Olympus E-PL3 vs E-PM1
The Olympus PEN E-PL3 and the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public in June 2011. Both the E-PL3 and the E-PM1 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PL3 and the Olympus PEN E-PM1? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL3 and the Olympus E-PM1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL3 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the E-PM1 is available in six color-versions (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white).
In this particular case, the Olympus E-PL3 and the Olympus E-PM1 have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the E-PM1 is markedly lighter (15 percent) than the E-PL3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL3 nor the E-PM1 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499||ebay.com|
|10.||Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 E-PM1 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the E-PL3, 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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.
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.
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-PL3 and the E-PM1 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. Moreover, the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The Olympus PEN E-PL3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (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 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 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-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|3.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|4.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|5.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|6.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|7.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|8.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|9.||Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|10.||Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|11.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|12.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The E-PL3 and the E-PM1 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-PL3 and the VF-2 for the E-PM1 – are available as accessories. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-PL3 and Olympus E-PM1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|9.||Panasonic GF5||none||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Panasonic GF3||none||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2/s||Y||n|
|11.||Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|12.||Panasonic GF2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-PL3 and the E-PM1 write their files to SDXC cards.
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-PL3 and Olympus PEN E-PM1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Panasonic GF5||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Panasonic GF3||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Panasonic G2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic GF2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the E-PL3 and the E-PM1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-PL3 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL5, while the E-PM1 was followed by the Olympus E-PM2. Further information on the features and operation of the E-PL3 and E-PM1 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-PL3 Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus E-PM1 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PL3 and the Olympus E-PM1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL3:
- 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.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PM1:
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 48g or 15 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (2 points each). 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-PL3 and the Olympus E-PM1 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 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-PL3 or the E-PM1. 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Panasonic GF5||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499||ebay.com|
|10.||Panasonic GF3||3/5||82/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic G2||..||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||..||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 70D vs Olympus E-PM1
- Canon T5i vs Olympus E-PM1
- Canon T7 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Fujifilm X-A1 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Leica X Vario vs Olympus E-PL3
- Nikon D3500 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Nikon D4S vs Olympus E-PM1
- Nikon W150 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Nikon Z5 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Sony A6300
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Sony A6500
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Sony RX10 III
Specifications: Olympus E-PL3 vs Olympus E-PM1
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-PL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2011||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|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||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Truepic VI||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||52||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.9||21.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||499||499|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5.5 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL3||Olympus E-PM1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||300 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
110 x 64 x 37 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||313 g (11.0 oz)||265 g (9.3 oz)|
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