I can’t stress enough how important it is to actually feel and try one out in a store before swiping that card. Ask to see it, hold it, try it, pop in your own card if you have to (ask first!).
I was all ready to buy an Olympus E-PL3 online when I decided to check it out first at an electronics store. I disliked it the moment I picked it up. It has terrible ergonomics for extended hand-held shooting in my opinion. Small, slippery body without a grip. I held it up and took a few shots in the store and it was uncomfortable to hold, wrist felt tired within minutes. It had the standard 14-42mm kit lens on, can’t imagine how it must feel like with a larger, heavier lens attached.
There was also an E-PL1 on display, I asked to give that one a try too. This 2010 model is still in production and is sold alongside Olympus’ other more current and newer PENs. I liked how it felt in my hand, while one-handed shooting on the E-PL3 felt uncomfortable, the E-PL1 felt confidently secure in my right hand as I held it up to snap photos of the store’s Christmas decorations and passing shoppers. Its auto-focus speed is noticeably slower compared to the E-PL3 but not too bad and definitely something I can live with.
Comparable picture quality from both.
So the lesson here is, if you see a camera you really like online, don’t click that “buy now” button until you get a chance to actually hold it in your hand and try it out for yourself! I am now most certain the E-PL3 is not for me.