Previous news story    Next news story

Olympus launches VF-3 and announces E-PL3 US pricing

By dpreview staff on Jul 27, 2011 at 05:00 GMT

Olympus has announced US pricing and availability for the PEN Lite E-PL3. The E-PL3 will be available from September at a suggested retail price of $699.99. As previously announced, the MSRP in the UK market will be £549.99. The camera will be shipped as a kit with either the M.Zuiko 14-42mm lens or the M. Zuiko 17mm pancake lens. The company has also introduced the VF-3 electronic viewfinder for its PEN series of Micro Four Thirds cameras. This is a smaller, slightly lower resolution (0.97x magnification, 920k dot, rather than 1.15x, 1.44M dot) alternative to the existing VF-2. Compatible with all PEN cameras that have an accessory port, the VF-3 has a street price of $179.99, offers a 100% field of view and can be tilted by up to 90 degrees.

Jump to:

Press Release:

SWING INTO ACTION! OLYMPUS UNLEASHES THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED PEN E-PL3 CAMERA FEATURING TILTING LCD AND THE NEW VF-3 ELECTRONIC VIEWFINDER


Price and Availability Announced for Compact PEN E-PL3 Camera That Delivers Maximum Flexibility, Innovation and Amazing Image Quality for All;
New Accessory Viewfinder Expands Your Point of View

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., July 27, 2011 – Imaging enthusiasts will rejoice knowing that they can finally get their hands on the desirable Olympus PEN E-PL3 – a powerful camera designed for photographers craving a portable camera with pro quality and point-and-shoot simplicity. The PEN E-PL3 is an interchangeable lens camera offering a sleek, metal body packed with versatile controls and lenses with professional image quality.

Available in September, the Olympus PEN E-PL3 will be sold at the affordable price of $699.99 and will deliver amazing image quality and lightning fast speed for brilliant still images and high-definition (HD) video. It will ship bundled with either a wide-angle zoom M.Zuiko 14-42mm lens (28mm-84mm equivalent), optimized for fast autofocus (AF) and silent AF operation, or the M. Zuiko 17mm ultra-compact and portable wide-angle pancake lens (34mm equivalent).  

The PEN E-PL3 is a member of the Olympus PEN family of compact system cameras that also includes the new E-P3 and E-PM1. Designed to help innovation seekers capture and share their unique visions, the Olympus PEN E-PL3 combines pro quality with the portability of a point-and-shoot and features found on bulkier DSLR-type cameras.

Olympus also expands the power of its PEN Micro Four Thirds system family today with the introduction of the compact VF-3 Electronic Viewfinder. Attractively priced at $179.99, the VF-3 easily attaches to Olympus PEN models with an accessory port, as well as the Olympus XZ-1 for eye-level convenience.

Packs a Powerful Punch in a Small Package
The E-PL3 offers something for everyone. Packed with the technology and image quality normally found in a DSLR, it’s the size of a small, portable point-and-shoot camera and can easily travel with you. Its 3-inch, tilting high-resolution LCD screen helps you see high above the crowd to capture amazing stills and HD video of live performances, sports events and more. Easily move to eye-level to capture superb detail of children at play or even lower to the ground to record baby’s first steps or a pet soundly sleeping. Never worry about missing a spontaneous moment because the E-PL3 shoots at 5 frames per second.  

Offering the versatility of interchangeable lenses, excellent quality low-light shooting thanks to the camera’s AF Illuminator, a high ISO of up to 12,800, with a blazing fast autofocus system, a

12.3-megapixel Live MOS Image Sensor and TruePic™ VI Image Processor, the Olympus PEN E-PL3 becomes the ultimate travel companion. Discretely document all of the color and pageantry of the city, even in low-light, as you make your way to your next destination.
 
Staying in for a more relaxed evening at home? Tech-enthusiasts will want to keep the E-PL3 ready by their side to capture friends and family, while showcasing their creativity. Easy-to-use technologies like in-camera Art Filters and image effects empower users to apply their unique artistic vision to images and videos so they can easily share professional-quality creations. Accessing all of the camera’s options is quick and easy with a new intuitive interface.

