Olympus PEN Lite / E-PL3 Review
Olympus was the first manufacturer to offer in-camera processing filters with the E-30 DSLR back in 2008. The idea of these is to offer a range of pre-baked 'artistic' effects which the users can apply directly to images as they shoot without having to mess around later on in Photoshop.
Like it's predecessor, the E-PL2, the PEN Lite offers six basic filters, several of which have multiple variants. These filters can also be combined with a range of 'effects' that have been expanded in the E-PL3 to include 'pin-hole', 'white edge' (similar to pin-hole, but with white rather than black vignetting) and 'starlight' which mimics the effect of a cross-screen filter. The rollover below shows how these look - click here to see the same image processed normally, using the default 'Natural' Picture Mode. In the bottom row we're illustrating the various Effects in combination with the Pop Art I filter. Needless to say, not every filter works well with every image.
Because the PEN Lite has identical image quality as the E-P3 and also shares the same processing algorithms for filters and effects common to both cameras, the rollover image comparison below is comprised of photographs shot with the E-P3.
|Pop Art I||Pop Art II||Soft Focus||Grainy Film I||Grainy Film II|
|Pin Hole I||Pin Hole II||Pin Hole III||Diorama||Dramatic Tone|
|PA I + Soft Focus||PA I + Pin Hole||PA I + White Edge||PA I + Frame||PA I + Star Light|
Variants and Effects
The full range of available variants and effects is detailed in the table below. Overall there's a huge array of options (by our reckoning, 53 in total), so even the most sceptical of owners is likely to find something here that they find appealing.
|Art 1 - Pop Art||I ( Lighter)
II ( Darker)
| • Soft Focus
• White Edge
• Star Light
|Art 2 - Soft Focus||n/a|| • White Edge
• Star Light
|Art 3 - Grainy Film||I (Higher Contrast)
II (Lower Contrast)
| • Pin-Hole
• White Edge
|Art 4 - Pin Hole||I (Greenish)
|Art 5 - Diorama||n/a||n/a|
|Art 6 - Dramatic Tone||n/a|| • Frame
• Star Light
• White Edge
Shooting with Art Filters
The PEN Lite offers two ways of shooting with Art Filters. The simpler is to switch the mode dial to the ART position - you can then select the filter you wish to use by pressing the OK button, with the 'right' key of the 4-way controller providing access to the variants and effects. The filter is previewed live in real time; you can select from two preview modes in the Custom menu, one of which prioritizes preview accuracy over frame rate, and the other vice versa.
In the ART position the E-PL3 essentially works in program exposure mode, allowing both exposure compensation and program shift via the control dials. You get full control over all of the camera's settings, and can record raw files if you choose (handy if you later decide that an image would look better with different processing).
Art Filters are also available in the PASM exposure modes, in this case under the guise of Picture Modes. They can be set very quickly using the Super Control Panel, but you can't tweak the settings from here - to change the effect you have to go through the menu system (Shooting Menu 1), which involves a lot more button pressing.
It's also possible to apply Art Filters to raw files, using either the in-camera raw processing, or the supplied Olympus [ib] software (Windows only). Olympus Viewer 2 is a cross-platform editing application available as a free download. One benefit of using one of Olympus' software options is that you gain access to four additional filters (Pale&Light Color, Light Tone, Gentle Sepia and Cross-Process) that are included in the filter menu of the E-P3, but not in that of the E-PL3. And unlike with the in-camera adjustments, you can combine multiple effects with a single filter.
It's possible to record movies using art filters, but some limitations apply for those which require more extensive processing. Using the Soft Focus, Grainy Film, Pinhole or Dramatic Tone filters, movies are recorded at a reduced frame rate, and then played-back in real time in what can be a visibly jerky fashion. The precise frame rate varies between filters, ranging from 6fps for Soft Focus, Grainy Film, and Dramatic Tone, to just 2fps for Pinhole.
In Diorama mode, the camera records at about 2fps but without sound, and then plays back the movie back sped-up to 15fps. This is surprisingly effective, giving something resembling a stop-motion animation. But it really does demand the use of a tripod for best results, as speeding up the playback really accentuates the inevitable movement you get between frames when shooting hand-held.
Sep 20, 2011
Jan 19, 2012
Aug 29, 2011
Sep 18, 2014
TIME Magazine has named the Sony a7R III one of its top 10 gadgets of 2017. It was the only camera that made the illustrious list this year, receiving high praise from TIME, who dubbed it "one of the best mirrorless cameras ever made."
Thanks to Google Assistant integration, the Pixel 2's AI-powered 'Google Lens' camera feature will soon be easier and quicker to use.
Photographer Jenna Martin and her model friend Rachelle Kathleen set themselves a challenge: could they create beautiful portraits in an 'ugly' location? So they went to a local Lowe's hardware store and gave it a go!
The LG V30 differentiates itself from the competition with an expansive video feature set and a secondary wide angle camera, making it something of a Swiss Army knife for content creators.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Holding down the top position is none other than the Nikon D850 – by a landslide.
It's been twenty years since Jeff Keller founded the Digital Camera Resource Page, one of the first websites dedicated to digital photography. Jeff, who has been at DPReview for nearly five years, looks back at the rise and fall of consumer digital cameras and his website.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At #2 we have another staff favorite – the Sony Alpha a9.
Rotolight has released the Anova Pro 2 circular LED for stills and video, boasting a 70% increase in brightness and what the company describes as "unrivaled battery performance."
Designer Vinicius Araújo has imagined what he believes the perfect Adobe software keyboard might look like. From customizable touch pads, to a scroll wheel, to a little display that shows the tool in use, his design is pretty compelling.
Peak Design has teamed up with Leica to release a limited-edition backpack made special for fans of the Red Dot.
A portrait of an android woman has beaten over 5,700 pictures of humans to take third place in this year’s prestigious Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. The judges were not told the subject was an 'android' until after the winning images were chosen.
Hauling around C-Stands just got a whole lot less annoying thanks to these new Matthews shoulder and roller bags, which can hold two or three C-stand (respectively) plus accessories.
Neal Preston has shot timeless photos of everyone from Led Zeppelin, to Whitney Houston, to Michael Jackson. In this interview, he offers insights into his craft to up-and-comer Elijah Dominique.
Future prosumer Canon DSLRs might feature light-up buttons, if this newly published patent is any indication of the camera company's plans.
Sony's a7R Mark III shoots 42.4MP files at 10fps and incorporates a robust video feature set, large battery, refined ergonomics and more. It certainly looks impressive, but what is it like to use, and how does it stack up against the rest of the market? Find out in our full review.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017 – the Fujifilm X100F takes the bronze and the #3 spot.
There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.
Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets and picked the best of the bunch.
Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.
Despite reports to the contrary, analysis of DPReview images by our friend Jim Kasson confirms a disappointing fact: Sony a7R III is still a Star Eater. But there may be some improvements.
As the saying goes: A photo is worth a thousand words. And if you're sending that photo through Facebook Messenger, your thousand words now look twice as nice after today's update to 4K resolution.
Get to know the new Leica CL in short order by giving our 90 second 'First look' video a watch.
Leica has just released the CL, the forth in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Despite sharing a name with a camera released in the mid-70s, the new CL is a thoroughly modern ILC, with a 24MP sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder.
The Leica CL is a 24MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, which sits alongside the TL2 in the company's APS-C lineup. We've been using one for a few days – check out our gallery of images.
While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. We've been using one for a few days - click through for a detailed first-impressions report.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #4 ranking goes to the Leica M10.
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!