Olympus E-P3 Exposure
Olympus E-P3 Exposure
The Olympus E-P3 offers much the same exposure options you'd find in a traditional SLR camera, plus a few Olympus-specific options. Available exposure modes include Program AE, Manual, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority modes, with shutter speeds from 1/4,000 to 60 seconds, as well as a Bulb setting for longer exposures. The x-sync speed for flash photography is 1/180 second. A fully automatic mode called Intelligent Auto (iA) enables Scene Detection, and places the camera in control of almost all functions, to try to deliver optimum results under a wide range of conditions. What few basic options such as exposure compensation that are available to the photographer in this mode are given more friendly names like Brightness, and have simple touch-screen slider controls. The Olympus E-P3 also offers a number of Scene modes and Art Filter functions, as well as a dedicated Movie mode. See the Operation page for more details.
The E-P3 offers an optional live histogram function in all operating modes except Panorama and 3D. Located near the bottom center of the LCD panel, it's rather small, and offers only a luminance readout rather than a full RGBY histogram, but it's still very useful for ensuring your exposures are correct. (It does have the interesting feature that the area of the image under the spot meter is called out in green on the histogram, while areas of under- or over-exposure are shown in red and blue respectively on the histogram.)
Another feature that's rather more common, but still very welcome, is the exposure display visible at bottom right of the LCD when the camera is in Manual exposure mode. This shows the amount the camera thinks an image will be over- or underexposed within a range of +/-3.0EV, based on the settings you have selected, to help you find the best exposure for the subject. (Beyond the 3.0EV range, the value blinks to emphasise that the metering system's limit has been reached.) Together, the live histogram and exposure display make it relatively easy to get suitable exposures even when shooting manually.
Olympus E-P3 Face Detection
The face detection functionality can also be used to automatically smooth your subjects' skin tones during record or playback, courtesy of the e-Portrait function. In Record mode, the function is used in the e-Portrait scene mode, and automatically saves two copies of each captured image, one with skin smoothing, and one without. In playback mode, e-Portrait is accessed and applied to images through the JPEG Edit function.
Olympus E-P3 ISO Range
Olympus E-P3 Noise Reduction
Olympus E-P3 White Balance Options
You can also adjust the white balance for all but the Kelvin option, controlling the amount of amber-blue and green-magenta bias in the color balance in +/- 7 steps. This ability to "tweak" the white balance, called White Balance Compensation, is very helpful when dealing with difficult light sources. Unlike many cameras, which provide direct access to the adjustment from the white balance selection dialog, the E-P3 hides it in the Custom menu.
The E-P3 also features white balance bracketing. If activated, the camera will
write three separate images for each press of the shutter button, either biasing between amber and blue or green and magenta. You can set the images to vary by two, four, or six arbitrary adjustment steps.
Olympus E-P3 Metering Options
Exposure and autofocus are optimized for faces when Face Detect is enabled.
Metering range is from -1 to 18 EV, at room temperature with a 50mm f/2 lens at
ISO 100. Either the Fn1 or Movie buttons can be configured to serve as an AE/AF Lock button, which locks the current exposure settings whenever
pressed, so you can independently lock exposure and focus. (AE Lock is useful
when you want to base your exposure on an off-center subject. Point the camera
at the subject, lock the exposure, then recompose your shot however you like.
Your subject will be correctly exposed, regardless of what might be in the
center of the frame when you finally snap the shutter.) Through a Custom menu,
you can designate the function of the AE/AF lock button, and how it works in
conjunction with the Shutter button.
Olympus E-P3 Exposure Compensation & Bracketing
In situations where exposure compensation is necessary, simply press the Exposure Compensation button on the rear of the E-P3 (a secondary function of the Up Arrow button) and turn either control dial or press the left and right Arrow buttons. In all exposure modes except Manual and Bulb, the exposure value scale will display on the LCD, and you can increase or decrease the exposure in either 0.3, 0.5, or 1.0 EV increments (selected via a Custom menu option), up to a maximum of +/- 3.0 EV. Or, you can use the Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) function to automatically bracket three frames at 0.3, 0.7, or 1.0 EV steps each. The auto bracketing will center its efforts around whatever exposure you've chosen as the starting point, including any exposure compensation adjustments you've made -- meaning that it's possible to bracket one exposure as far as 4.0 EV on one side of the metered exposure value. AEB is handy for those times when you want to make sure you get just the right exposure for a critical subject.
