Olympus PEN E-P3 in-depth review
Operations and controls
Top of camera controls
The E-P3's top plate has been slightly reshuffled, with the exposure mode dial moving across beside the shutter release to make space for the built-in flash. Also on the top is the conveniently-placed power button, and a customisable 'Fn2' where exposure compensation used to be. But overall it's pretty clean and simple. In this shot you can also clearly see the new red movie record button.
Rear of camera controls
The majority of the E-P3's controls are on the back of the camera, well-placed for operation by your right thumb. The overall appearance and layout will look immediately familiar to owners of the E-P1/2, but the button functionality is rather different, and follows the logic of the E-PL2 instead. In many regards this is a good thing - but not all.
The E-Px line's outstanding feature is still present and correct - namely the excellent vertical thumbwheel that's used to control shooting settings. It's a little smaller than before, but we've found it to be just as usable in practice. It's joined by Olympus's familiar combined 4-way controller / rear dial, which is no better or worse than on previous cameras. Luckily the dials are highly customisable, so if you find the rear dial too fiddly you can turn it off and rely on the thumb roller instead.
The top two of the column of five buttons are new to the E-P series, and essentially carried across from the E-PL2. First is a direct movie record button, which means you don't have to switch modes to start recording a video (always a good thing). If you're not interested in recording movies, this can be re-assigned to wide range of other functions.
Below it is the 'magnify' key, which in record mode is used to zoom into the live view display to check fine focus. It's really useful if you shoot with manual focus lenses at all, but its operation is a little perverse; you can't simply press it once to magnify the display (as you would on most other cameras), but instead have to press it once to change display mode and select your point of interest, then again to zoom in.
The functions on the 4-way controller are the same as the E-PL2, rather than the previous E-Pxs. This means the direct ISO control button has disappeared, replaced by exposure compensation, and white balance has been replaced by flash mode. The left key now changes AF area rather than focus mode, which is particularly useful in concert with the E-P3's new 35-area focus system. The 'right' and 'down' keys are customisable, and can be reassigned to shooting functions such as ISO and white balance if you prefer. But - frustratingly - you can only ever get direct access to two of flash mode, drive mode, white balance and ISO at any given time.
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