Olympus E-3 vs Pentax KP
The Olympus E-3 and the Pentax KP are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2007 and January 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-3) and an APS-C (KP) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 24.1 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 Olympus E-3 and the Pentax KP? 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 Olympus E-3 and the Pentax KP are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The KP can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-3 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 Pentax KP is notably smaller (19 percent) than the Olympus E-3. Moreover, the KP is markedly lighter (20 percent) than the E-3. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|2.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|3.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|4.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|5.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|6.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|7.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|8.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|9.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|10.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|11.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|12.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|13.||Pentax K-70||126 mm||93 mm||74 mm||688 g||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|14.||Pentax K-S2||123 mm||91 mm||73 mm||678 g||410||Y||Feb 2015||749|
|15.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|16.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|Notes: 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 KP was launched at a markedly lower price (by 35 percent) than the E-3, 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 Olympus E-3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax KP an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the KP is 63 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the KP offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24.1MP, the KP offers a higher resolution than the E-3 (10MP), but the KP has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 4.74μm for the E-3). Yet, the KP is a much more recent model (by 9 years and 3 months) than the E-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the KP has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax KP implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the KP for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inches or 50.9 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-3 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the E-3, the KP has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Olympus E-3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax KP are ISO 100 to ISO 819200 (no boost).
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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|4.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|5.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|6.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|7.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|8.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|9.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|10.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|11.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|12.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The KP indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-3 does not. The highest resolution format that the KP can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-3 and the KP are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the KP has a higher magnification than the one of the E-3 (0.63x vs 0.58x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-3 and Pentax KP in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|15.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the E-3, but is missing on the KP is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The E-3 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the KP does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the KP is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Pentax KP has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The E-3 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the KP uses SDXC cards. The E-3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the KP only has one slot.
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 Olympus E-3 and Pentax KP and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|15.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the KP offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-3 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-3 (unlike the KP) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The KP is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the E-3 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-3 was succeeded by the Olympus E-5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Pentax websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-3 and the Pentax KP? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Olympus E-3:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/6000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 390) on a single battery charge.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2007).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax KP:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 58%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.58x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (132x101mm vs 142x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 173g or 20 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (35 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-3 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the KP is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 9 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 Olympus E-3 and the Pentax KP place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-3 or the KP. 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.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|2.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|3.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|4.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|5.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|6.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|7.||Olympus E-30||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|8.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|9.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|10.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|11.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|12.||Olympus E-1||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|13.||Pentax K-70||4.5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|14.||Pentax K-S2||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|15.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|16.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Olympus E-3 vs Pentax KP
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||Olympus E-3||Pentax KP|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2007||January 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-3||Pentax KP|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||6.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 819,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||PRIME IV|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.6||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.5||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||571||..|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-3||Pentax KP|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-3||Pentax KP|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/6000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/24000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-3||Pentax KP|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-3||Pentax KP|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||390 shots per charge|
142 x 116 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
132 x 101 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||876 g (30.9 oz)||703 g (24.8 oz)|
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