Capture Life's Moments in Style with the Olympus PEN E-P3: A Comprehensive Review

In this blog post, we provide an in-depth review of the Olympus PEN E-P3 camera and how it can help you capture your favorite memories in stunning quality. We cover its features and benefits, including its sleek design, high-resolution image quality, and continuous autofocus capabilities. Our article is perfect for those who want to upgrade their photography skills and capture life's moments in style.

Written by Victor Chan | Updated: Mon May 01 2023

Olympus PEN E-P3 article cover photo

Key Features

Aug 17 2011


12 megapixels


Sensor TypeFour Thirds

Other similar cameras

Olympus PEN E-PL3 thumbnail

Olympus PEN E-PL3

Released Sep 20 2011 | 12MP resolution

Olympus PEN E-PL2 thumbnail

Olympus PEN E-PL2

Released Feb 11 2011 | 12MP resolution

Olympus PEN E-PM1 thumbnail

Olympus PEN E-PM1

Released Nov 23 2011 | 12MP resolution

Overview of the PEN E-P3

Are you looking for a camera that can help you take your photography to the next level? Look no further than the Olympus PEN E-P3. This camera packs a punch with its advanced features, making it an ideal choice for both amateur and professional photographers. Whether you're taking family portraits, traveling to exotic destinations, or simply capturing everyday moments, the Olympus PEN E-P3 delivers stunning image quality, sleek design, and easy-to-use controls. In this review, we'll dive into the specific features that make this camera stand out and why it should be your next investment.

Olympus PEN E-P3 Pros and Cons

Now, we will look more closely at our review of the Olympus PEN E-P3 camera. We will see what it can do and compare it to other cameras like it. We will tell you what's good about it and what's not so good. This way, you'll know if it's the camera for you!


High resolution (12.3 megapixels)
Fast autofocus system
Sleek and compact design
Good image stabilization
Customizable settings
Good low-light performance
Art Filters for creative effects
Fast continuous shooting speed
Wide range of interchangeable lenses
Built-in flash


Expensive compared to similar cameras
No built-in viewfinder
Limited battery life
No weather sealing
Limited video capabilities (no 4K)
Lacks touchscreen interface
Smaller sensor than some competitors
Limited ISO range compared to higher-end cameras.

Build and Construction

Body and dimensions

Olympus PEN E-P3

Weather sealed
Dimensions122 x 69 x 34mm

Weather Sealing

The Olympus PEN E-P3 is not sealed against water and dust, so it's important to be careful when using it in such conditions. If you often shoot in environments with water or dust, it's recommended to check out another camera with weather sealing.

Design and Handling

Main design features

View FinderElectronic (optional)
Screen TypeFixed Type
Screen Resolution614k dots
Body typeRangefinder-style mirrorless

Suitable for:

PhotographyAbove Avg.
VideographyAbove Avg.
TravelAbove Avg.

LCD Screen

This camera has a fixed type 3.00" screen, with a display resolution of 614k dots. This makes the Olympus PEN E-P3 not as suitable for those looking for a vlogging camera as you cannot view yourself while shooting selfies easily. The camera also features a touch screen, which adds to its ease of use.


PEN E-P3 includes a electronic (optional) viewfinder with no electronic viewfinder of resolution with a coverage of n/a and a magnification of n/a. This feature enhances the camera's suitability for outdoor photography in bright conditions.

Image Quality

Olympus PEN E-P3 has a 12MP sized CMOS sensor. You can shoot at maximum resolution of 12 pixels. Olympus PEN E-P3 has a native ISO range of 100 - 12800 which can be boosted to null - null. It can also save files in RAW format which gives you a wider room for post processing.

Key Features

Aug 17 2011


100 - 12800

ISO Range

SensorFour Thirds
Extended ISOnull - null
Max resolution4032 x 3024 pixels

DXO Sensor Scores


51 / 102

Color Depth

20.8 / 26.5

Dynamic Range

10.1 / 14.8

Low Light ISO

536 / 4505

DXO mark sensor scores

The DXOmark rankings indicate that the Olympus PEN E-P3 camera has average color depth performance, which refers to the number of colors the sensor can distinguish. Additionally, its dynamic range is also average, allowing it to retain low amounts of details in both bright and dark areas of a scene. The camera's low light ISO performance is poor, which is an important factor to consider if you plan to use it in dimly lit indoor environments or at night. Overall the image quality of the PEN E-P3 is below average

Crop Factor

Camera crop factor (or focal length multiplier) refers to how a camera's sensor size affects the apparent field of view of a lens. Crop factor is determined by comparing the size of a camera's sensor to that of a full-frame sensor, which is a standard reference size for camera sensors.

Size comparison

Medium FormatFull FrameAPS-C (Sony, Nikon)

Crop factor calculator

Crop factor


Full frame equivalent


This camera: Four Thirds



Connectivity, storage, battery

StorageSD/SDHC/SDXC card
Battery Life330 shots
Battery ModelBLS-5
Wireless Connectivity


The Olympus PEN E-P3 supports SD/SDHC/SDXC card with 1 slots for storage. This may suffice for everyday use. However, for professional applications such as wedding photography, it is not recommended as a memory card malfunction could lead to the loss of all footage.


The Olympus PEN E-P3 uses the BLS-5 model of battery pack. This is rated for 330 shots shots which is high. If you intend to take photos or record videos for an extended period, it might be a good idea to bring along additional batteries.

Photography Features


The Olympus PEN E-P3 has built in flash which is great for event photography and in low light situations. It also offers a flash shoe that allows you to attach external flashes. This provides more versatility in your lighting choices.


The Olympus PEN E-P3 boasts a maximum mechanical shutter speed of 1/4000s, which is ideal for shooting fast-moving subjects in bright environments, such as in sports photography. Faster shutter speeds enable you to freeze the action and capture every detail, making it easier to get the perfect shot.

With a continuous mechanical shutter speed of n/a or an electronic shutter speed of n/a, this camera is not capable of capturing the perfect moment more easily, making it not as suited for wedding, sports, and wildlife photography. Higher shutter speeds make it easier to capture fast-paced action, ensuring that you never miss the perfect shot.


The Olympus PEN E-P3 includes contrast detection autofocus (AF), with 35 number of focus points.

While contrast detection is generally more accurate and precise, phase detection autofocus is faster and more effective in most situations, particularly when photographing moving subjects.

Phase detection autofocus works by dividing the incoming light into pairs and then analyzing how they intersect on the camera's sensor. This method allows the camera to determine not only if a subject is in focus but also the direction and distance needed to adjust the focus to achieve perfect sharpness.

On the other hand, contrast detection autofocus works by analyzing the contrast of an image and adjusting the focus until the highest contrast is detected. While this method is very accurate, it can be slow, especially in low light conditions or when photographing moving subjects.

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What is the sensor size of the Olympus PEN E-P3?

The Olympus PEN E-P3 features a CMOS sensor

Is the Olympus PEN E-P3 weather sealed?

No the PEN E-P3 does not have weather sealing.

When was the Olympus PEN E-P3 announced?

The Olympus PEN E-P3 was announced on Aug 17 2011

Does the Olympus PEN E-P3 have in-body image stabilization?

Yes the PEN E-P3 does have in-body image stabilization that can compensate for camera shake, making it easier to shoot handheld in low light conditions.

What is the ISO range of the Olympus PEN E-P3?

The PEN E-P3 has a native ISO range of 100-12800, which can be expanded to ISO null-null for even greater sensitivity in low light conditions.

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