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Olympus E-P3 lens-swapping snapper adds a little flash

Eee by gum it's the E-P3! The Olympus Pen E-P3 is the new flagship of the Micro Four Thirds range of lens-swapping cameras, and it's adding a little flash. A pop-up flash, that is.

Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Richard Trenholm
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Eee by gum it's the E-P3! The Olympus Pen E-P3 is the new flagship of the Olympic Micro Four Thirds range of lens-swapping cameras, and it's adding a little flash -- a pop-up flash, that is.

The E-P3 is a 12.3-megapixel snapper that lets you swap lenses for different situations and effects. The kitsch, vintage styling and dSLR power should appeal to shutter nutters and enthusiastic beginners alike.

Powerful features include full manual control and high definition video. Meanwhile features like a handy 'live guide' and special effects, including soft focus and colourful pop art, also make it easy to use for beginners. Click through our photo gallery to see the E-PL3 in action.

Micro Four Thirds cameras lose the mirror mechanism inside a traditional dSLR, so they can pack SLR features into a much more compact body. The price of small size is usually a reduction in features, and previous Pen models lacking one or two things we'd expect to be built-in -- primarily, a flash. Fortunately, the E-P3 has a flash on board, popping up from the left shoulder when you need to shed a little extra light on the situation.

So unlike other Pen cameras --including the E-P1 and E-P2 -- you don't need to choose between a flash or a viewfinder because there's only space for one in the hotshoe. And if the pop-up flash isn't sufficient, you can still bolt a bigger flash into the hotshoe.

The Olympus and Panasonic cameras using Micro Four Thirds lenses have the biggest headstart, but Sony has its beginner-friendly NEX range, Samsung has the NX line, and Pentax has just weighed in with the Q system -- which has a rather nifty-looking flash of its own.

The Pen E-PL3 launches today alongside the Pen Lite E-PL3 and Pen E-P3. The three new models go on sale in the autumn. With a 14-42mm kit lens, the E-PL3 will cost a rather hair-raising £800.

Does this new Pen get your ink flowing? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

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The E-P3 lets you swap different lenses onto the front.
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The controls at the back.
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The E-P3 comes with a versatile 14-42mm lens.
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The white version is the kitschiest of them all.
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The silver look keeps the retro theme going.
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At the top we see the hotshoe and built-in flash, tucked away on the left.
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That's not a flash...
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...This is a flash!

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