Olympus E-420 SLR Review

By Movable Type Admin

Olympus E-420 Digital SLR


First look posted 10/10/2008
Conclusion and samples posted 10/14/2008

Click to take a QuickTime VR tour of the Olympus  E-420 Digital SLR
Click on the E-420 to take a QuickTime VR tour


The Olympus E-420 is the successor to the very popular E-410 from last year. Olympus designed this portable model for those who are ready to step up to the power and performance of a digital SLR, yet still expect the ease of use and ability to compose images on the LCD common to point-and-shoot cameras. Weighing a mere 380 grams (13.4 ounces), the E-420 is 20 to 40 percent lighter than competing dSLRs.

While considered an entry-level "lightweight", this 10-megapixel camera offers heavyweight technologies, including a larger 2.7-inch LCD with On-Screen Autofocus, Face Detection, Shadow Adjustment Technology and Perfect Shot Preview to get the most out of the Live View experience. At 2.7-inches, the LCD is large enough for users to compose and review images without squinting. This unit is not only small, but part several innovative technologies that further expand Live View's uses. These include:

  • On-Screen Autofocus: works as seamlessly as a point-and-shoot to display subjects in focus on the LCD the instant the shutter is pressed half way;
  • Face Detection Technology: targets and locks on up to eight faces to ensure they are in focus and crystal clear for amazing portraits;
  • New and Improved HyperCrystal II Technology: helps deliver twice the contrast and better viewing in extreme lighting conditions, a broader range of color detail, and a wider angle of view on the LCD so you and your friends can see it up to 176 degrees off-center;
  • Shadow Adjustment Technology: captures detail in the bright areas of a frame and opens up detail in the shadows that other cameras would render too dark or underexposed; and
  • Perfect Shot Preview enables you to view and select your favorite effect right on the LCD, and see how the image will look before you even capture it.

Olympus offers two different lens combinations. The ultra-compact Zuiko 25mm f2.8 digital specific lens complements the E-420's small stature, for the ultimate combination of ease of use and portability. This 0.9-inch thick lens offers a fixed 50mm equivalent angle of view. you can also purchase the E-420 in a kit with a compact, Zuiko Digital 28-84mm equivalent (ED 14-42mm Four Thirds) f3.5-f5.6 lens that perfectly matches the imager so light strikes the sensor directly to ensure rich, accurate colors and edge-to-edge sharpness. Both lenses are part Olympus' expanding line of 100 percent digital lenses - designed specifically for digital photography.

The E-420 features the TruePic III Image Processor, which helps the camera produce crystal clear photos. It does this by using all the pixel information for each image to provide the best digital images possible with accurate color, true-to-life flesh tones, brilliant blue skies and precise tonal representation in between. TruePic III also lowers image noise by one step to reduce graininess in images shot at higher ISO settings, enabling great results in low-light situations. This image processor also enables the E-420 to shoot at up to 3.5 frames per second in sequenced shooting mode - perfect for capturing fast moving subjects.

As with past models, this new dSLR offers Olympus' proven Dust Reduction System that produces spot-free photos with the exclusive Supersonic Wave Filter. The patented ultrasonic technology vibrates to remove dust and other particles from the front of the image sensor and captures it on a special adhesive membrane every time the camera is turned on. These spot-free photos liberate users from hours spent retouching photographs at the computer or sending their cameras back to the manufacturer to remove dust trapped inside.

If you decide to venture into the arena of advanced lighting, the E-420 is ready to meet the challenge. The E-420 is compatible with the Olympus FL-50R and FL-36R wireless electronic flashes that are designed exclusively for digital photography. When these flashes are used in combination with the E-420, wireless multi-flash photography is possible. The E-420 can control up to three wireless flash groups independently, with several flash units per group.





