Olympus E-PL3

Olympus PEN E-PL3 front
  • 12MP - Four Thirds Sensor
  • 3" Tilting Display
  • ISO 200 - 12800
  • Sensor based Image Stabilization
  • 1920 x 1080 video
  • Micro Four Thirds Mount
  • 313g - 110 x 64 x 37mm
  • Released September 2011
  • Older Model is Olympus E-PL2
  • Read full specs
  • Alternatives
  • Lenses
  • Size Comparison
  • FAQ

Olympus E-PL3 summary

Olympus E-PL3 is Olympus's Entry-Level Mirrorless camera originally released on September of 2011. The camera comes with a 12MP, CMOS Four Thirds sized sensor and has a max resolution of 4032 x 3024.

Olympus introduced this camera in an effort to update the earlier Olympus E-PL2 (Read Full Comparison)

The E-PL3 is positioned #99 out of 117 in Entry-Level Mirrorless cameras & over-all #446 out of 1465 for digital cameras in our list. You should try out our Advanced camera search to see camera ratings based on your personal criteria.

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The following is a chart of multiple factors used in the rating system.

Olympus E-PL3 family

The Olympus E-PL3 is part of a family of products. You can read the complete range below.

ModelVisualizeResolutionSensor SizeMax fpsReleased
Olympus-PEN-E-P7 front thumbnailOlympus E-P7
E-PL3 vs E-P7
20MPFour Thirds8.7 fps2021
Olympus-OM-D-E-M10-IV front thumbnailOlympus E-M10 IV
E-PL3 vs E-M10 IV
20MPFour Thirds8.7 fps2020
Cutting-edge AI developed by Apple deciphers subtle nuances in pixels
Olympus-PEN-E-PL9 front thumbnailOlympus E-PL9
E-PL3 vs E-PL9
16MPFour Thirds8.6 fps2018
Olympus-OM-D-E-M10-Mark-III front thumbnailOlympus E-M10 III
E-PL3 vs E-M10 III
16MPFour Thirds8.6 fps2017
Olympus-PEN-E-PL8 front thumbnailOlympus E-PL8
E-PL3 vs E-PL8
16MPFour Thirds8.0 fps2016
Olympus-OM-D-E-M10-II front thumbnailOlympus E-M10 II
E-PL3 vs E-M10 II
16MPFour Thirds8.0 fps2015
Japan-exclusive Leica Leitz Phone 3 features big sensor and new modes
Olympus-PEN-E-PL7 front thumbnailOlympus E-PL7
E-PL3 vs E-PL7
16MPFour Thirds8.0 fps2014
Olympus-PEN-E-PL6 front thumbnailOlympus E-PL6
E-PL3 vs E-PL6
16MPFour Thirds8.0 fps2014
Olympus-OM-D-E-M10 front thumbnailOlympus E-M10
E-PL3 vs E-M10
16MPFour Thirds8.0 fps2014
Olympus-PEN-E-P5 front thumbnailOlympus E-P5
E-PL3 vs E-P5
16MPFour Thirds9.0 fps2013
Olympus-PEN-E-PM2 front thumbnailOlympus E-PM2
E-PL3 vs E-PM2
16MPFour Thirds8.0 fps2013
Body cameras now worn by bakery staff to deter stealing
Olympus-PEN-E-PL5 front thumbnailOlympus E-PL5
E-PL3 vs E-PL5
16MPFour Thirds8.0 fps2012
Olympus-PEN-E-PM1 front thumbnailOlympus E-PM1
E-PL3 vs E-PM1
12MPFour Thirds6.0 fps2011
Olympus-PEN-E-PL3 front thumbnailOlympus E-PL312MPFour Thirds6.0 fps2011
Olympus-PEN-E-P3 front thumbnailOlympus E-P3
E-PL3 vs E-P3
12MPFour Thirds3.0 fps2011
Olympus-PEN-E-PL2 front thumbnailOlympus E-PL2
E-PL3 vs E-PL2
12MPFour Thirds3.0 fps2011
Olympus-PEN-E-PL1s front thumbnailOlympus E-PL1s
E-PL3 vs E-PL1s
12MPFour Thirds3.0 fps2010
Olympus-PEN-E-PL1 front thumbnailOlympus E-PL1
E-PL3 vs E-PL1
12MPFour Thirds3.0 fps2010
Olympus-PEN-E-P2 front thumbnailOlympus E-P2
E-PL3 vs E-P2
12MPFour Thirds3.0 fps2010
Snapchat Adds Watermarks to AI-Created Images
Olympus-PEN-E-P1 front thumbnailOlympus E-P1
E-PL3 vs E-P1
12MPFour Thirds3.0 fps2009

