Olympus PEN E-P3 in-depth review
Noise Filter and Sharpening
If there's one fault with the E-P3's JPEGs it's that the default level of noise reduction is rather strong, and can produce rather 'plasticky' images which lack texture and fine detail, especially at high ISO. These files should work pretty well for small prints, but viewed up-close on screen they can look rather over-processed and artificial.
If you don't like this you can, of course, tune your settings to your own personal taste. Noise reduction is, slightly counter-intuitively, set using the 'Noise Filter' control in the Custom G menu (the 'Noise Reduct' option is for long exposures), and you can turn this down to Low or Off to retain detail better. However if you do so, the default sharpening then somewhat accentuates the noise, so you may prefer to turn this down too (note though that sharpening is set individually for each Picture Mode). The examples below give an idea of what's possible.
Even at relatively low ISOs, the Noise Filter can be destructive of fine, low contrast detail (most notably hair), and its smoothing effect over even-toned areas can give a very strange appearance to skin. The example below illustrates this; even at ISO 500 the standard processing gives a very odd look to this portrait when viewed up-close on screen. Turning the noise filter off, and turning down the sharpening to match, results in a far better image for on-screen viewing.
Overall Image Quality/Specifics
On the whole, the E-P3 offers very good image quality in both JPEG and raw modes. In typical Olympus fashion it turns out well-exposed, attractive images with lovely colour rendition time after time. Overall its output is similar in this regard to previous PENs such as the E-PL2, and that's no bad thing at all.
The E-P3's metering is generally very reliable, which means that badly-blown highlights are relatively rare (of course you can easily keep an eye on this using either the live histogram or exposure warning display modes, and tweak the exposure compensation appropriately). White balance is also well-judged, and tends to err on the warm side rather than the cool - in fact the E-P3 is capable of making even the dullest of grey days look relatively cheerful.
We've long been big fans of Olympus's colour rendition, from either out-of-camera JPEGs or raw using the supplied conversion software. The E-P3 continues in this tradition, with the default Natural mode delivering attractive, saturated colours. However if you shoot in iAuto mode, the camera will use its i-Enhance picture mode that can look distinctly cartoonish - some users may well like this, but on the whole we're not too keen on it.
The one area where the E-P3 falls a little behind the competition, though, is in terms of high ISO noise; its 12Mp sensor is now distinctly lagging behind both the APS-C competition and the Panasonic G3's 16MP sensor in this regard. It still produces quite acceptable results up to about ISO3200, but going any higher becomes distinctly problematic (and ISO 12800 is so noisy as to be effectively unuseable). It's a pity that the E-P3 doesn't use the G3's sensor.
However it's worth bearing in mind that the E-P3's in-body image stabilisation can offset this to a degree; it allows you to shoot at slower shutter speeds and therefore lower ISOs than would otherwise be possible (as long as the subject isn't moving too fast, at which point blur can become a problem). And unlike other systems that rely on in-lens stabilization, it continues to work no matter what lens you're using.
Jan 19, 2012
Oct 25, 2011
Aug 17, 2011
Aug 4, 2014
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #9 spot we have the Fujifilm GFX 50S, a medium-format camera that took CP+ 2017 by storm.
Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you follow hashtags in addition to people, making it possible to keep track of your favorite #landscapes or #portraits without leaving your home feed.
Despite the gigantic volume of second hand film bodies in existence, it seems there is still a demand for new 35mm SLRs with a retro feel. The latest is a remake of the Ihagee Elbaflex from the 1960s, but with a Nikon F mount.
The Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod straps an instant printer directly to your Moto Z smartphone, so you can print your photos as soon as you've captured them.
The Mitakon Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens is being relaunched in 7 different mounts, including: Sony A, Sony E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Fujifilm G, Pentax K, and Leica L. Got an extra three grand lying around?
In January, Kodak announced it would bring back the beloved slide film Ektachrome. The timeline has been pushed back a bit, but Kodak says you can expect to purchase Ektachrome again in 2018.
Instagram popularity is threatening some of the most beautiful landscapes in the US, as hordes of 'nature lovers' trample over the same spots over and over again in search of the same exact shot.
You’d have to be pretty brave to immerse your $50K RED cinema camera underwater. But if you've got the guts, Gates just released a new housing you can be pretty sure won't wreck your unbelievably expensive toy.
Adobe has released a 'Lightroom Downloader' app for Windows 10 and macOS High Sierra that allows you to download all of your images from the Adobe Cloud, all at once.
After releasing a popular 4K action cam and an affordable mirrorless M43 camera, Chinese camera maker YI is diving into yet another market: 360° VR. Meet the YI 360 VR: a powerful little two-lens camera that can shoot and stream in 4K.
The DJI Spark has received a lot of attention thanks to its diminutive size, but how does it stack up? In our review, we take a look at what it's like to fly this pint-sized drone, as well as what's in it for photographers.
Between now and the end of the year we'll be counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Coming in at #10 is a fast wide prime and part of the highly-acclaimed Sigma Art series.
DxOMark has awarded the Pentax 645Z 101 points, making it the second-highest scoring medium format camera it's tested (or the highest scoring from 2015 to now, based on the originally published results).
A small explosion that sounded like a gunshot caused a panic and 24 flight cancellations at Orlando International Airport last Friday. As it turns out, it was a camera battery that exploded inside a traveler's bag.
At last, a premium superzoom bridge camera with phase detect autofocus. Is this the best all-in-one camera ever made? Read on.