E-420 Features

  • High performance 10-megapixel Live MOS Image Sensor
  • Supersonic Wave Filter (dust reduction system for image sensor)
  • Four-Thirds System lens mount for Zuiko Digital Specific lenses
  • Full Auto, Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual and 18 Scene modes
  • sRGB and Adobe RGB color space options
  • Five Picture modes (Vivid, Natural, Muted, Portrait, Monotone) with adjustments for Sharpness, Saturation, and Contrast
  • JPEG and RAW file formats
  • Simultaneous capture of RAW + JPEG files
  • Metering modes: 49 point ESP, Center weighted, Spot (1%), Spot with High Light control and Spot with Shadow control
  • Exposure compensation ±3EV with 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps
  • 3-point (selectable) TTL Contrast/Phase-difference detection Auto Focus system
  • 2.7" HyperCrystal II LCD monitor with Color and Brightness control (15 steps)
  • Live View recording with 11-point imager AF system (can also select AF Sensor or Hybrid AF modes)
  • Face Detection AF in Live View mode
  • Built-in pop-up multi-mode intelligent flash (Auto pop-up in Scene and Full Auto exposure modes)
  • Hot shoe for E System TTL flash units
  • Capture image at 3.5fps (Max. 6 frames in RAW)
  • Auto Exposure bracketing (3 frames in 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1EV steps)
  • ISO range from 100 - 1600
  • RGB histogram display in playback for accurate color information per channel including overall luminance
  • Next Generation TruePic III processor with advanced noise reduction (including a noise filter)
  • 5-level Sharpening, Contrast and Saturation controls
  • USB 2.0 High-speed connectivity and PictBridge direct-print compatible
  • xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash I/II/Microdrive storage
  • High capacity Li-ion rechargeable battery and charger
  • Certified as an Olympus Eco-product
  • Compatible with all Olympus E-System lenses and accessories


The Olympus E-420 Digital SLR is available now in three configurations:

  • E-420 body only - $499.99
  • E-420 with ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens - $599.99
  • E-420 with ED 25mm f2.8 Zuiko Digital Lens - $699.99

Each kit ships with: E-420 Body, USB Cable, Video Cable, Li-Ion Battery Pack (BLS-1), Li-Ion Battery Charger (BCS-1), Shoulder Strap, OLYMPUS Master Software CD-ROM, Manuals and Warranty Card.


Physical Views

Olympus E-420 Digital SLR

Olympus E-420 Digital SLR

Olympus E-420 Digital SLR Olympus E-420 Digital SLR

Olympus E-420 Digital SLR

Olympus E-420 Digital SLR







Olympus E-420 Digital SLR


Olympus E-420 compared in size to a CD.






Olympus E-420 Digital SLR


Olympus E-420 and its big brother, the E-520.



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Olympus E-420 Specifications

Product Type
Product typeSingle-lens reflex Live View digital camera with interchangeable lens system
MemoryCompactFlash Type I/II, Microdrive, xD-Picture Card (Dual-Slot)
Sensor Size17.3 mm (H) x 13.0 mm (V)
Lens mountFour Thirds Mount
Effective Pixels number
Effective Pixels number10 million pixels
Image Pickup Unit
Product type Live MOS Sensor
Total no. of effective pixels Approx. 11.8 million pixels
Aspect ratio 1.33 (4:3)
Filter array Primary color filter (RGB)
LPF Fixed type
IR cut filter Hybrid type
Dust reduction Supersonic Wave Filter (dust reduction system for image sensor)
Recording
Recording formatDCF, DPOF compatible/Exif, PRINT Image Matching III
File formatRAW (12-bit), JPEG, RAW+JPEG
Recording image size[RAW] 3648 x 2736 pixels
[JPEG] 3648 x 2736 pixels - 640 x 480 pixels
File size

RAW: 3648 x 2736 compressed Approx. 11MB
Large: 3648 x 2736 Super fine (1/2.7 compressed) Approx. 6.8MB
3648 x 2736 Fine (1/4 compressed) Approx. 4.7MB
3648 x 2736 Normal (1/8 compressed) Approx. 2.2MB
3648 x 2736 Basic (1/12 compressed) Approx. 1.5MB

Middle 3200 x 2400 Super fine (1/2.7 compressed) Approx. 5.3MB
3200 x 2400 Fine (1/4 compressed) Approx. 3.7MB
3200 x 2400 Normal (1/8 compressed) Approx. 1.7MB
3200 x 2400 Basic (1/12 compressed) Approx. 1.1MB
2560 x 1920 Super fine (1/2.7 compressed) Approx. 3.6MB
2560 x 1920 Fine (1/4 compressed) Approx. 2.2MB
2560 x 1920 Normal (1/8 compressed) Approx. 1.1MB
2560 x 1920 Basic (1/12 compressed) Approx. 0.7MB

