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Olympus E-PL3 versus Canon 80D

The Olympus PEN E-PL3 and the Canon EOS 80D are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2011 and February 2016. The E-PL3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the 80D is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL3) and an APS-C (80D) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 24 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-PL3 vs Canon 80D

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL3 and the Canon 80D. 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. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the E-PL3 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Olympus E-PL3 vs Canon 80D
Compare E-PL3 versus 80D top
Compare E-PL3 and 80D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 80D is considerably larger (107 percent) than the Olympus E-PL3. Moreover, the 80D is substantially heavier (133 percent) than the E-PL3. It is noteworthy in this context that the 80D is splash and dust-proof, while the E-PL3 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL3) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (80D). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Olympus E-PL3, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the E-PL3 gets 300 shots out of its BLS-5 battery, while the 80D can take 960 images on a single charge of its LP-E6N power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

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)
Camera
Model
Olympus E-PL3» 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
Canon 80D« 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
Canon T6i« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749- i Canon T6i
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Nikon D7500« » 5.4 in 4.1 in 2.9 in 25.4 oz 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
Olympus E-PL5« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 599- i Olympus E-PL5
Olympus E-PM2« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 499- i Olympus E-PM2
Olympus E-P3« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.0 oz 330 n Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 12.8 oz 280 n Jan 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PM1« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.3 oz 330 n Jun 2011 499- i Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PL1« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 11.8 oz 290 n Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P2« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
Panasonic GF5« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 9.4 oz 360 n Apr 2012 499- i Panasonic GF5
Panasonic GF3« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 9.3 oz 300 n Jun 2011 549- i Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GF2« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 10.9 oz 300 n Nov 2010 549- i Panasonic GF2

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PL3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the 80D, which puts it into a different 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Olympus E-PL3 vs Canon 80D

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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-PL3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Canon 80D an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the 80D is 50 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.6. The sensor in the E-PL3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the 80D offers a 3:2 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Olympus E-PL3 and Canon 80D sensor measures

With 24MP, the 80D offers a higher resolution than the E-PL3 (12.2MP), but the 80D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.75μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PL3). Yet, the 80D is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 7 months) than the E-PL3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The 80D has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in relatively fast and reliable autofocus acquisition during video recording.

E-PL3 versus 80D MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 80D offers substantially better image quality than the E-PL3 (overall score 27 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.7 bits higher color depth, 2.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Olympus E-PL3» Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952Olympus E-PL3
Canon 80D« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579Canon 80D
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285Canon 6D Mark II
Canon T6i« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p22.712.091971Canon T6i
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
Nikon D7500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386Nikon D7500
Olympus E-PL5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972Olympus E-PL5
Olympus E-PM2« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272Olympus E-PM2
Olympus E-P3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PM1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PL1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556Olympus E-P2
Panasonic GF5« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.411.661861Panasonic GF5
Panasonic GF3« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.045849Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GF2« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654Panasonic GF2

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, but the 80D provides a faster frame rate than the E-PL3. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-PL3 vs Canon 80D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the 80D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-PL3 and Canon 80D along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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
Camera
Model
Olympus E-PL3»- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 5.5 n Y Olympus E-PL3
Canon 80D«optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 80D
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n Canon 6D Mark II
Canon T6i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T6i
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
Nikon D7500« »optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 8000 8.0 Y n Nikon D7500
Olympus E-PL5« »- n 3.0 460 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL5
Olympus E-PM2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 4000 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PM2
Olympus E-P3« »- n 3.0 614 fixed Y 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PM1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 5.5 n Y Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PL1« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P2« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P2
Panasonic GF5« »- n 3.0 920 fixed Y 4000 4.0 Y n Panasonic GF5
Panasonic GF3« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 4000 3.2 Y n Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GF2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 4000 2.6 Y n Panasonic GF2

One feature that differentiates the E-PL3 and the 80D is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PL3 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the 80D has to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.

Both the E-PL3 and the 80D write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Olympus E-PL3»Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL3
Canon 80D«YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon 80D
Canon 6D Mark II« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 6D Mark II
Canon T6i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon T6i
Canon 7D II« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
Nikon D7500« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y-YNikon D7500
Olympus E-PL5« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PL5
Olympus E-PM2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PM2
Olympus E-P3« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PM1« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PL1« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P2« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P2
Panasonic GF5« »-stereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF5
Panasonic GF3« »-stereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GF2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF2

The 80D is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the E-PL3 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-PL3 was succeeded by the Olympus E-PL5.

Review summary: Olympus E-PL3 vs Canon 80D

So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-PL3 better than the Canon 80D or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL3:

  • More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 139x105mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 417g or 57 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2011).

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 80D:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 43%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (27 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.7 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.2 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
  • Better video autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident movie autofocus.
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 460k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (960 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-PL3 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 80D is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 6 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.

E-PL3 06:22 80D

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the E-PL3 and the 80D in practical situations. 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 expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Olympus E-PL3»HiRec72/1004.5/5-4/5 Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
Canon 80D«HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
Canon T6i« »-75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749- i Canon T6i
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Nikon D7500« »HiRec86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
Olympus E-PL5« »HiRec-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599- i Olympus E-PL5
Olympus E-PM2« »-77/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499- i Olympus E-PM2
Olympus E-P3« »83/10074/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2« »83/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PM1« »86/10071/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2011 499- i Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PL1« »86/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P2« »Rec69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
Panasonic GF5« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Apr 2012 499- i Panasonic GF5
Panasonic GF3« »82/10071/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549- i Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GF2« »82/10070/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549- i Panasonic GF2

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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