See the World through Your Own Eye
The VF-3 is perfect for photographers who like the option of holding the camera up to their eye to compose. With 100-percent field-of-view, none of the recordable subject area is cropped, making composition with the VF-3 easy and accurate. The magnification and built-in diopter adjustment of the VF-3 allow for easy viewing. The VF-3 can be rotated up to 90-degrees to accommodate more obscure shooting angles for additional creative control. Furthermore, if you are the kind of person who likes to tweak the settings on your TV, you’ll love the ability to adjust the brightness and color temperature to your own particular tastes.

“The Olympus PEN E-PL3 is designed to capture spontaneous, authentic moments in amazing detail without the need to sacrifice portability or quality,” said Katie Roseman, senior product manager, Olympus Imaging America Inc. “We’ve packed the affordable E-PL3 with technologies and image quality normally found in bigger DSLR-type cameras. Now, with the new VF-3, consumers can get more of a DSLR-like experience from our cameras by looking through the viewfinder to compose the shot.”

Availability
The Olympus PEN E-PL3 kit will be available in black, white, red and silver, starting in September 2011. The kit includes the PEN E-PL3 body, lens, USB cable, video cable, BLS-1 Li-Ion battery pack, Li-Ion battery charger, shoulder strap, OLYMPUS [ib] software CD-ROM, manuals and registration card.

The updated Olympus Viewer 2 software is included with all new Olympus PEN cameras. The software helps users edit and organize photos and play back AVCHD video. Olympus Viewer 2 also enables users to experience new functions, including the application of new art filters, effects and variations.

U.S. Pricing / Product Configurations
Olympus PEN E-PL3 Body with MSC M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED m14-42mm II R f3.5/5.6 Zoom or 17mm Lens Estimated Street Price: $699.99

Olympus VF-3 Electronic Viewfinder Estimated Street Price: $179.99

Additional image


E-P3 with VF-3 viewfinder

73
I own it
8
I want it
29
I had it
Discuss in the forums

Comments

Total comments: 55
fastglass
By fastglass (Jul 30, 2011)

Why no "Body only" option?

Requiring that a kit lens be purchased, every time - with a removable lens system camera - is insane.

So, I'll pass.

1 upvote
safeashouses
By safeashouses (Aug 4, 2011)

Thank you for passing yet again on a new camera, it means there will but more out there for the rest of us.

0 upvotes
panpen
By panpen (Aug 16, 2011)

Duh. How many will you buy anyway? Duh

0 upvotes
fastglass
By fastglass (Jul 30, 2011)

Why no "Body only" option?

Requiring that a kit lens be purchased, every time - with a removable lens system camera - is insane.

So, I'll pass.

1 upvote
safeashouses
By safeashouses (Aug 4, 2011)

Insane I tell ya, just insane!

0 upvotes
dtmoody
By dtmoody (Jul 29, 2011)

All this talk about the EVF... I'd be happy to just have the funds to buy the camera itself. I can not afford a new camera so I struggle to squeeze out decent images from my Canon PowersShot SD1100 IS ...LOL

I use what I have and make the best of it.

1 upvote
smartwombat
By smartwombat (Jul 28, 2011)

Gain is more of a sensor feature rather than EVF.
As night fell the EVF became less and less use for panning shots of race cars, a problem I'd not have with an optical finder. As the integration time to gather usable light brought the frame rate down to about 5fps I could see the cars, but not pan on target with the slow update rate.
Maybe with the second processor path on the new processor and the new sensor this will not be a problem whichever EVF we use.

I hope the -3 series bodies are in the shops in the UK in time for my next IZOD Indy Car Series race, so I can try out the new faster AF at 230mph

0 upvotes
Vadimka
By Vadimka (Jul 28, 2011)

Smaller resolution does not mean worse performance... Remember you are not going to print from your EVF. (yes, maybe for 10x magnification it will be a bit worse, but there are many other factors that will improve your performance as refresh rate, gain etc)

It may not be the best example but still:
Sony F3 (pro cine camera) has an APS-C size sensor with only 2MP native resolution, which produces same or better image quality than Canon's 18MP 7D body. (yes its video, yes its 24fps, but so is EVFs, if not exactly, its somewhat similar concept)

1 upvote
GrahamJohn
By GrahamJohn (Jul 28, 2011)

Had it been Sigma we'd be looking at $4995. I hope this starts to push down the price of the EPL-2, which I think I will get instead.

