposed to stay that way at least through Saturday). I'll eventually post some pics, but, realistically, I'm gonna be shooting jpeg until Apple updates their raw processor and I don't expect the images to be all that much different from the EP2 that I used to own. So, I'll post in the course of normal events and shooting, but it probably won't be all that soon.

    -Ray
     
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  5. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    Didn't know they were shipping yet.....

    Good job on getting one. I've been on the fense between this one or the PL3. Its good to hear that the OLED screen is quite usable. I hope you keep us updated on your impressions.
     
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  6. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Nice Ray! What color did you get? Did you order from BH or Adorama or someone else?
     
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I could choose from any color I wanted, as long as it was black (fortunately, I like black cameras!). I ended up getting it from 17th St. Photo because they had it in stock and ready to ship, but it sounds like the supply is coming in pretty fast, so I imagine everyone will have them soon. I'm sure the silver ones will follow soon and maybe the white ones after that??? As long as I buy from one of the many shops in NYC and they assure me it will go out UPS ground that day, I know I'll have it the next day. I seem to have this routine down! :biggrin:

    -Ray
     
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  8. Thanks Ray, great write up.

    Not avilable in Oz until beginng of Aug so may need to do some quick saving.
     
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  9. wolfie

    wolfie SC Veteran

    299
    Sep 19, 2010
    Due in NZ next week (hopefully)

    Thanks for the first impressions on the EP3 - it is making this waiting all the more intense! As others have said, this generation really stands out where the PEN is fulfilling its role as a compact, high quality, responsive photographic tool.

    Now just waiting for the version with a WR body and lenses for us outdoor photographers!:biggrin:
     
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  10. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    I will admit to being confused around some discussions and reports regarding the EP3 image quality. My mistake for reading them.

    I wonder about the expectations. I was delighted with the quality from my EP2, and the 3 will hardly be worse - and from what I have seen is better in certain regards. One friend reckons there is greater DR, though not dramatic, and much better high ISO performance. He did mention the much faster focus, but said that the overall increase in operating speed was very noticeable over his EP2, and very welcome.

    Interestingly, he reckons that overall, it is a simpler camera to set up and manage. More refined. Sounds very nice.
     
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  11. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    At the moment there are two programs which can read the raw files of the E-P3: Raw Photo Processor and the latest version of Olympus Viewer 2. Imaging Resource offers the same studio shots for all cameras and all full ISO steps. I have compared the raw files taken with the E-P3 and the E-PL1, since I use the latter as my main camera. Comparing the pictures in Olympus Viewer I see very clean images which are about one stop better than those of the E-PL1. I was very excited when I saw this.

    However, things are more complicated, because closer looks reveal more noise reduction (which was deactivated for all shots I compared). I have read that Olympus Viewer applies different amounts of noise reduction for different cameras, even if noise reduction is off. This might eventually be the case here, because in Raw Photo Processor the raw files of both cameras look very similar. Digital Photography Review suggests that the raw files developed with an unofficial beta version of Lightroom look very similar to those taken with older pens, too. I am still looking forward to what real world photography will reveal, because the E-P3 is still a camera I am highly interested in.
     
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  12. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Interesting, thanks. Well, perhaps the EP3 may not be a very large step up in the IQ department, but I am sure it will improve on the 2, which was very good.
     
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  13. jim_khoo

    jim_khoo SC Veteran

    499
    Jul 11, 2010
    Kuala Lumpur
    Ray,
    allow me to borrow your thread.
    (i did not think another thread is necessary. hope you don't mind.)

    my first impression - the built quality is far better than my epl2.
    rather low light image quality (inside the mall - camera shop) is
    attached. i am pleased with it.
    (so far)

    image - "the happy guy" taken at the shop. and the guy behind
    the camera is now $945 in credit card debt on a silver unit.
    P7240003.jpg
    editing: none, only resize and frame-up in photobucket.
     
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  14. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    my weekend experience

    I was going to wait for epl3 also, but I bought one from Amazon as I have a few trips coming. I received it last Friday after missing the fedex truck on Thu.

    I wanted to test outside in the park with birds, but it was more inside due to weather. The touch screen is very good to change focus points to take photos. It might be useful on the street.

    Indoor AF is good as long as it catches contrasty areas. Still it cannot compete with a dslr in low light though it might be more precise. I thought macro 45mm is the most improved lens with new AF. The older lenses 17mm and 20mm seemed slower then the newer lenses.

    The orange AF help light is good, managed to focus nearly total darkness, but our cat didn't like it after a while and started to turn her head:)

    Video was wobbly from limited tries. It might be best to put on a tripod. Touchscreen doesn't seem to work with video. Now it can record over 1 hrs with my 16gb card. I don't usually use the video but it is good to know it is there.

    I missed having a flash with e-p1/2, esp in a small camera I think it beats to purpose when you have to carry an extra flash. It looks like e-p3 flash worked great though I have to test the intensity to know more. Of course the battery usage time went down quiet a bit.