Olympus E-PL3 Pros and Cons

Below is a selection of pluses and minuses of the Olympus E-PL3 based on things that are typically considered essential in a camera.

good sensor size (Four Thirds)
great video quality (1920 x 1080 pxls)
has HDMI socket
has image stabilization (Sensor based)
includes face detect focusing
includes tracking focus
screen is a good size (3 inch)
screen tilts
supports RAW formats
switch lenses (Micro Four Thirds mount)
you can focus manually
does not have a selfie friendly display
does not have phase detect AF
low battery pack (300 shots)
low resolution (12MP)
missing headphone socket
missing mic socket
missing Time Lapse recording
screen has low resolution (460 thousand dots)
slow fps (6.0 frames/s)
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Olympus E-PL3 Sensor details

The Olympus E-PL3 is run by the Truepic VI processor chip. The specification of the sensor in the Olympus E-PL3 is 17.3mm x 13mm (Four Thirds). The 225 mm² sensor has the capability to capture 4032 x 3024 pixels and aspect ratios of 4:3. The camera has Image Stabilization (Sensor based). Optical stabilization is more effective than digital stabilization as the latter can cause cropping.

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The CMOS sensor has 12MP and gives a native ISO range of 200 - 12800. RAW format is saved therefore the user has wider margin for error.

The image below illustrates the E-PL3's sensor dimensions when compared to other common sizes. The E-PL3 sensor has a crop factor of 2.1 and is pointed out in green.

Olympus PEN E-PL3 sensor size Meta to Introduce 'AI-Generated' Labels for Media starting next month

To get a sense of different aspect ratios, you can refer to the visual below.

Camera sensor aspect ratios

Olympus E-PL3 dimensions

Olympus E-PL3 weighs about 0.69 lbs (313 grams / 11.04 oz) & has outer dimensions of 110mm x 64mm x 37mm (4.3" x 2.5" x 1.5"). The weight of typical Entry-Level Mirrorless camera is 329 grams so the Olympus E-PL3 is very much the same in comparison with other competitors.

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The following is a photo of the Olympus E-PL3 besides a soda so you're able to get a sense of its scale.

Olympus PEN E-PL3 dimensions scale

The top view directly below will illustrate the button design on the E-PL3.

Olympus PEN E-PL3 topview buttons dials

Olympus E-PL3 Lens specs

The E-PL3 fits the Micro Four Thirds mount and has 162 lenses that you can purchase. Below is a few of the lenses we have in our collection which will fit the E-PL3.

ModelVisualizeFocal LengthApertureStabilizedWeight
Sigma-56mm-F1.4-DC-DN-C-Micro-Four-Thirds lensSigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C56mmf/1.40g
Olympus-M.Zuiko-Digital-ED-75mm-f1.8 lensOlympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.875mmf/1.8 305g
Photography Glossary
Panasonic-Leica-DG-Nocticron-42.5mm-F1.2-ASPH-OIS lensPanasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH OIS43mmf/1.2 425g
Panasonic-Lumix-G-X-Vario-12-35mm-F2.8-ASPH-Power-OIS lensPanasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Power OIS12-35mmf/2.8 305g
Panasonic-Lumix-G-Leica-DG-Summilux-12mm-F1.4-ASPH lensPanasonic Lumix G Leica DG Summilux 12mm F1.4 ASPH12mmf/1.4 335g
Panasonic-Leica-DG-Vario-Elmarit-12-60mm-F2.8-4.0-ASPH-Power-OIS lensPanasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH Power OIS12-60mmf/2.8-4 320g
Samsung Releases Faster Versions of EVO MicroSD Cards
Olympus-Zuiko-Digital-14-54mm-f2.8-3.5-II lensOlympus Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 II14-54mmf/2.8-3.5 440g
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Olympus E-PL3 Connectivity

The E-PL3 has the following connectivity:

  • USB Yes
  • HDMI Yes

Digital cameras that incorporate NFC or Bluetooth connectivity are able to be controlled wirelessly via smartphones. You can easily transfer photos and at times change settings with no need to connect physically to the camera.

