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How Fast Can the Olympus EP3 Focus?

by Chris Gampat on 07/08/2011

The Olympus EP3 claims to be a faster focusing camera than even the likes of the Canon 1D Mk IV (review here) according to Olympus’ internal testing. I decided to put the little camera against the next best thing: the Canon 7D. The 7D has some beastly autofocus algorithms and is almost always reliable no matter what. Take a look at the video below and then check out our analysis.

The Video Test

Our Analysis

As it is, both cameras use different autofocusing algorithms: the Olympus E-P3 uses contrast detection and at its fastest the Canon 7D uses phase detection. Both focusing systems work very differently. Up until now, phase detection has always wiped the floor with contrast autofocus (that typically used in point and shoots). As we’ve seen in this test though, it’s now a very close race.

In my eyes, they’re very similar with the EP-3 taking the edge just a bit here.

To be fair, the 7D has lots more glass to move than the EP3 but the lens has a superfast motor as it is.

What Does this Mean in Real Life?

Shooting Events- They should be neck in neck. Canon’s lens lineup is so much better though.

Shooting Portraits- No need to micro adjust the Micro Four Thirds lenses! However, keep in mind the other factors: like Canon’s ultimately better rendering of skin.

Sports- The 7D wins here because of the fast FPS rate mixed with its already very good focusing.

Street Photography- Go with the EP3 due to the size and speed.

Weddings- This would be an interesting test to see. Granted, the 7D has a more rugged body. But the focusing speed of the EP3 can help capture those extremely candid moments.

Landscapes- The 7D has an overall better dynamic range and color depth. Plus combine that with the more rugged body: the 7D is a no brainer.

Night shooting- 7D due to the much better versatility and control that it allows.

For more you can read our full Olympus EP3 review or our Canon 7D review.

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