Olympus E-PL2 vs E-PL3
The Olympus PEN E-PL2 and the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2011 and June 2011. Both the E-PL2 and the E-PL3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds 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.
|Olympus E-PL2||Olympus E-PL3|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|720/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 200-6400||ISO 200-12800|
|Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0" LCD, 460k dots||3.0" LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||5.5 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|280 shots per battery charge||300 shots per battery charge|
|114 x 72 x 42 mm, 362 g||110 x 64 x 37 mm, 313 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PL2 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.
Body comparison: Olympus E-PL2 vs E-PL3
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL2 and the Olympus E-PL3 is provided 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
Both cameras are available in four different colors (black, silver, red, white).
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 notably smaller (14 percent) than the Olympus E-PL2. Moreover, the E-PL3 is markedly lighter (14 percent) than the E-PL2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL2 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available 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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Olympus E-PL2»||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||12.8 oz||280||n||Jan 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3«||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599||-||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus XZ-2« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.9 in||12.2 oz||340||n||Sep 2012||599||-||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-P3« »||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.0 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||799||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||11.8 oz||290||n||Feb 2010||599||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-P1« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Jun 2009||799||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Nov 2009||799||-||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic G10« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||13.7 oz||380||n||Mar 2010||499||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic GF2« »||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549||-||Panasonic GF2|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. 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-PL2 vs E-PL3
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.
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.
Technology-wise, the E-PL3 uses a more advanced image processing engine (Truepic VI) than the E-PL2 (Truepic V), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-PL2 and the E-PL3 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-PL3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the E-PL2, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
The Olympus PEN E-PL2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
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. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus E-PL2»||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3«||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus XZ-2« »||1/1.7||11.8||3968||2976||1080/30p||20.4||11.3||216||49||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-P3« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-P1« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic G10« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic GF2« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54||Panasonic GF2|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. 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 better video resolution than the E-PL2. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the E-PL2 is limited to 720/30p.
Feature comparison: Olympus E-PL2 vs E-PL3
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-PL2 and the E-PL3 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. However, optional viewfinders – the VF-2 for the E-PL2 and the VF-2 for the E-PL3 – are available as accessories. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-PL2 and Olympus E-PL3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-PL2»||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3«||-||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||-||n||3.0||460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus XZ-2« »||-||n||3.0||920||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.0||Y||Y||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-P3« »||-||n||3.0||614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||-||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-P1« »||-||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||-||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic G10« »||202||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic GF2« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic GF2|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-PL2 has one, while the E-PL3 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-PL2 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 E-PL2 does not have a selfie-screen.
The E-PL2 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-PL3 uses SDXC cards.
Connectivity comparison: Olympus E-PL2 vs E-PL3
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-PL2 and Olympus PEN E-PL3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus E-PL2»||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3«||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus XZ-2« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-P3« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-P1« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic G10« »||Y||mono||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic GF2« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF2|
Both the E-PL2 and the E-PL3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL2 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL3, 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 Olympus website.
Review summary: Olympus E-PL2 vs E-PL3
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PL2 and the Olympus E-PL3? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL2:
- 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 January 2011).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL3:
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (Truepic VI vs Truepic V).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/30p).
- 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 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 114x72mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 49g or 14 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (5 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PL3 is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 2 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 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 Olympus E-PL2 and the Olympus E-PL3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-PL2 and the E-PL3 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
Expert reviews: Olympus E-PL2 vs E-PL3
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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Olympus E-PL2»||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3«||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||Jun 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||+ +||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||-||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus XZ-2« »||+||-||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||-||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-P3« »||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-P1« »||+||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799||-||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic G10« »||-||70/100||4/5||-||4/5||Mar 2010||499||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic GF2« »||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549||-||Panasonic GF2|
|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 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? 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 G12 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Fujifilm X10 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Fujifilm X100 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Olympus E-P2 vs Olympus E-PL2
- Olympus E-PL1 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Olympus E-PL2 vs Panasonic G10
- Olympus E-PL2 vs Panasonic G2
- Olympus E-PL2 vs Panasonic GF7
- Olympus E-PL2 vs Panasonic GM1
- Olympus E-PL2 vs Pentax MX-1
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic GF5
Specifications: Olympus E-PL2 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||Olympus E-PL2||Olympus E-PL3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2011||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Olympus E-PL3|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200-6400 ISO||200-12800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Truepic V||Truepic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||55||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.4||20.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.2||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||573||499|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Olympus E-PL3|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Olympus E-PL3|
|Autofocus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Olympus E-PL3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL2||Olympus E-PL3|
|Battery Type||BLS-5 power pack||BLS-5 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||280 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
114 x 72 x 42 mm
(4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
110 x 64 x 37 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||362 g (12.8 oz)||313 g (11.0 oz)|
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