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Olympus Pen Lite E-PL3 isn't light on lens-swapping features

The Olympus Pen E-PL3, or Pen Lite, is a new feature-packed, lens-swapping entry to the company's Micro Four Thirds range. Click through our photo gallery for a glimpse of its charms.

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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The Pen E-PL3, or Pen Lite, is a new lens-swapping entry to Olympus' Micro Four Thirds range.

The 12.3-megapixel E-PL3 lets you change the lens on the front of the camera for different situations and effects. It packs a new fold-out screen so you can see what you're shooting from different angles too.

The E-PL3 shoots 1080i high-definition video, with a dedicated video button and HDMI output. Click through our photo gallery to see more.

Features like a handy 'live guide' and assorted special effects, such as soft focus and vibrant pop art, make it beginner-friendly. It comes in several stylish colours, too.

The E-PL3's small size puts it up against the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 and the newly announced Lumix DMC-GF3. Along with the Pen Mini also announced today, cameras like this are about as small as a snapper can be while still fitting the lens mount on the front. The cameras are easily small enough to slip into a jacket pocket, although lenses and accessories can add to that size.

Small is beautiful when you're packing or pocketing your stuff, but cutting its size means the E-PL3 doesn't have a flash built in. If you want a flash, or a viewfinder, you'll have to stick one in the hotshoe, which could present you with a tough choice.

Other possible hotshoe accessories include a wireless module that backs up your pictures to your computer or the Web without the aid of pesky cables.

Micro Four Thirds models from Olympus and Panasonic are the most established lens-swapping cameras, but there's a bunch of contenders snapping at their heels. Sony has the beginner-friendly NEX range, Samsung has the NX line with a full-frame sensor, and Pentax has just weighed in with the newly-minted Q system.

The E-PL3 launches today alongside the Pen Mini E-PM1 and the flagship, retro-styled Pen E-P3. The three cameras will launch in autumn. Pricing for the E-PL3 hasn't been announced yet.

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The good old-fashioned black model.
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And a silver version.
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This is the white model.
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Here we see how the screen folds against the camera...
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...or flips out.
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The 3-inch screen from the back.
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