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Olympus PEN Series: E-PL3

The Olympus Pen Lite E-PL3 is quite a bit smaller than its predecessor, as well as the E-P3 introduced at the same time. The new camera also finally embraces the Pen name more boldly, with the suggested shorthand being Pen Lite.


Though the E-PL3 has the same 12-megapixel resolution, Olympus says they've improved high ISO performance. 


We'll have to wait for a shipping version to confirm, but one thing that's improved over any past Pen design is the autofocus speed, which rivals and even bests some digital SLR designs.


 Called FAST AF, appropriately enough, the new AF system really makes up for the slower autofocus of previous Pen cameras. Also new is the AF-assist lamp, helping the camera focus in low light, and the tilting LCD screen.


With a sleek, straightforward exterior, the Pen Lite has been compared to the company's own Olympus XZ-1 in size, and save for the thickness from the tilting LCD screen and of course the lens, it isn't far off (see comparison photos below). The more slender lens design looks more at home on the E-PL3 than it did on the E-P2, and its new knurled ring and silver color look quite nice on the silver-bodied Pen Lite.


Updating its Micro Four Thirds Pen series today, Olympus announces three new ILCs. The E-P3, E-PL3 and Pen Mini boast dramatically faster auto focus and the creative flexibility that we've come to expect from the Pen.


The Olympus E-P3 replaces the E-P2 as the flagship Pen. It offers the same premium build quality as its predecessor and adds a 3.0-inch touch screen. The E-PL3 shares many features with the E-P3 including a 12.3 megapixel Live MOS sensor though it lacks touch functionality and the durable build of its counterpart. It replaces the E-PL2 as a step-down alternative.


The Olympus Pen Mini E-PM1 represents a new product altogether, smaller than the E-P3 and E-PL3 with an appearance and interface designed to appeal to the beginner and casual shooter. Also debuting are two new Zuiko prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds - a 12mm f/2 and a 45mm f/1.8.


Aside from a speed enhancement, the new sensor and processor combo offers new Real Color Technology. 


It's a tweaked formula for color reproduction that Olympus claims is more faithful to real world color, reduces a loss of detail in highly saturated color blocks and handles typically troublesome colors better. The processor is also responsible for a faster start-up time and uses pixel binning to produce a more crisp image on the camera's display.


This camera has many features and you can use it to create beautiful pictures.


Although the E-PL3 provides image stabilization during movie capture, this is achieved in software, and the sensor shift stabilization system is disabled throughout. Unusually, the E-PL3 allows not only Program exposure for movies, but also allows Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, and Manual exposure, as well as use of its Art Filter functions. Shutter speeds in Shutter-priority or Manual modes are 1/30 second or less, and some Art Filter functions may adversely effect frame rate of recorded video.

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