Updated (September, 2012): Compare the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 vs Olympus PEN E-PL5

Olympus PEN E-PL3

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Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3

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Olympus PEN E-PL2

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Olympus PEN E-PL2

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Reasons to buy the Olympus PEN E-PL3

In-camera panoramas
Panorama
Stitches together multiple photos into a panorama
Takes 3D photos
3D
View photos in 3D on 3D televisions
Barely any delay taking photos
Shutter lag
241 ms shutter lag
Interchangeable lenses
Interchangeable lenses
Many lenses to choose from
 

Reasons to buy the Olympus PEN E-PL2

Panorama
In-camera panoramas
Stitches together multiple photos into a panorama
Interchangeable lenses
Interchangeable lenses
Many lenses to choose from
Built-in flash
Built-in flash
External flash not needed
 

differences

Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL2

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Startup delay
Less startup delay
1300 ms vs 2100 ms
Help
Around 40% less delay when turning on
Color depth
Better color depth
21.4 bits vs 20.9 bits
Help
Distinguishes 0.5 more bits of color
Overall image quality
Slightly better image quality
55.0 vs 52.0
Help
Around 10% better image quality
Low light performance
Slightly lower noise at high ISO
573 ISO vs 499 ISO
Help
The PEN E-PL2 has a slight edge (0.2 f-stops) in low noise, high ISO performance
Built-in flash
Built-in flash
Yes vs No
Help
A built-in flash is useful for taking indoor shots where there is little light
Olympus PEN E-PL2 Learn more about
the Olympus PEN E-PL2

Advantages of the Olympus E-PL3

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3D
Takes 3D photos
Yes vs No
Help
Combines multiple photos into a 3D image
Movie format
Higher resolution movies
1080p @ 30fps vs 720p @ 30fps
Help
Shoots higher resolution Full HD (1080p) video
Shutter lag
Significantly less shutter lag
241 ms vs 434 ms
Help
More than 40% less delay when taking photos
Focus points
More focus points
35 vs 11
Help
Set focus accurately within the frame
Battery life
Slightly longer battery life
300 shots vs 280 shots
Help
Around 10% more shots per battery charge
Continuous shooting
Shoots slightly faster
5.5 fps vs 3 fps
Help
More than 80% faster continuous shooting
Size
Smaller
109x63x37 mm vs 115x72x42 mm
Help
Around 30% smaller
Light sensitivity
Better maximum light sensitivity
12,800 ISO vs 6,400 ISO
Help
The E-PL3's maximum light sensitivity is 1 f-stop better
Lowest price
Cheaper
$285.95 vs $648.15
Help
The best price we've seen is $362 cheaper (2.3x less)
Weight
Lighter
313 g vs 362 g
Help
More than 10% lighter
Thickness
Thinner
1.5" vs 1.7"
Help
More than 10% thinner
Light sensitivity (boost)
Has boost ISO
12,800 ISO vs None
Help
Allows taking photos in darker situations, often at the cost of additional noise in the image
Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 Learn more about
the Olympus E-PL3
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recommendations

Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent mirrorless cameras, and ignoring price

Olympus PEN E-PL2 Olympus PEN E-PL2 42
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        42 Olympus PEN E-PL3 Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3
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              similarities

              Compared to recent mirrorless cameras

              Common Strengths
              Image stabilization Good image stabilization Help
              Sensor shift
              Lens availability Many lenses available Help
              40 lenses
              Movie continuous focus Focus continuously recording movies Help
              Makes it easy to get in-focus movies
              Sensor cleaning Self cleaning sensors Help
              Avoids dust in your photos
              Longest exposure Very long exposure times Help
              60 seconds
              External flash Each supports an external flash Help
              Better lighting
              Common Weaknesses
              Fastest shutter speed Slow max shutter speed Help
              1/4000 of a second
              HDR Neither has in-camera HDR Help
              You could do HDR manually
              Dynamic range Poor dynamic range Help
              PEN E-PL2:10.2 EV
              E-PL3:10.3 EV
              Screen flips out No flip-out screens Help
              Less flexible
              True resolution Capture low resolution images Help
              12.2 MP
              Supports 24p No support for 24p Help
              Missing that film look
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons
              Screen resolution Low resolution screens Help
              460k dots
              Focus points Few focus points Help
              PEN E-PL2:11
              E-PL3:35
              Color depth Poor color depth Help
              PEN E-PL2:21.4 bits
              E-PL3:20.9 bits
              External mic jack Neither has an external mic jack Help
              Limited to the in-camera mic
              Battery life Few shots per battery charge Help
              PEN E-PL2:280 shots
              E-PL3:300 shots
              Viewfinder No viewfinders Help
              Can only preview photos on the screen
              Sensor size Very small sensors Help
              Four thirds 17.3x13.0mm
              Overall image quality Low image quality Help
              PEN E-PL2:55.0
              E-PL3:52.0
              Weather sealed Neither is weather sealed Help
              Need to shelter it from weather
              Low light performance Above average noise at high ISO Help
              PEN E-PL2:573 ISO
              E-PL3:499 ISO

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $407 with 14-42mm lens

              Overall image quality Has significantly better image quality
              Color depth Has significantly more color depth
              Sensor type Has a CCD-family sensor
              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              Startup delay Has slightly more startup delay
              Olympus PEN E-PL1

              Olympus PEN E-PL1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $550 with 14-42mm lens

              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Panorama Lacks a built in panoramas
              Olympus PEN E-PM2

              Olympus PEN E-PM2

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $485 with 14-42mm lens

              Overall image quality Has significantly better image quality
              Color depth Has significantly more color depth
              Olympus PEN E-P3

              Olympus PEN E-P3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $399 body only

              Screen resolution Has a slightly higher resolution screen
              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Olympus PEN E-P2

              Olympus PEN E-P2

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $289 body only

              $429 with 17mm lens

              Panorama Lacks a built in panoramas
              Shutter lag Has much more shutter lag
              Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2

              Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $238 body only

              $295 - $799 with 14mm lens

              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Panorama Lacks a built in panoramas
              Shutter lag Has slightly more shutter lag

              Olympus PEN E-PL2 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              No significant competitors found that are specific to the Olympus PEN E-PL2.

              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Fujifilm Finepix X10

              Fujifilm Finepix X10

              Pro digicam

              $400 - $659

              Viewfinder Has a viewfinder
              HDR Has in-camera HDR
              Interchangeable lenses Built-in lens only
              3D Doesn't take 3D photos

              appearance

              Olympus PEN E-PL2 Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3
              Olympus PEN E-PL2 Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3
              Olympus PEN E-PL2 Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3

              discussion

              Olympus PEN E-PL2
              PEN E-PL2
              Olympus

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              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3
              PEN E-PL3
              Olympus

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              Showing 3 comments

              Avatar for Nas Nas (1:34 PM, January 07, 2012)
              E-pl3 has 16:9 3'' screen. For actual still shots you need to crop down to 4:3 which effectively gives you a 2.4'' screen with black bars on either side.
               
              Avatar for Snapsort Snapsort (2:37 PM, November 18, 2011)
              Thanks for pointing that out, we've fixed up the E-PL2 specs!
               
              Imyourmom (7:48 AM, November 18, 2011)
              the e-pl2 does not have an external mic jack. Both e-pl2 and e-pl3 require the sema hot shoe adapter.