Olympus E-P3 vs Sony A68
The Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A68 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2011 and November 2015. The E-P3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A68 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-P3) and an APS-C (A68) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 PEN E-P3 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A68? 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-P3 and the Sony A68 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-P3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the A68 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 Sony A68 is considerably larger (77 percent) than the Olympus E-P3. Moreover, the A68 is substantially heavier (65 percent) than the E-P3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P3 nor the A68 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. 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 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.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A68||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||610 g||540||n||Nov 2015||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499||ebay.com|
|13.||Pentax K-S1||121 mm||93 mm||70 mm||558 g||410||n||Aug 2014||749||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A77 II||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||647 g||480||Y||May 2014||1,199||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A58||129 mm||95 mm||78 mm||492 g||690||n||Feb 2013||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A68 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.
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 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-P3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A68 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A68 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-P3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A68 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the A68 offers a higher resolution than the E-P3 (12.2MP), but the A68 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.29μm for the E-P3). Yet, the A68 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 4 months) than the E-P3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A68 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A68 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-P3 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 Olympus PEN E-P3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha SLT-A68 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
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.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 consideration, the A68 offers substantially better image quality than the E-P3 (overall score 28 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.3 bits higher color depth, 3.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 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.
|1.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|12.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|14.||Sony A77 II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.5||12.7||1442||77|
|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 are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A68 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. That said, the E-P3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-3. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-P3, the Sony A68, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony A68||1440||Y||2.7 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2/s||Y||n|
|12.||Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|13.||Pentax K-S1||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||5.4/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A77 II||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A6000||1440||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Sony A58||1440||n||2.7 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-P3 has a touchscreen, while the A68 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The E-P3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A68 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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 PEN E-P3 and Sony Alpha SLT-A68 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A68||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic G10||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Pentax K-S1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony A77 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A6000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A58||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A68 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The E-P3 does not feature such a mic input.
Both the E-P3 and the A68 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-P3 was replaced by the Olympus E-P5, while the A68 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the E-P3 and A68 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-P3 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony A68 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-P3 or the Sony A68 – 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.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P3:
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (614k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x69mm vs 143x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 241g or 40 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2011).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A68:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 43%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (28 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- 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.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (540 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the E-P3 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A68 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 7 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 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 Olympus E-P3 and the Sony A68 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-P3 or the A68 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A68||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Nov 2015||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||..||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499||ebay.com|
|13.||Pentax K-S1||4/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||749||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A77 II||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||1,199||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||4.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A58||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 500D vs Sony A68
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- Fujifilm X-E3 vs Sony A68
- Nikon 1 V3 vs Olympus E-P3
- Olympus E-P3 vs Panasonic GF1
- Olympus E-P3 vs Sony A6400
- Olympus E-P3 vs Sony A77 II
- Olympus E-P3 vs Sony HX80
- Olympus E-PL7 vs Sony A68
- Panasonic G2 vs Sony A68
- Panasonic ZS70 vs Sony A68
- Pentax K-1 vs Sony A68
Specifications: Olympus E-P3 vs Sony A68
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-P3||Sony A68|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2011||November 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony A68|
|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||12.2 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||51||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.8||24.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.1||13.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||536||701|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony A68|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||2.7inch|
|LCD Resolution||614k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony A68|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony A68|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-P3||Sony A68|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||540 shots per charge|
122 x 69 x 34 mm
(4.8 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
143 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||369 g (13.0 oz)||610 g (21.5 oz)|
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