Small 1600 x 1200 Super fine (1/2.7 compressed) Approx. 1.3MB
1600 x 1200 Fine (1/4 compressed) Approx. 0.8MB
1600 x 1200 Normal (1/8 compressed) Approx. 0.5MB
1600 x 1200 Basic (1/12 compressed) Approx. 0.3MB
1280 x 960 Super fine (1/2.7 compressed) Approx. 0.8MB
1280 x 960 Fine (1/4 compressed) Approx. 0.5MB
1280 x 960 Normal (1/8 compressed) Approx. 0.3MB
1280 x 960 Basic (1/12 compressed) Approx. 0.2MB
1024 x 768 Super fine (1/2.7 compressed) Approx. 0.5MB
1024 x 768 Fine (1/4 compressed) Approx. 0.4MB
1024 x 768 Normal (1/8 compressed) Approx. 0.2MB
1024 x 768 Basic (1/12 compressed) Approx. 0.1MB
640 x 480 Super fine (1/2.7 compressed) Approx. 0.2MB
640 x 480 Fine (1/4 compressed) Approx. 0.2MB
640 x 480 Normal (1/8 compressed) Approx. 0.1MB
640 x 480 Basic (1/12 compressed) Approx. 0.1MB

Viewfinder
Product typeEye-level single-lens reflex viewfinder
Field of viewApprox. 95%
Viewfinder magnification Approx.0.92x (-1m-1, 50mm lens, infinity)
Eye pointApprox. 14 mm (-1m-1)
Diopter adjustment range-3.0 - +1m-1
Focusing screenFixed (Neo Lumi-Micro Mat screen)
Eyepiece shutterEye piece cap EP-4 supplied
Eye cup Interchangeable type EP-5/6/7, EP-5 supplied (Magnifier Eyecup ME-1 is available)
PreviewCan be checked (when Left arrow pad is set in preview mode),
selectable from the optical viewfinder or rear-mounted LCD monitor
View finder informationAperture value, Shutter speed, Record mode, AF confirmation mark, Flash, WB, AE lock, Number of storable still images, Exposure compensation value, Metering mode, Battery warning, Exposure mode, AF frame (super impose)
Live View
Live View Live MOS Sensor for still picture shooting is used, 100% field of view, Exposure adjustment pre-view, White balance adjustment pre-view, Gradation setting pre-view, Face detection pre-view, Perfect shot pre-view, Grid line displayable, 7x/10x magnification possible, MF/S-AF, AF frame display, AF point display, Shooting information, Histogram, Heat warning.
AFPhase -difference detection system, Contrast detection system
Image Stabilizer
System No
Mode
Effective compensation range
LCD Display
Product type HyperCrystal II LCD (semi-transmissive TFT color LCD)
Size 2.7 inches
Total no. of pixels Approx. 230,000 pixels
Playback field of view 100%
Brightness control 15 levels
Color Balance 15 levels
Focusing
AF system TTL phase-difference detection system, Contrast detection system (with 25mm f2.8, 14-42mm f3.5-5.6, 40-150mm f4.0-5.6)
Focus mode Single AF (S-AF) / Continuous AF (C-AF) / Manual Focus (MF) / S-AF + MF / C-AF + MF
Focusing point 3-point multiple AF (Auto, selectable in option)
Focusing point selection Auto/Option selectable
AF luminance range EV 0 to 19 (at 20, ISO 100)
AF illuminator Built-in flash (external flash available. Inactivation is available to set.)
AF lock Locked at first position of Shutter button in Single AF mode / AEL button (customizable)
Focus tracking Interlocked with Continuous AF mode
Focus aid Available
Exposure Control
Metering system TTL open-aperture metering system
(1) Digital ESP metering (49-point multi pattern metering) (2) Centre weighted average metering
(3) Spot metering (approx. 1% for the viewfinder screen) (4) Spot with Highlight control
(5) Spot with Shadow control
Metering rangeEV 1 - 20 (Digital ESP metering, Centre weighted average metering, Spot metering)
(At normal temperature, 50mm f2, ISO 100)
Exposure mode (1) Auto (2) P: Program AE (Program shift can be performed) (3) A: Aperture priority AE (4) S: Shutter priority AE (5) M: Manual (6) Scene program AE (7) Scene select AE
Scene program AE Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sport, Night + Portrait
Scene select AE Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Children, Sport, High Key, Low Key, Digital Image Stabilization, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Fireworks, Documents, Panorama* (* Available with the Olympus xD-Picture Card), Beach & Snow
ISO sensitivity AUTO (ISO 100 - 1600) / Manual (ISO 100 - 1600), 1 EV steps
Exposure compensation ±5 EV in 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV steps selectable
AE lock Locked by first position of Shutter button / AEL button (customizable)
Exposure bracketing 3 frames in 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1EV steps selectable
White Balance