Several applications even allow a Liveview and hit the shutter in case you are not near the camera. If the camera contains a HDMI port, it can easily be attached to an external screen. The majority of cameras will allow you to recharge the battery pack through the USB socket.

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Olympus E-PL3 Video specs

The max video quality in the Olympus E-PL3 is 1920 x 1080 and you can shoot in AVCHD and Motion JPEG format. 1080p quality offers a decent balance for quality vs file sizes but 1080p is not going to leave you with any room to crop. The camera does not have a microphone or headphone port which means that you have got little control over the sound. It is perhaps a better idea to have a look at a different camera in case you want decent sound for your video clips.

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Olympus E-PL3 Weather Sealing

There is no environment sealing on the Olympus E-PL3 so you need to be careful in rainy or dusty conditions.

Olympus E-PL3 Display and Viewfinder

The Olympus E-PL3 comes with a 3 inch tilting display screen supporting a resolution of 460 thousand dots.

Sadly the display screen is not a touch screen.

Olympus PEN E-PL3 screen and viewfinder Body cameras now worn by bakery staff to deter stealing

The ViewFinder specs for Olympus E-PL3 are the following:

  • ViewFinder Electronic (optional)

For bright outdoor conditions which make the camera displays washed out and hard to see, viewfinders are very valuable.

Olympus E-PL3 Shutter specs

Olympus E-PL3 has the capability to shoot continuously at 6.0 frames/s. The maximum shutter speed is 1/4000 seconds.

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Olympus E-PL3 Flash and Hot shoe specs

Olympus E-PL3 has external flash support but is without in-built flash. The highest flash sync speed is 1/160 seconds.

Olympus E-PL3 Autofocus specs

Olympus E-PL3 has just Contrast Based AF & lacks Phase Detect AF. Phase Detection focusing is more faster & accurate when compared to Contrast Based focusing. The camera comes with Face detect making it valuable for people photography.

The AF system comes with 35 focus points to select from. It also features Tracking AF for moving things. Olympus E-PL3 has the ability to use manual focusing when required for low light conditions or you want to have more precise control on focusing.

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Olympus E-PL3 Battery life

The battery pack (BLS-5) on the Olympus E-PL3 is built to last for 300 clicks based on the CIPA benchmarks which is lower when compared to it's competition. The usual Entry-Level Mirrorless camera battery life is 343. Fujifilm X-S20 offers the maximum (750) battery life for this type of cameras.

Here is a listing of Entry-Level Mirrorless cameras having the best battery life:

Olympus E-PL3 for specific types of photography

The following bar chart indicates a rundown of the Olympus E-PL3 for specific types of photography. To learn more, browse to the specific section below.

Olympus E-PL3 Portrait photography advice

The Olympus E-PL3 gets a points total of 60 which is reasonable, and means the camera is relatively appropriate for portrait photography. Taking portrait photos leans greatly towards sensor specs, RAW support and capability to utilize external lighting.

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has manual focus
sensor size is decent (Four Thirds)
has face detection focusing
supports RAW files
low MP (12 megapixels)

Street photography with Olympus E-PL3

Coming in at a brilliant points total of 84, the Olympus E-PL3 is a wonderful fit to use in street photography. A decent street photography camera comes with a perfect balance of image quality and portability.

Photography Glossary
tilting screen
built in image stabilization (Sensor based)
sensor size is nice (Four Thirds)
saves RAW files

Olympus E-PL3 Sports photography features

A subpar sports photography rating of 45 indicates the Olympus E-PL3 is just not suitable for shooting sports. A camera must have good tracking and continuous shooting for sports photography.

