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Canon G15 vs Olympus E-PL3

The Canon PowerShot G15 and the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and June 2011. The G15 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-PL3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (G15) and a Four Thirds (E-PL3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon G15
versus
Olympus E-PL3
Canon G15   Olympus E-PL3
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
12 MP – 1/1.7" sensor 12.2 MP – Four Thirds sensor
1080/24p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 80-12,800 ISO 200-12,800
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD – 922k dots 3.0" LCD – 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (no touchscreen)
2.1 shutter flaps per second 5.5 shutter flaps per second
Lens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
350 shots per battery charge300 shots per battery charge
107 x 76 x 40 mm, 352 g 110 x 64 x 37 mm, 313 g
Canon G15:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-PL3:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G15 and the Olympus PEN E-PL3? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon G15 and the Olympus E-PL3 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-PL3 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the G15 is only available in black.

Size Canon G15 vs Olympus E-PL3
Compare G15 versus E-PL3 top
Comparison G15 or E-PL3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL3 is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Canon G15. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G15 nor the E-PL3 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G15 has a lens built in, whereas the E-PL3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-PL3 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the G15 gets 350 shots out of its NB-10L battery, while the E-PL3 can take 300 images on a single charge of its BLS-5 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
4.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
7.
 
Canon G12 112 mm 76 mm 48 mm 401 g 370 n Sep 2010 499i
8.
 
Fujifilm X20 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 353 g 270 n Jan 2013 599i
9.
 
Fujifilm X10 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 350 g 270 n Sep 2011 599i
10.
 
Nikon P7800 119 mm 78 mm 50 mm 399 g 350 n Sep 2013 549i
11.
 
Olympus E-PL5 111 mm 64 mm 38 mm 325 g 360 n Sep 2012 599i
12.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
16.
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The G15 was launched at a lower price than the E-PL3, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G15 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Olympus E-PL3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL3 is 423 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Canon G15 and Olympus E-PL3 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the E-PL3 offers a higher resolution than the G15 (12MP), but the E-PL3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 1.89μm for the G15) due to its larger sensor. However, the G15 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 2 months) than the E-PL3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The Canon PowerShot G15 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

G15 versus E-PL3 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-PL3 has a markedly higher DXO score than the G15 (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
2.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
3.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
4.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
5.
 
Canon S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.924656
6.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
7.
 
Canon G12 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/24p20.411.216147
8.
 
Fujifilm X20 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p20.110.9-46246
9.
 
Fujifilm X10 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.511.324550
10.
 
Nikon P7800 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p21.211.720054
11.
 
Olympus E-PL5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972
12.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
13.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
16.
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.714750
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the E-PL3 provides a faster frame rate than the G15. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/24p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the G15 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon G15, the Olympus E-PL3, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon G15optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1/s Y Y
2.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
3.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2/s Y Y
5.
 
Canon S120none n3.0 / 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX50202 n3.0 / 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon G12optical n2.8 / 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1/s Y Y
8.
 
Fujifilm X20optical n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 12.0/s Y Y
9.
 
Fujifilm X10optical n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0/s Y Y
10.
 
Nikon P7800921 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 8.0/s Y Y
11.
 
Olympus E-PL5optional n3.0 / 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0/s n Y
12.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n3.0 / 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
13.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y Y
16.
 
Panasonic LX7optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0/s Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The G15 has one, while the E-PL3 does not. While the built-in flash of the G15 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The E-PL3 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the G15 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the G15 and the E-PL3 write their files to SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot G15 and Olympus PEN E-PL3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon G15Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX60Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Canon S120-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Canon SX50Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon G12Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Fujifilm X20Ystereo / mono--micro2.0---
9.
 
Fujifilm X10Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon P7800Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-PL5Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo / ---mini2.0---

Both the G15 and the E-PL3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL3 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL5, while the G15 was followed by the Canon G16. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon G15 or the Olympus E-PL3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot G15:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 460k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-PL3 requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (350 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 2 months after the E-PL3).

ilogo

Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL3:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/24p).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 2.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 107x76mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL3 comes out slightly ahead of the G15 (9 : 8 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

G15 08:09 E-PL3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G15 and the Olympus E-PL3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the G15 and the E-PL3 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon G154/5+..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +..72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
4.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon S120..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
7.
 
Canon G124/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499i
8.
 
Fujifilm X204/5+ +..77/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2013 599i
9.
 
Fujifilm X10......76/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2011 599i
10.
 
Nikon P78003/5......4/54.5/5 Sep 2013 549i
11.
 
Olympus E-PL53/5+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
12.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/100..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
16.
 
Panasonic LX73/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +..76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon G15:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-PL3:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon G15 vs Olympus E-PL3

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon G15 Olympus E-PL3
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2012 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon G15 Olympus E-PL3
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/1.7" Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 7.6 x 5.7 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 43.32 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 9.5 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 4.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.89 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 27.70 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 12,800 ISO 200 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 5 Truepic VI
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 46 52
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 19.9 20.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.5 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 165 499
    Screen Specs Canon G15 Olympus E-PL3
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 80%
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Canon G15 Olympus E-PL3
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.1 shutter flaps/s 5.5 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon G15 Olympus E-PL3
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon G15 Olympus E-PL3
    Battery Type NB-10L BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)350 shots per charge300 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 107 x 76 x 40 mm
    (4.2 x 3.0 x 1.6 in)
    110 x 64 x 37 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 352 g (12.4 oz) 313 g (11.0 oz)
    Canon G15:
    Check Ebay offers
    Olympus E-PL3:
    Check Ebay offers

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