Olympus has had a penchant over recent years for releasing achingly beautiful, if somewhat flawed cameras, designed to appeal to those for whom the method and tools for shooting pictures need to be every bit as stunning as the photographs that they aim to produce. With the recent release of the Olympus PEN E-P3, it seems as though they might have finally given photographers a tool that is desirable, usable and without too many compromises of form over function.
Although superficially similar to its predecessors, the E-P1 and E-P2, the improvements to the package are significant: a vastly snappier autofocus; a screen that is bright, sharp and usable in direct sunlight, and a built-in flash that obviates the need for a standalone unit when venturing out to shoot more discreetly. This camera still isn’t flawless, but it’s far less dogged by the compromises and disappointments that riddled its beautiful, although flawed predecessors. The price may still be premium, but the justification for valuing beauty just became a lot more acceptable.