My life in cameras: Part 5 Olympus PEN E-P3 review and having fun with built-in filters

As it is with people who have too much money and time (I had an old contract, my rent was ridiculously low) the PEN E-P1 was soon “not enough”. So here is part 5 the Olympus PEN E-P3.

Why I needed the new Olympus PEN E-P3

As I said in my earlier posts I actually bought the predecessor as a secondary camera to my big Canon DSLR. But I liked the form factor and image quality so much that I soon sold all my Canon gear. But surely I would need the newest PEN camera right? I just came into money after selling the old stuff. So one Amazon prime delivery later I was the proud owner of an Olympus PEN E-P3. I even treated myself to the expensive electronic viewfinder that goes on the hot shoe.

The camera was arguably better and more mature. I won’t bore you with technical details but the camera was much more usable. The display was better, the handling was more responsive and it gained a few useful functions on the way. The added viewfinder was an absolute delight. Sure it made the camera way less pocketable (like not at all) but it could be angled upward for low level shots for example. Unfortunately that thing was quite loose and I constantly lost it when I had the camera slung over my shoulder. Which pretty much led me to buy the next camera.

I also used this camera to experiment with the different built-in filters and effects. Something that I find slightly gimmicky from today’s perspective. But Olympus put a lot of these filters in their cameras. Rumors are that thy sold well with Japanese customers. So all chosen images had a filter applied.

Olympus PEN E-P3 examples:

Subway Tunnel Berlin

Subway tunnel Berlin shot with the Olympus PEN E-P3
Subway Tunnel Berlin (2013) Olympus PEN E-P3 M.Zuiko 17mm F2.8@F.28 1/50s ISO 1600 Sepia

Berlin has quite an extended subway system. Some lines date back over 100 years while other lines are rather modern. Of course the old tunnels are much more interesting. They have a lot of history. They were used as air raid shelters during the Second World War. The Battle of Berlin was fought in those tunnels, people tried to flee Eastern Germany through them and in West Berlin some had nuclear shelters added.

So it is great to be able take tours through these tunnels. Sometimes the subway company even let’s people wander through old maintenance tunnels like here where you can watch the trains go by. I played around with the sepia filter this time around. I wish I had used regular black and white.

Another Subway Tunnel

Another Subway tunnel Berlin shot with the Olympus PEN E-P3
Another Subway Tunnel Berlin (2013) Olympus PEN E-P3 M.Zuiko 17mm F2.8@F.28 1/30s ISO 1600

This picture is from the same subway tunnel tour. As far as I remember they used these tunnels for workshops in the war and immediately after they tried to grow mushrooms in this wet and dark climate. Now the rooms are unused. I think I used some kind of dramatic black and white filter effect here.

Miniature Village in Saxony

Miniature Village shot with the Olympus PEN E-P3
Miniature Village (2013) Olympus PEN E-P3 Olympus 40-150mm F4.0-5.6@62mm F4.5 1/1000s ISO 200

A typical German village this one can be found in Saxony. I took this shot from a large water tower and applied the miniature effect. It looked kind of interesting then but in today’s Instagram filter infested world it seems just boring.

Water Tower or I hate HDR

prenzlauer berg water tower
Prenzlauer Berg Water Tower (2013) Olympus PEN E-P3 Olympus 17mm F2.8@F5.6 1/1000s ISO 200

Another water tower in Berlin. This place is a popular spot for families in the afternoon and couples in the evening. The caverns inside can be visited and are used for various art projects. They used to do “sound exhibitions” inside which were utterly stunning. This is a kind of HDR filter. HDR is a look I came to detest for it’s artificiality. Just go to the starting page of 500px (warning can induce vomiting) and look at the disgusting silky smooth HDR crap people put there. Yes I have very strong opinions on HDR and this is the only picture were I have ever used it. And to be honest it looks terrible.

St. Sebastian Church

St. Sebastian Church Berlin shot with the Olympus PEN E-P3
St. Sebastian Church Berlin (2013) Olympus PEN E-P3 Olympus 17mm F2.8@F4 1/4000s ISO 200

I am standing on what was the Berlin wall and now is a beautiful park with lots of wild grass. It is more akin to a nature reserve than an actual park. There are mostly offices nearby so the park is often empty. The St. Sebastian church is in the background. This filter is supposed to be for colorful landscapes.