The first items that you come across when opening the E-P3s box are the instruction manual and the CD. I was delighted to find a 200 page manual in the box as I've solely been a Canon user my entire life and felt it would be useful reference material to carry around in my bag. Unfortunately, only about 7 pages of it are in English and there is no quick start guide. I swear they must have included Esperanto and Latin in here somewhere.
Digging deeper I found the battery and charger and decided that a fully charged battery would be the right place to start so I plug it in (very short lead) and an orange light comes on. What does this mean? With my Canon charger there were a series of red lights that stopped flashing when the battery was fully charged. Of course, I suspect that since it is straight out of the box this means that it is not fully charged but I'll check the manual anyway. Nothing in the manual, so I go online and find a full one. Orange means charging and blue will be confirmation that we're ready to go. Blue? I would have thought green unless things are different in Japan but that's just me being pedantic. Hold on, though. I've just checked and my charger is a BCS-5 and apparently the light will go off when charging is complete - I'd still prefer a green light so I could be sure that it actually worked.
To be fair, the Basic Manual in the box will get you started. It covers battery, memory card and lens attachment, initial set-up of date and time and the key dial and button functions. This will be useful to some. Like most people I'm not one to read a manual from cover to cover so I hope that the Olympus menus are as intuitive as other reviewers have claimed. If I find that they are not, then I will return to the subject. However, I will skip read the comprehensive manual to see if anything catches my eye.
Battery and memory card inserted and it's time to attach a lens. First box to be opened contains the Olympus 17mm f2.8 M.ZUIKO Digital Micro Four Thirds Pancake lens. It's unbelievably small and light after SLR system lenses. Although it's plastic bodied with a metal mount it looks and feels well made. Aesthetically, it's very pleasing on the black body. No lens pouch included which is a bit mean of Olympus in my opinion - will have to improvise now.
Time to switch on and it only takes a couple of seconds for the camera to burst into life. I press the menu button and start poking at the screen expecting to be able to select functions but this is done by the dial on the rear of the camera. Date and time set without any fuss. Even with my sausage fingers the small buttons and dials are user-friendly.
A couple of quick self-portraits in the mirror of the spare bedroom/office/study. The camera is left in Program mode and even on a gloomy April morning with the blinds shut the auto-focus has a quick hunt before releasing the shutter. 1/30s at f2.8 and ISO1600 and all looks good in the bright display, notwithstanding personal aesthetic challenges.
Reviewing the first images I used the zoom function to go in for a closer inspection. This is pretty good though I'd personally have had a 1.5x zoom as my first stage of enlargement rather than the 2x that the camera offers. That's just a minor personal niggle, however. Where the zoom really comes into it's own is as a focusing aid. Simply zoom in to the area you want sharp and focus and shoot. This is all new to me and a fantastic option to have.
Time to load up the software. Registration was quick and painless on Windows 7. No need to go digging around in Explorer. The progress meter on Olympus Viewer 2 Setup rapidly reached about 40% before appearing to stall. After a couple of minutes installation was complete with the progress bar still stuck so just be patient. A similar pause occurred while installing Olympus 'ib' which probably took about 5 minutes to load. Installation of the pdf Instruction Manual was quick and painless and I simultaneously downloaded and installed the latest update for 'ib' which was a bit sluggish on a good internet connection and took about 15 minutes.
Next out of the box was the Olympus 45mm f1.8 ZUIKO Digital Micro Four Thirds lens. Of metal construction it looks and feels great. It doesn't look out of place on the black body and the camera still feels well balanced in the hand. Again, I took some low light shots around the house in late afternoon. Focusing was fast and with the wider maximum aperture ISO800 was possible. The images look great on the display, as expected because this lens gets great user reviews and I've got a feeling this lens might spend the longest time on the camera.
Last, but by no means least, it's the turn of the Olympus 12mm f2.0 ZUIKO Digital ED Micro Four Thirds lens. Again, its of an all metal construction and is very similar in size and appearance to the 45mm with the exception of the snap to focus ring which is a very cool addition. Took a few shots around the house with this using the magnifier to isolate an area and using the manual focus to fine tune things. Absolutely superb.
If we finally get a break in the weather at the weekend (and it doesn't look promising) I'll be hitting the streets with my new best PEN friend and post a practical update and hopefully a few worthwhile pics.