1 upvote
CharlesB58
By CharlesB58 (Jul 27, 2011)

I'm bemused by the continual posts all over this site "Make ____ Olympus product more like __________ brand. Heck, just go ahead and buy the other brand, folks. If you don't understand that Olympus is wanting to blaze its own path in the m4/3 market, then you should indeed switch brands. It will save you the frustration of constantly griping when Olympus does something their own way instead of copying others.

BTW, news flash on build in EVF-right now, more people have "grown up" using cameras with no EVF than have used one, so the marketing numbers are against those who say "we want an EVF". That we is an ever decreasing market segment, like it or not.

3 upvotes
australopithecus
By australopithecus (Jul 27, 2011)

Charles, I won't buy a camera that has no viewfinder. What's the point in having a 930dot screen on the back of one's compact if you can't see a thing in bright light ?

1 upvote
Brian Mosley
By Brian Mosley (Jul 27, 2011)

Charles, I didn't 'grow up' using cameras with no EVF - I switched from a heavy, bulky, expensive DSLR to a tiny P&S camera (the Panasonic FX01) and rediscovered the fun of photography... using this P&S for a good while convinced me that framing with an LCD was more than fine. I love the direction the Pen took, making the EVF optional and shareable amongst bodies... works great for me!

2 upvotes
haydukelives
By haydukelives (Jul 27, 2011)

I felt the same way,and would not buy a cam without a viewfinder a few years ago, but my epl2 LCD is quite visible in bright light even at the beach,the resolution is good,and the magnification is cool,but takes me too much time to use it much.

0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Jul 27, 2011)

I only wish that the EVF on the Pen (any Pen) was like the original film Pen. That VF did not require a bump on the form of the body. It could have been done here by just moving the LCD a little to the right to open up a space on the left of the back.

Oly is moving in the right direction with the emphasis on faster operation though.

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Jul 27, 2011)

Price is going up instead of down. MSRP is $100 more than E-PL2 and you don't have an integrated flash or grip.

2 upvotes
Simon Zeev
By Simon Zeev (Jul 27, 2011)

EVF is the most useful accessory on my E-PL2. He stays on the camera all the time. I wanted a build-in but renounced for the tilted option.
I will not buy a camera without an EVF.

5 upvotes
jorg14
By jorg14 (Jul 27, 2011)

Sorry to buck the trend, but I welcome the viewfinder removal.
Just using the LCD works fine for me.

1 upvote
xMichaelx
By xMichaelx (Jul 27, 2011)

"I welcome the viewfinder removal. "
You realize cameras can have both, right?

1 upvote
G Davidson
By G Davidson (Jul 27, 2011)

Slightly lower res? Sounds more like 30%, talk about going in the wrong direction! I really don't understand m4/3 updates, where useful things get removed. I suppose right now Canikon can breath a sigh of relief, but sooner or later they'll have a built in one like Fuji's.

1 upvote
IcanHazPics
By IcanHazPics (Jul 27, 2011)

"Slightly lower res? Sounds more like 30%"
Let's not forget: for a price that is 30% less than the VF-2.
How do you say... you get what you pay for?

2 upvotes
Greg Gebhardt
By Greg Gebhardt (Jul 27, 2011)

Dissapointing! When are they going to realize that we want the EVF to be contained inside the camera. Do not want that big HONKER attachement. The camera would only have to grow a little and you could have the EVF there all the time.

10 upvotes
curtisls
By curtisls (Jul 28, 2011)

Respectfully, I am not a member of your "we." I have been using the E-P1 since it came out without an EVF and have never missed a shot because I didn't have one.
I like the idea of it as an accessory, although I do confess that I wish it didn't usurp the flash shoe.

0 upvotes
Vadimka
By Vadimka (Jul 28, 2011)

I mostly use legacy MF lenses with my µ4/3 bodies and EVF is very important to me. However, I see no problem with removable EVF on Pen series. I'd buy EP3 for its form factor and if it had a sticking-out EVF on the back or a hump ala GH2, I wouldn't bother. I'd be happy to snap an EVF on top of it should I need an extra support for shooting a long tele (5% of a time for me) or using MF portrait lens. But from my prior experience with EP2 and 14mm, 20mm and 7-14mm, I can say that EVF was almost never used with those lenses. Now with EP3 it will be even better due to the faster AF, better LCD with better viewing angle and better grips.

