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Olympus E-P3 versus Olympus E-M10

The Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Olympus OM-D E-M10 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2011 and January 2014. Both the E-P3 and the E-M10 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-P3 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the E-M10 provides 15.9 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Olympus E-P3 vs Olympus E-M10

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P3 and the Olympus E-M10. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the E-P3 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Olympus E-P3 vs Olympus E-M10
Compare E-P3 versus E-M10 top
Compare E-P3 and E-M10 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M10 is notably larger (16 percent) than the Olympus E-P3. Moreover, the E-M10 is markedly heavier (7 percent) than the E-P3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P3 nor the E-M10 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus E-P3» 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.0 oz 330 n Jun 2011 799- i
Olympus E-M10« 4.7 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 14.0 oz 320 n Jan 2014 699- i
Olympus E-M10 III« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.0 in 14.5 oz 330 n Aug 2017 649 i i
Olympus E-M10 II« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 n Aug 2015 799- i
Olympus E-PL7« » 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 n Aug 2014 599- i
Olympus E-PL6« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n May 2013 599- i
Olympus E-P5« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 14.8 oz 330 n May 2013 999- i
Olympus E-PL5« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 599- i
Olympus E-PM1« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.3 oz 330 n Jun 2011 499- i
Olympus E-PL3« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jun 2011 599- i
Olympus E-PL2« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 12.8 oz 280 n Jan 2011 599- i
Olympus E-PL1« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 11.8 oz 290 n Feb 2010 599- i
Olympus E-P2« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799- i
Olympus E-P1« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Jun 2009 799- i
Olympus E-520« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699- i
Olympus E-410« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Mar 2007 699- i
Olympus E-510« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 n Mar 2007 799- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-M10 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the E-P3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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: Olympus E-P3 vs Olympus E-M10

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Olympus E-P3 and Olympus E-M10 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-M10 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixel, compared with 12.2 MP of the E-P3. This megapixel advantage translates into a 14 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-M10 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 4.29μm for the E-P3). However, it should be noted that the E-M10 is much more recent (by 2 years and 7 months) than the E-P3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M10 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

E-P3 versus E-M10 MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 consideration, the E-M10 offers substantially better image quality than the E-P3 (overall score 21 points higher). The advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 2.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-P3» Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
Olympus E-M10« Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472
Olympus E-M10 III« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p----
Olympus E-M10 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273
Olympus E-PL7« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372
Olympus E-PL6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p----
Olympus E-P5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572
Olympus E-PL5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972
Olympus E-PM1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
Olympus E-PL3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
Olympus E-PL2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
Olympus E-PL1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
Olympus E-P2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
Olympus E-P1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
Olympus E-520« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.410.454855
Olympus E-410« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.110.049451
Olympus E-510« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.210.044252

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-P3 provides a higher frame rate than the E-M10. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the E-M10 is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-P3 vs Olympus E-M10

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the E-M10 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-P3, the Olympus E-M10, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Olympus E-P3»- n 3.0 614 fixed Y 4000 3.0 Y Y
Olympus E-M10«1440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y
Olympus E-M10 III« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.6 Y Y
Olympus E-M10 II« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y
Olympus E-PL7« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y
Olympus E-PL6« »- n 3.0 460 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y
Olympus E-P5« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 9.0 Y Y
Olympus E-PL5« »- n 3.0 460 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y
Olympus E-PM1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 5.5 n Y
Olympus E-PL3« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 5.5 n Y
Olympus E-PL2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y
Olympus E-PL1« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 3.0 Y Y
Olympus E-P2« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y
Olympus E-P1« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y
Olympus E-520« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y Y
Olympus E-410« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-510« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y

Both the E-P3 and the E-M10 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P3 was replaced by the Olympus E-P5, while the E-M10 was followed by the Olympus E-M10 II.

Review summary: Olympus E-P3 vs Olympus E-M10

So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-P3 better than the Olympus E-M10 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-P3:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
  • More compact: Is smaller (122x69mm vs 119x82mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2011).


Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M10:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (21 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 614k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-P3 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-M10 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 4 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.

E-P3 04:12 E-M10

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-P3 or the E-M10. 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 rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus E-P3»83/10074/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799- i
Olympus E-M10«-80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699- i
Olympus E-M10 III« »Rec80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2017 649 i i
Olympus E-M10 II« »HiRec80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 799- i
Olympus E-PL7« »Rec-5/54.5/54/5 Aug 2014 599- i
Olympus E-PL6« »----- May 2013 599- i
Olympus E-P5« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999- i
Olympus E-PL5« »HiRec-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599- i
Olympus E-PM1« »86/10071/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2011 499- i
Olympus E-PL3« »HiRec72/1004.5/5-4/5 Jun 2011 599- i
Olympus E-PL2« »83/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599- i
Olympus E-PL1« »86/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599- i
Olympus E-P2« »Rec69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799- i
Olympus E-P1« »Rec66/1004/54/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799- i
Olympus E-520« »87/100HiRec4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699- i
Olympus E-410« »86/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 699- i
Olympus E-510« »89/100HiRec3.5/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i

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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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