Body & Design
With the arrival of the PEN E-PL3, Olympus moves further away from trying to ape the styling of its 1960s and 70s film cameras. Instead it has adopted the understated design of its XZ-1 and the result is quite attractive. More significantly, the overall design appears much more coherent than that of the E-PL1, which appeared to have had the front and rear panels of two different cameras glued together. With sleeker, more rounded edges, a thinner top plate and a less dense button layout, the latest PEN Lite shares a decidedly more compact-camera aesthetic than its predecessor, the E-PL2.
The most obvious physical change from the E-PL2 is the lack of a hand grip on the E-PL3. The rear LCD screen has also undergone a makeover and is now in a 16:9 format. This new screen shape fits rather nicely with the E-PL3's sleek, streamlined design and provides full screen coverage when recording and playing back HD video. The sacrifice, however, comes when previewing or viewing still images in the camera's native 4:3 aspect ratio.
In a nod to the first-generation E-PL1, the PEN Lite's Fn and Magnify buttons have been placed along the upper portion of the rear camera plate, where they sit with the Record, Playback and Delete buttons. Despite its smaller size, the E-PL3 manages to retain all of the direct controls seen on previous E-PLx models.