1 upvote
Amando Hernández
By Amando Hernández (Jul 27, 2011)

The Olympus range of EVIL cameras is becoming more and more attractive by the day. EP3 plus the new viewfinder plus primes lenses... Pity for not having a body with integrated viewfinder.

1 upvote
slncezgsi
By slncezgsi (Jul 27, 2011)

What would be the reason to get a EVF that is even smaller than the existing one (apart from price maybe)? Just wondering ...

0 upvotes
M Jesper
By M Jesper (Jul 27, 2011)

I know right. I'm happy with my supercar, i cannot understand why some people still buy anything less when it's clearly worse in every way, except for the price.

3 upvotes
halil selman nsel
By halil selman nsel (Jul 27, 2011)

price is important :) it has almost the same price tag with panasonic evf and it is much better.

0 upvotes
skueppers
By skueppers (Jul 27, 2011)

Price matters to me -- this new one is a lot more likely to make its way into my shopping basket than the old one was.

1 upvote
IcanHazPics
By IcanHazPics (Jul 27, 2011)

I agree with skueppers - $180 vs $250 makes a *big* difference.

0 upvotes
mrjamesabels
By mrjamesabels (Jul 28, 2011)

Holding the vf up to my eye, i brace the camera to my face. Using the screen is not the same. Am I the only one that feels this way! Or are these cameras just for snap shots?

1 upvote
Figsbury
By Figsbury (Jul 28, 2011)

If you've got a neck strap on the camera, bracing the camera away from you with tension on the strap is just as effective (if not more so) at steadying the camera as bracing it against the face. But no good with a wrist loop!

0 upvotes
safeashouses
By safeashouses (Aug 4, 2011)

To mrjamesabels
"Holding the vf up to my eye, i brace the camera to my face... Am I the only one that feels this way! Or are these cameras just for snap shots?
Is that what makes a good photo, where you hold the camera? Good to know.

0 upvotes
mark25
By mark25 (Jul 27, 2011)

no, it wont be compatible with any panasonic micro 43 camera. however, it will work perfectly well with xz1. that should make a very nice setup.

4 upvotes
halil selman nsel
By halil selman nsel (Jul 27, 2011)

is it compatible with panasonic lx5?

0 upvotes
mark25
By mark25 (Jul 27, 2011)

no, it wont be compatible with any panasonic micro 43 camera.

1 upvote
mattmtl
By mattmtl (Jul 27, 2011)

It still bugs me that Panasonic and Olympus went with incompatible accessory ports.

They have a system standard, but apart from using the same mount it seems like they've been going out of their way to lock users into using their respective bodies, lenses and accessories.

It doesn't really work -- plenty of people mix-and-match the bodies and lenses -- so the accessory port decision seems even pettier.

As someone with Panasonic bodies (for now), I look at this announcement and the only thing I can say is: at least there might be hope for a better Panasonic viewfinder that will be compatible with my GF1.

But wouldn't it make more sense for this new Oly accessory to work on *any* Olympus or Panasonic camera with an accessory port?

4 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (Jul 27, 2011)

@mattmtl: "It still bugs me that Panasonic and Olympus went with incompatible accessory ports."

And location of the IS: lens vs. body.

Yes, dumb. But if you think about it, 43/m43 is still sole lens mount used by more than a single camera manufacturer. Pray that at least this stays that way.

0 upvotes
mattmtl
By mattmtl (Jul 28, 2011)

The IS issue is a bit of a hassle if you shoot with Panasonic bodies, as it makes several longer Oly lenses less attractive. But it bothers me far less than the accessory-port business. After all, I can still use any Oly lens as long as I take lack of IS into account.

As for the two companies/one mount aspect, it's a good thing but could be more consumer-friendly (though at least now the lens lineups overlap a little less than they did at first).

