Canon T2i vs Olympus E-PL3
The Canon EOS Rebel T2i (called Canon 550D in some regions) and the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2010 and June 2011. The T2i is a DSLR, while the E-PL3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (T2i) and a Four Thirds (E-PL3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel T2i 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon T2i and the Olympus E-PL3 are illustrated 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL3 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the T2i is only available in black.
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 considerably smaller (44 percent) than the Canon T2i. Moreover, the E-PL3 is substantially lighter (41 percent) than the T2i. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T2i nor the E-PL3 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (T2i) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL3). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL3, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.
|1.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|7.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|8.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|9.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|10.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|11.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|12.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-PL3 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 14 percent) than the T2i, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon T2i features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL3 is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the T2i has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL3 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 17.9MP, the T2i offers a higher resolution than the E-PL3 (12.2MP), but the T2i nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PL3) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-PL3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the T2i, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon T2i implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the T2i for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL3 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS Rebel T2i has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the T2i provides substantially higher image quality than the E-PL3, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 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.
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the E-PL3 provides a faster frame rate than the T2i. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the T2i 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon T2i and Olympus E-PL3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon T100||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon T3||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon XSi||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|12.||Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0/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 T2i has one, while the E-PL3 does not. While the built-in flash of the T2i 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 T2i does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the T2i and the E-PL3 write their files to SDXC cards.
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 EOS Rebel T2i and Olympus PEN E-PL3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon T2i||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon T6s||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon T5i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon T4i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon T3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon T3i||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon T1i||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon XSi||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon XTi||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the T2i has a microphone port, which is missing on the E-PL3. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the T2i and the E-PL3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The T2i was replaced by the Canon T3i, while the E-PL3 was followed by the Olympus E-PL5. 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.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon T2i better than the Olympus E-PL3 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel T2i:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 12.2MP) with a 24% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 460k dots).
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2010).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL3:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- 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 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 217g or 41 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 4 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the T2i comes out slightly ahead of the E-PL3 (11 : 10 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon T2i and the Olympus E-PL3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the T2i or the E-PL3 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.
|1.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Canon T100||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|5.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|6.||Canon T5i||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|7.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|8.||Canon T3||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|9.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|10.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|11.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|12.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 10D vs Olympus E-PL3
- Canon 1300D vs Canon T2i
- Canon G1 X Mark III vs Olympus E-PL3
- Canon T2i vs Canon T4i
- Canon T2i vs Nikon 1 J4
- Canon T2i vs Nikon B500
- Canon T2i vs Nikon D5600
- Canon T2i vs Pentax K-5
- Leica V-LUX Typ 114 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic GF7
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic TS7
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Sony A7
Specifications: Canon T2i 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 Model||Canon T2i||Olympus E-PL3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T2i||Olympus E-PL3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||Truepic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||20.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||499|
|Screen Specs||Canon T2i||Olympus E-PL3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T2i||Olympus E-PL3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-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 T2i||Olympus E-PL3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon T2i||Olympus E-PL3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
110 x 64 x 37 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||313 g (11.0 oz)|
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