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image stabilization (Sensor based)
good sensor size (Four Thirds)
has tracking focus
max frames per second low (6.0 frames per second)
MP count low (12 megapixels)
terrible battery (300 CIPA)
does not have phase detect auto focus

Olympus E-PL3 Travel photography info

Weight is extremely important when selecting a travel camera. All things considered, the Olympus E-PL3 gets a subpar 44 as a travelling camera which is just not suitable to buy for your travels.

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doesn't have Timelapse recording
not so great battery power (300 CIPA)
low resolution (12MP)
display is not selfie friendly

Olympus E-PL3 Landscape photography details

For anyone looking to buy a digital camera for landscape photographs, the most vital factor is going to be image quality. The Olympus E-PL3 at it's above average rating of 61 as a landscape camera is a very decent choice compared to its competition.

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focusing manually
swap lenses (Micro Four Thirds mount)
screen is a decent size (3 inches)
built in image stabilization (Sensor based)
sensor size is nice (Four Thirds)
delivers RAW formats
sensor resolution not great (12 megapixels)
not so great battery life (300 CIPA)
does not have Timelapse recording

Olympus E-PL3 as a Vlogging camera

A vlogging camera preferably should come with a articulating screen, mic port and preferably image stabilization. Taking everything into account, the Olympus E-PL3 is just not suitable as a vlog camera as it comes to a subpar score of 34.

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built in image stabilization (Sensor based)
has face detection autofocus
video res high (1920 x 1080 pxls)
display is not selfie friendly
doesn't have external mic jack

Olympus E-PL3 Alternatives

If you are looking for replacements to the E-PL3, here is a number of the highest placed cameras that fall under the category of Entry-Level Mirrorless.

The graph down below shows you an overview of the E-PL3 compared to it's highest scored competitors shown above.

Here are a few more cameras you may see as alternate options. To see a detailed comparison, just click on the "compare" link.

Body cameras now worn by bakery staff to deter stealing


General Information
Brand Name
Model type
Olympus PEN E-PL3
Entry-Level Mirrorless
Physical type
Rangefinder-style mirrorless
Sensor Information
Sensor type
Processor Chip
Truepic VI
Sensor size
Four Thirds
Sensor dimensions
17.3 x 13mm
Sensor area
Sensor resolution
12 megapixels
Anti alias filter
Aspect ratio
Max resolution
4032 x 3024
RAW files
Max native ISO
Minimum native ISO
Manual focusing
Autofocus touch
Continuous autofocus
Single autofocus
Tracking autofocus
Selective autofocus
Autofocus center weighted
Autofocus multi area
Autofocus live view
Face detect autofocus
Contract detect autofocus
Phase detect autofocus
Total focus points
Lens support
Micro Four Thirds
Total lenses
Focal length multiplier
Type of display
Display diagonal
3 inch
Display resolution
460 thousand dots
Selfie friendly
Touch operation
Display technology
HyperCrystal LCD AR(Anti-Reflective) coating
Viewfinder Information
Electronic (optional)
DXO scores
DXO Overall rating
DXO Color Depth rating
DXO Dynamic range rating
DXO Low light rating
Min shutter speed
60 seconds
Max shutter speed
1/4000 seconds
Continuous shutter rate
6.0 frames/s
Shutter priority
Aperture priority
Manually set exposure
Exposure compensation
Set white balance
Image stabilization
Integrated flash
Flash distance
no built-in flash
Flash settings
Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Fill-in, Slow Sync, Manual (3 levels)
Hot shoe
WB bracketing
Max flash synchronize
1/160 seconds
Multisegment metering
Average metering
Spot metering
Partial metering
AF area metering
Center weighted metering
Video features
Supported video resolutions
1920 x 1080 (60 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
Max video resolution
Video data format
Mic port
Headphone port
USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Environmental sealing
Water proofing
Dust proofing
Shock proofing
Crush proofing
Freeze proofing
313 gr (0.69 lb)
110 x 64 x 37mm (4.3" x 2.5" x 1.5")
Battery life
300 photographs
Form of battery
Battery Pack
Battery ID
Self timer
Yes (2 or 12 sec)
Time lapse shooting
Storage type
Card slots
Cost at release