0 upvotes
smartwombat
By smartwombat (Jul 28, 2011)

I use the Panasonic lenses for their optical IS, on both the Panasonic and Olympus bodies. All my lenses are Panasonic apart from the 14-42 kit lens that came with the Oly body.
I just hope the fast AF isn't crippled (deliberately?) when using non-Olympus lenses.

0 upvotes
andrea_g
By andrea_g (Jul 27, 2011)

I wonder if VF3 iworks with XZ1 too. It would be perfect on that small camera!

0 upvotes
mark25
By mark25 (Jul 27, 2011)

it will work perfectly well with xz1. that should make a very nice setup.

0 upvotes
Tim in upstate NY
By Tim in upstate NY (Jul 27, 2011)

The E-PL3 and XZ-1 are virtually the same size not counting whatever lens is attached to the E-PL3.

0 upvotes
CrashE3
By CrashE3 (Jul 27, 2011)

"The E-PL3 and XZ-1 are virtually the same size not counting whatever lens is attached to the E-PL3." Oh.. and the sensor.. and processing engine, not that those count for anything.

0 upvotes
IcanHazPics
By IcanHazPics (Jul 27, 2011)

" "The E-PL3 and XZ-1 are virtually the same size [...]" Oh.. and the sensor.. and processing engine, not that those count for anything."

And price: $700 vs $400, not that it counts for anything... ;)

0 upvotes
sadim1223
By sadim1223 (Jul 27, 2011)

I'm scratching my head as to why neither the Panasonic or Oly viewfinders have an IR proximity sensor.

The nuisance of using the button was my biggest reason for selling the VF for my panny GF1.

0 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (Jul 27, 2011)

Stop the scratching. There is no common-sensual explanation for that.

0 upvotes
smartwombat
By smartwombat (Jul 28, 2011)

An IR proximity sensor is prone to switching on when the camera is on a neckstrap and your shirt provides the IR reflectance.
If that also wakes the camera out of sleep mode, or prevents it going to sleep as it thinks it's up to your eye and being used - then it wastes battery power by turning on a VF you're not looking at.
One of the big drawbacks of the Minolta A1 (remember them? sensor shake stabilisation, EVF, bought out by Sony) and a feature I turned off pretty quick.

0 upvotes
emircruz
By emircruz (Jul 27, 2011)

sweet. does it come in black?

0 upvotes
kahren
By kahren (Jul 27, 2011)

this is almost the same thing as the vf-2, why bother? the price is a lot better, so i think its a better deal for those who were contemplating buying the vf-2. but why not tailor to an even wider market if you are going to bother with making another VF. IMO they should have made this an even lower spec one, like the panasonic lvf1 and sold it for $99 instead. :(

2 upvotes
jrg
By jrg (Jul 27, 2011)

I gotta agree.

0 upvotes
Tim in upstate NY
By Tim in upstate NY (Jul 27, 2011)

Thye Panasonic EVF has been largely rejected by most for being of a poor quality in comparison to the Olympus EVF which is why your lower spec suggestion hasn't and won't happen.

1 upvote
frelwa
By frelwa (Jul 27, 2011)

Maybe the VF-3 stays where you angle it better than my VF-2, which swings up and down too easily. Hoping the new VF has click stops or at least more resistance to movement.

0 upvotes
Drewpy
By Drewpy (Jul 28, 2011)

I have to admit, I don't like the looks of the EPL3, too slick, looks like a Casio or Sony product and the price of the EPL3 seems ridiculous, and you have to buy the VF2 or 3 as well?! I would buy the EP3 instead, much better looking and who really needs that silly tiltable screen if you have a tiltable viewfinder? I like my EPL2 better.

0 upvotes
smartwombat
By smartwombat (Jul 28, 2011)

well droopy, the E-PL3 screen tilts down and the viewfinder tilts up - covers using it in a hail mary above the crowd, or on your knees getting the macro flower shot.

I'm old enough to have used waist level finder on SLR over the head for shots over the crowd. Back in the days when you didn't get a photo of a field of cellphone screens in the way!

0 upvotes
safeashouses
By safeashouses (Aug 4, 2011)

Maybe they should have just asked you how much money you had to spend and just made one just for you. I can't wait for the 'why did they make it So cheap post'.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 55