Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First impressions: Olympus EP-3

A good impression..
I managed to meet up with the public relations people for Olympus Camera Malaysia and talked them into loaning one of their micro four-third system for my food walkabout.
To test it out, I brought the Olympus Pen EP-3 for a spin.
It was my second century ride to Bagan Lalang and I tested this camera which was equipped with a 14-42mm lens.
Now, unlike Panasonic and Samsung, the Olympus micro four-third system is well-backed.
You don't have to worry about lenses and accessories.
Compared to the Pana-retard's Lumix series cameras, the Pen series cameras are never short of surprises. Which is impressive.


My loan camera: the Olympus EP-3




Image quality
On a scale of 1-10, the picture quality on an Olympus Pen would rate at 5.5.
The lens that came with my loan camera is an entry-level piece.
In short, its a coke-bottle lens.
I don't have high expectations on the 14-42mm lens, which makes a really cool 'walkabout' lens on the compact EP-3. 
Truth to be told, there are high-quality lenses made by third-party manufacturers that you can use to snap better images with the EP-3.
But the 14-42mm lens is a good start.
With a price tag of RM3.19K, the EP-3 is not for the beginner. 
It complements your D-SLR system on sets that don't require all the extra bells and whistles.
Most of the shots taken on the EP-3 was point-and-shoot. So, I don't really expect a lot.
Its a departure from using an 'enthusiast' compact camera like the Canon Powershot G12 which I've gotten so used to.


One tough mutha!
All good things said and done, I am pretty impressed with the overall built quality of the EP-3. Even though its made entire in China.
The QC on the body was really good.
I am not used to the controls and could not find an exposure lock and many of the self-timed shots were underexposed.
The pop-up flash on this camera is also too weak to fill-in for simple snapshot images.
Compared to the G12, the EP3 is flawed with its built-in flash.
Other than that, I don't have much to complain about the overall image quality as 70% of the captured shots were decent.
With the zoom lens, you can actually shoot with dept-of-field.
There are eight shooting mode including movie, I only used three at the most.
The preset shooting mode was some funky art filter. I had to re-set the camera to its factory settings to get the most out of it.
And when it comes to testing this baby, I took it out for two trips.
First was to Bagan Lalang and the second outing was to Tanjung Piai. 
The battery life on the EP-3 exceeded my expectations and I must say that it pretty much held up to the continous shooting and review on the LCD screen. It took some effort to wear down the battery.


Sample shots





Summary
The EP-3 is a fun and pretty nippy camera to play with.
It has a range of lens you can acquire to enhance your range of photographic angles. From landscape to portraiture, the possibilities are endless.
My only beef with this camera is the touch-screen snapshots, which is unnecessary (it clicks when it comes to contact with your body).
Otherwise, the Olympus Pen EP-3 is a worthwhile system to consider if you want something small and un-intrusive for your work.
As for shooting food photos for my Food Trail column, the Pen cameras are a good choice.

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