The Olympus E-P3 also gives you the ability to individually tweak the
exposure of each metering mode, via a Custom menu option called Exposure Shift.
This allows you to assign a separate compensation in 1/6 EV steps between -1 and +1 EV for Digital ESP, Center-weighted, and Spot metering modes.
Unlike exposure bracketing, the exposure shift function is limited to operating
within the camera's standard exposure compensation range. That is to say, if you
dial in a -1.0 EV exposure shift, and the maximum -3.0 EV of exposure
compensation, the camera will only reduce the metered exposure by 3.0 EV -- it
won't go outside of the maximum exposure compensation range to a -4.0 EV
exposure. Unlike the exposure compensation function, use of exposure shift isn't
indicated on the P3's record or playback-mode information overlays.
Olympus E-P3 Panorama
Olympus E-P3 3D Photography
Olympus E-P3 Drive Modes
The Drive setting accesses Single-shot and Continuous modes, as well as Self-timer modes. Single-shot shoots one frame per shutter press, while in our testing we found that Continuous mode shot bursts at about 3.1 frames-per-second, just slightly better than the rated 3 fps. Burst depth is about 19 JPEG, 12 raw, or 9 raw+JPEG frames.
The Olympus E-P3 also offers two Self-Timer modes for self-portraits or those occasions when you don't want to risk camera shake on a long exposure by pressing the Shutter button to trip the shutter. You can choose between a 2 or 12 second countdown. The 2 second countdown is useful for times when you're taking a long exposure with the camera on a tripod. Surprisingly for a camera without a mirror, there is also an Anti-Shock option, which allows a programmable delay from 1/8s to 30s between the shutter button being pressed and the actual exposure being taken.
When the optional RM-UC1 Remote Cable is attached via the USB-AV/OUT port, remote operation is available. No wireless remote is available for the E-P3.
Olympus E-P3 Picture Modes
Olympus E-P3 Multiple Exposures
It is possible to combine more than two images by using the Overlay function, which allows selection of any preexisting Raw image to use as a starting point for the multiple exposure. By saving each multiple exposure as a new Raw file, it's possible to combine an essentially unlimited number of exposures into a single image, although doing so requires the overlay image to be manually reselected through the menu system after each shot, a somewhat tedious process that requires at least seven extra button presses.
When shooting static subjects -- or those where blurring is desirable, such as waterfalls -- the auto gain function can also be used to reduce image noise in-camera by averaging it out across multiple exposures. This technique allows the use of higher ISO sensitivities than might otherwise be advisable, and the optional RM-UC1 tethered remote cable release can be used to prevent the camera being moved between shots. Uunfortunately, the cable release doesn't allow navigation of the menu system, which would be required to merge more than two subsequent exposures in-camera.
The E-P3 offers one further method of creating multiple exposures through its
Playback menu Image Overlay function. This allows selection of either two or
three Raw images which are then combined into a single combined image, which is
saved as a new Raw file. This allows a greater degree of control over the
combined image than the Record-mode multiple exposure function, since the
brightness of each source image can be adjusted separately in twenty steps.
Olympus E-P3 Shading Compensation
Olympus E-P3 Art Filters
As one might expect, Art Filters are not applied to RAW files. If RAW mode is chosen, the camera will automatically enable LN+RAW mode, and save the modified image as a large/normal JPEG. For the two new filters, Gentle Sepia adds a soft, warm tone to the image while leaving blacks true, while Dramatic Tone adds a punchy, high-contrast look like that which has become a cliche among fans of high dynamic range photography (but it's not true HDR, as it's achieved from a single shot).
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Olympus PEN E-P3 Photo Gallery .
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Olympus PEN E-P3 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!