Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic GF2
The Olympus PEN E-PL3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2011 and November 2010. Both the E-PL3 and the GF2 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Olympus E-PL3||Panasonic GF2|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 200-12800||ISO 100-6400|
|Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0" LCD, 460k dots||3.0" LCD, 460k dots|
|Tilting screen (no touchscreen)||Fixed touchscreen|
|5.5 shutter flaps per second||2.6 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|300 shots per battery charge||300 shots per battery charge|
|110 x 64 x 37 mm, 313 g||113 x 68 x 33 mm, 310 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PL3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2? 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-PL3 vs Panasonic GF2
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL3 and the Panasonic GF2. 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.
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 Panasonic GF2 is notably larger (9 percent) than the Olympus E-PL3. However, the GF2 is slightly lighter (1 percent) than the E-PL3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL3 nor the GF2 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, 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.
|Olympus E-PL3»||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Panasonic GF2«||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549||-||Panasonic GF2|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599||-||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus XZ-2« »||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599||-||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-P3« »||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-P1« »||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Panasonic GF5« »||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499||-||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic G3« »||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599||-||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GF3« »||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549||-||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic G10« »||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599||-||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF1« »||119 mm||71 mm||36 mm||385 g||380||n||Sep 2009||749||-||Panasonic GF1|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 GF2 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the E-PL3 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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-PL3 vs Panasonic GF2
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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-PL3 offers a slightly higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the GF2. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-PL3 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 4.33μm for the GF2). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-PL3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the GF2, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Olympus PEN E-PL3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-PL3»||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Panasonic GF2«||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54||Panasonic GF2|
|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-PL2« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55||Olympus E-PL2|
|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|
|Panasonic GF5« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic G3« »||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GF3« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic G10« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF1« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54||Panasonic GF1|
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).
Feature comparison: Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic GF2
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-PL3 and the GF2 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 DMW-LVF1 for the GF2 – are available as accessories. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PL3, the Panasonic GF2, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-PL3»||-||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PL3|
|Panasonic GF2«||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic GF2|
|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-PL2« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL2|
|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|
|Panasonic GF5« »||-||n||3.0||920||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic G3« »||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GF3« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2||Y||n||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic G10« »||202||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF1« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic GF1|
One feature that differentiates the E-PL3 and the GF2 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PL3 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the GF2 has to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.The E-PL3 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the GF2 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-PL3 and the GF2 write their files to SDXC cards.
Connectivity comparison: Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic GF2
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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus E-PL3»||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Panasonic GF2«||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF2|
|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-PL2« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|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|
|Panasonic GF5« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic G3« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GF3« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic G10« »||Y||mono||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF1« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF1|
Both the E-PL3 and the GF2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF2 was replaced by the Panasonic GF3, 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 and Panasonic websites.
Review summary: Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic GF2
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PL3 and the Panasonic GF2? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer 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.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 2.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the GF2).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2:
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in November 2010).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PL3 emerges as the winner of the contest (5 : 3 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-PL3 and the Panasonic GF2 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-PL3 or the GF2 perform in practice. 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-PL3 vs Panasonic GF2
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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-PL3»||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||Jun 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Panasonic GF2«||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549||-||Panasonic GF2|
|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-PL2« »||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|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|
|Panasonic GF5« »||-||-||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499||-||Panasonic GF5|
|Panasonic G3« »||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599||-||Panasonic G3|
|Panasonic GF3« »||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549||-||Panasonic GF3|
|Panasonic G10« »||-||70/100||4/5||-||4/5||Mar 2010||499||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||-||72/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599||-||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF1« »||85/100||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||749||-||Panasonic GF1|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
- Kodak S-1 vs Panasonic GF2
- Olympus E-P2 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Olympus E-PL6
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Olympus XZ-2
- Olympus E-PL3 vs Sony A6500
- Panasonic G3 vs Panasonic GF2
- Panasonic GF1 vs Panasonic GF2
- Panasonic GF2 vs Panasonic GF3
- Panasonic GF2 vs Panasonic GF7
- Panasonic GF2 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Panasonic GF2 vs Sony RX100 III
Specifications: Olympus E-PL3 vs Panasonic GF2
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||Panasonic GF2|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2011||November 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL3||Panasonic GF2|
|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 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||5.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200-12800 ISO||100-6400 ISO|
|Image Processor||Truepic VI||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||52||54|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.9||21.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||499||506|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL3||Panasonic GF2|
|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||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL3||Panasonic GF2|
|Autofocus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5.5 shutter flaps/s||2.6 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL3||Panasonic GF2|
|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||Panasonic GF2|
|Battery Type||BLS-5 power pack||DMW-BLD10 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||300 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
110 x 64 x 37 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
113 x 68 x 33 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||313 g (11.0 oz)||310 g (10.9 oz)|
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