Olympus E-P3 Review

 
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Olympus E-P3 Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally good to very good speed for a compact system camera, with faster AF than many SLRs!

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~0.9 second

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~1.0 second

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
4 seconds after 19 large/fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
6 seconds after 12 RAW files*
13 seconds after 15 RAW+ LF JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup and shut-down times were slower than those for most SLRs, but good for a compact system camera. Buffer clearing time depends on the quality and number of shots, and on the speed of the SD card. With a fast SDHC card, the E-P3's buffer clearing times were quite good. The E-P3 supports UHS-I cards, but we found little difference in buffer clearing times or buffer depths when we tried testing with a 45MB/s UHS-I card.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.5 second
Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~2.7 seconds
Time to display a large/fine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.5 second
Time to display a large/superfine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Mode switching was quite fast, except for Record to Play which was rather slow.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Wide Angle
0.222 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All AF timing performed with the new Olympus 14-42mm II R kit lens, here at about 14mm.)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Telephoto
0.205 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (At about 42mm.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
Wide Angle
0.267 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (At about 14mm.)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Wide Angle
Auto Flash Enabled
0.395 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, TTL Auto flash enabled.
Continuous AF
0.285 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.088 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.060 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Olympus E-P3's full-autofocus shutter lag in single-area AF mode (center AF position) was only 0.222 second with the 14-42mm II R kit lens at wide-angle. At full telephoto, AF shutter was even lower, at 0.205 second. That's faster than many SLRs! In 35-point "All Targets" AF mode, this time increased to 0.267 second, which is still remarkably fast, especially for a contrast-detection system. Full autofocus shutter lag increased to 0.395 second with the flash enabled, which includes an additional delay for the preflash metering. Continuous AF mode resulted in a shutter lag of 0.285 second. When manually focused, the E-P3's lag time was 0.088 second, which is very fast. The E-P3's prefocused lag time of 0.060 second is also faster than many SLRs.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance. We also use the same Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with every camera (on all platforms except Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds and Nikon consumer models lacking an in-body focus motor), to further reduce variation, and because our tests showed that focus-determination time with this lens was close to the fastest, across multiple camera bodies from different manufacturers. Being an older design with a non-ultrasonic motor, it wouldn't be the fastest at slewing from one focus setting to another, but that's exactly the reason we measure focus determination speed, which is primarily a function of the camera body, vs focus adjustment speed, which is primarily a function of the lens.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.74 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 2 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.71 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 5 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + LF JPEG
0.74 second

Time per shot, averaged over 15 shots, 13 seconds to clear*.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous Mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.32 second (3.11 frames per second);
19 frames total;
4 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 19 shots, then slows to an average of about 0.44s or 2.26 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Mode
RAW

0.32 second (3.12 frames per second);
12 frames total;
6 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 12 frames, then slows to an average of about 0.74s or 1.35 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Mode
RAW + LF JPEG

0.32 second (3.11 frames per second);
9 frames total;
9 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 9 frames, then slows to 1.24s or 0.81 fps when buffer is full.

Flash Recycling

4.1 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were a bit sluggish compared to most SLRs, but good for a CSC, at about 0.7 seconds per shot. Continuous mode was a touch below average these days, at about 3.1 frames per second no matter what image size or quality before the buffer filled. Buffer depth was quite good for its class, at 19 frames for large/fine JPEGs, 12 for RAW and 9 for RAW + large/fine JPEG. Note that our test target for this was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG burst lengths should be longer with typical subjects. (Particularly in the case of buffer depths, we're careful to test under worst-case conditions.) Flash recycle time was good, at 4.1 seconds after a full power discharge.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

10,049 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were fast, quick enough that you probably won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec SD card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Olympus E-P3's performance has improved across the board over the E-P2, except for burst speed which remains about the same. Autofocus performance has improved dramatically to the point where the E-P3 is one of the fastest CSCs tested to date, and is truly competitive to most SLRs.

Battery

Battery Life
Average battery life for a CSC.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard)
330

The Olympus E-P3 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The rated 330 shots per charge is about average for a compact system camera, but well below the capacity of most SLRs when using the optical viewfinder. We recommend getting a second battery for your E-P3 if you plan any extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 

Olympus E-P3

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