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
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.
Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its full-frame D810: the D850. Nikon says that the D850 will build on the strengths of its predecessor and offer 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements.'
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has the worst effect on youth mental health.