    Also it has finally manual focus button for manual lenses. With e-p2 it took me a while to remember how to use it as it was hidden and I needed use it during a school presentation. In addition, there are 2 function buttons to customize but I didn't understand why they limited the choices. 2 arrow buttons also can be changed so I changed to them to WB and ISO like in E-P2. I prefer to have them accessible without looking to the camera.

    Jpegs looked good, maybe they use a little more noise reduction. I used medium quality with low noise reduction. I have to wait for the programs to update their raw to see if there is any difference. I guess I can use the provided Olympus software.
     
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  15. Photorx12

    Photorx12 SC Regular

    177
    May 31, 2011
    After playing around with the EP1 I just recived this past Friday and reading the reviews on the Ep3, I caved in and bought a black EP3 and now have an EP1 up for sale.....sigh.
     
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  16. jim_khoo

    jim_khoo SC Veteran

    499
    Jul 11, 2010
    Kuala Lumpur
    the oled display is rather warm... i tried to adjust the temp on the menu but not very successful.
    please, anybody... advice if i missed something?
     
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  17. Ghosthunter

    Ghosthunter boo!

    Sep 8, 2010
    London UK
    Andy
    Some good news from owners here, good to see it's going to be a great camera. I was going to wait for it but decided that the G3 was better for me as it had the built in EVF and articulating screen. We should be getting the EP3 in store soon so i will have a chance to play with it soon enough. I think it will be a winner for OLY aswel as the other 2 cameras in the range.
     
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  18. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    I have compared several other cameras with the E-P3, which was very interesting. I took the same studio shots and developed them with Raw Photo Processor. Since all cameras are excellent at lowest ISO I concentrated on the pictures taken with ISO 800 and ISO 1600. These are the highest ISO I really need. The image quality of the E-P3 at low ISO is excellent. I know that this is a rather limited test, but I get the expected results by looking at the images of the cameras I know.

    The G3 looks a little bit cleaner than the GH2, but the difference may be the result of slight variations of the testing method. At 100% the images of the E-P3 look about the same as those of the G3. That means that one can print larger while retaining image quality or print a little bit better while retaining image size with the G3. For the largest print I have ever done the image quality of the E-PL1 (and therefore also the image quality of the E-P3) is excellent, such that at the end of the day I am satisfied performance-wise.

    The Nikon D90 is about one stop better, which corresponds exactly to my experience. The Nikon D5100 is even better than the D90, but if one wants to see a really significant difference, one will have to take a look at the D700 (ISO 1600 are completely clean with that great, but heavy camera). Although the NEX-5 is cleaner, I think that it is not cleaner enough to switch the system, but there is no NEX system anyway.

    I would have been enormously happy, if I had the quality of the E-P3 at high ISO (and even at low ISO) when I was shooting film. I think that the lesser responsiveness of the older Pens is a bigger problem than their image quality. Although I wish, that Olympus had improved the sensor more than they did, I think that Olympus has solved the right problems. I hope that others see that like I do.

    After looking at all those photographs I think that the differences between cameras having µ4/3 sensors and APS-C sensors are nearly negligible compared to the differences of both to the sensor of the Nikon D700. There are differences among µ4/3 and APS-C cameras, but the differences regarding the handling of the cameras are more significant. Choosing a faster lens (only one stop is needed) wipes away all differences between any µ4/3 camera and any APS-C camera. I guess I will buy the E-P3.
     
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  19. wolfie

    wolfie SC Veteran

    299
    Sep 19, 2010
    Thanks Pictor for your observations - I'm waiting impatiently for my P3 to even arrive at the local agents and you guys can play with them at the shop! Reckon that for once the smaller sensor is going to have the advantage over the APS and larger formats when the laws of physics dictate that no matter how small the body is, the glass aint going to magically shrink (and then still require a fair bit of software fixing). The image quality is almost secondary for me as I have seen wonderful quality from the E-P1 onwards - in the right hands. The examples of the P3 have been at least as good, IMHO. The biggy for me is the AF speed and general reponse improvement for my candid work, or when taking semi-promotional pictures when out fishing.
    Any day now ...
     
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  20. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    Thanks, Wolfie! I have to add something, because it seems that I was too ambiguous: I don't own the E-P3 and it isn't available in the local shops yet. As written above, I downloaded the raw files from Imaging Resource. As usual I used the same studio shots for all cameras and ISO settings.

    I have also downloaded the raw files of the Canon G12, the Olympus XZ-1 and the Olympus E-5. Although the G12 seems to be slightly better at high ISO, I have not found any relevant difference between the G12 and the XZ-1. The faster lens overcompensates this difference significantly, such that I would prefer the XZ-1, if I had not bought the G12 yet. The E-5 seems to produce files which are a little bit cleaner than those of the E-P3. However, I cannot eliminate the possibility, that any differences between the testing procedures could have caused the difference.
     
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