When you pick up the E-P3, you’ll realise how well built it is. While a little larger than expected, the body just feels so solid, like the way a camera should. The lightweight plastic lenses are something of an unsatisfying contrast.
Things get better, though, when you turn the E-P3, and for the most part, it’s very easy to use, with lots of options along the guide wheel at your disposal. If you choose “iAuto”, you’ll let the camera do its thing, working out exposure and shutter speed as needed. You can also customise this mode, by tapping on the screen to change image saturation, brightness, and focus levels.
Scene modes allow you to use choose the appropriate shooting option for your environment – portrait, landscape, macro, fireworks, etc – and if you’re feeling playful, there’s the “Art” mode. This allows you to apply various filter affects to images, and includes: sepia, high contrast black-and-white, cross-processed vintage looks, and even a miniature “diorama” mode.
More experienced photographers may want to will switch between the four manual modes: Program (P), Shutter priority (S), Aperture priority (A), and of course, Manual (M). The rear scrollwheel and silver wheel will let you change aperture and shutter speed quickly, while the “OK” button in the middle of the directional pad will give you quick access to white balance, ISO, auto-focus type, face priority, colour balance, and more. Essentially this provides you with a faster icon-based version of the menu, and is always available under the menu options.
Touchscreen focus is also there, allowing you to literally touch and fire a shot. This is quite handy, as you can track what you want to shoot by touching a point on the screen. The autofocus is very quick, focusing and firing almost immediately after tapping on the screen.
When using the regular shutter button, autofocus was quick and responsive, only stopping when we got too close for the lenses to actually detect anything. In fact, when switching from the 14-42mm to the longer 40-150mm lens, we found the focus very quick, enabling us to capture scenes with ease.
As for the question of image quality, we found the images often to be sharp with strong colours. We’re not sure if you can say the smaller sensor found in the Micro Four-Thirds system won’t produce images as strong as another camera, but we were mostly satisfied with what we were seeing.