Canon T3 vs Olympus E-P1
The Canon EOS Rebel T3 (called Canon 1100D in some regions) and the Olympus PEN E-P1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2011 and June 2009. The T3 is a DSLR, while the E-P1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (T3) and a Four Thirds (E-P1) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixels.
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 T3 and the Olympus PEN E-P1? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon T3 and the Olympus E-P1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-P1 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the T3 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-P1 is considerably smaller (35 percent) than the Canon T3. Moreover, the E-P1 is markedly lighter (28 percent) than the T3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T3 nor the E-P1 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 (T3) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-P1, 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon XS||126 mm||98 mm||65 mm||502 g||500||n||Jun 2008||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GH1||124 mm||90 mm||45 mm||385 g||300||n||Mar 2009||899||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The T3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 44 percent) than the E-P1, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 T3 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-P1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-P1 is 30 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 T3 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-P1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Even though the T3 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This implies that the T3 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.15μm versus 4.29μm for the E-P1), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the T3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the E-P1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
The Canon EOS Rebel T3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The Olympus PEN E-P1 offers exactly the same ISO settings.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the T3 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-P1 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 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-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|5.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|16.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|17.||Panasonic GH1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (720/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the T3 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon T3, the Olympus E-P1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon T3||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon T100||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T5||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX50||202||n||3.0 / 461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon T4i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon XS||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/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-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|17.||Panasonic GH1||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|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 T3 has one, while the E-P1 does not. While the built-in flash of the T3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The T3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-P1 uses SDHC 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 T3 and Olympus PEN E-P1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon T3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon T5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon SX50||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon T4i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon T3i||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon T2i||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon XS||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon XSi||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon XTi||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic GH1||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the T3 and the E-P1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-P1 was replaced by the Olympus E-P2, while the T3 was followed by the Canon T5. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon T3 or the Olympus E-P1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel T3:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (700 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 into a lower priced category (44 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 7 months after the E-P1).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P1:
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More compact: Is smaller (121x70mm vs 130x100mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 140g or 28 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 heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2009).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the T3 emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 6 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon T3 and the Olympus E-P1 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the T3 or the E-P1. 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 expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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 T3||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||..||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T100||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon XS||..||82/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2008||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GH1||..||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||899||ebay.com|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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.
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.
- Canon 90D vs Canon T3
- Canon SX30 vs Canon T3
- Canon SX510 vs Olympus E-P1
- Canon T3 vs Fujifilm GFX 50R
- Canon T3 vs Panasonic GH4
- Canon T3 vs Panasonic LX100 II
- Canon T3 vs Ricoh GR II
- Leica TL vs Olympus E-P1
- Olympus E-P1 vs Panasonic G95
- Olympus E-P1 vs Panasonic ZS80
- Olympus E-P1 vs Sony A6300
- Olympus E-P1 vs Sony RX10 III
Specifications: Canon T3 vs Olympus E-P1
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 T3||Olympus E-P1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2011||June 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T3||Olympus E-P1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.0 x 14.7 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||323.4 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.5 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4272 x 2848 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.15 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.76 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||TruePic V|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||755||536|
|Screen Specs||Canon T3||Olympus E-P1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T3||Olympus E-P1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon T3||Olympus E-P1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon T3||Olympus E-P1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||700 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
130 x 100 x 78 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
121 x 70 x 36 mm
(4.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||495 g (17.5 oz)||355 g (12.5 oz)|
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