Auto WB system Advanced detection system with Live MOS sensor
Preset white balance 8 settings (3000K - 7500K) Lamp (3000K), Fluorescent 1 (4000K), Fluorescent 2 (4500K), Fluorescent 3 (6600K), Daylight (5300K), Cloudy (6000K), Shade (7500K)
White balance compensation ±7 steps in each A-B/G-M axis (in Auto WB/Preset WB mode)
Custom white balance 1 setting can be registered at Kelvin temperature (2000K - 14000K)
One-touch white balance 1 custom setting can be registered
Color Mode
Color matrix sRGB, Adobe RGB
Picture Mode
Mode Vivid, Natural, Muted, Portrait, Monotone (default setting: Natural)
Adjustment parameter Contrast, Sharpness and Saturation level available in 5 steps for Vivid, Natural, Muted and Portrait
Contrast and Sharpness level available in 5 steps for Monotone
Filter effect Yellow, Orange, Red or Green filter available for Monotone
Picture tone Sepia, Blue, Purple or Green tone available for Monotone
Gradation 4 levels (Auto, high key, normal, low key)
Shutter
Product typeComputerized focal-plane shutter
Shutter speedAuto mode: 2 - 1/4000 sec. (depends on settings), P(Ps), S, A, M mode: 60 - 1/4000 sec. (Bulb: up to 8 min. with limiter), Scene program/Scene select mode: 4 - 1/4000 sec. (depends on settings) 1/3EV steps
Self-timer Operation time: 12 sec., 2 sec. (cancel available)
Remote cable release Available (with optional RM-UC1 Remote cable.)
Optical remote control Operation time: 2 sec., 0 sec., bulb control available (with optional RM-1 remote control)
Anti shock mode Available (1 to 30sec selectable)
Drive
Drive mode Single-frame shooting, Sequential shooting, Self-timer, Remote control
Sequential shooting speed Approx. 3.5 frames/sec.
Max. recordable pictures RAW mode: Max. 6 frames
on sequential shooting JPEG mode: Depends on compression ratio and no. of pixels (LN mode: approx. upto card capacity with SanDisk Extreme III TBD)
Integrated Flash
Built-in flash Retractable flash (Auto pop-up type), GN=12 (ISO 100.m)
Compatible external flash FL-50R, FL-36R, FL-50, FL-36, FL-20
Flash control mode TTL Auto (TTL pre-flash mode), Auto, Manual
Flash mode Auto, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction slow sync., Fill-in, Slow synchronization, Manual, Off.
Synchronization speed 1/180 sec. or less, Super FP up to 1/4000 sec.
Flash intensity controlUp to ±2 EV in 1/3 EV steps
Synchronization timing 1st curtain synchronization/2nd curtain slow synchronization (selectable)
Flash bracketing Not available
Wireless flash control
Compatible external flash FL-50R, FL-36R
Control method Triggered and controlled by built-in flash light
Flash control modes TTL Auto (TTL pre-flash mode), Auto, Manual, FP TTL Auto, FP Manual.
Number of channels 4 channels
Group setting 3 groups
Super control panel
Information (Shooting) Battery information, Exposure mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure compensation value, ISO sensitivity,
Exposure compensation indicator, Exposure indicator, Flash intensity compensation indicator, Date, BKT warning,
NR warning, WB, WB compensation value, Picture mode, Flash mode, Record mode, Image size, Card information,
Drive mode, Flash intensity compensation value, Metering mode, Recordable still image number, Focusing mode, FP warning
AF frame, AF illuminator, Color mode, Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Gradation, Face detection.
Information (Wireless flash commander) Exposure mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure compensation value bar, Exposure compensation value
Flash compensation value bar, Flash compensation value, ALE notification, Flash compensation notification
NR notification, BKT notification, AF illuminator disactivated notification, Color space
Wirelss channel setting, Built-in flash intensity, Group setting
Back light timerBack light lighting time is selectable. (Keep, 8, 30sec, 1min)
Playback
Playback modesSingle-frame, Index (4/9/16/25/49/100 frames), Calendar, Close-up ( 2 - 14X),
Slideshow, Picture rotation (auto mode available)
Information displayHistogram (independent luminance/RGB available),
Highlight/Shadow point warning, AF frame, Shooting information
Menu
Languages Americas: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Custom setting
Custom functionLeft arrow button is available to set some functions. (Face detection, Preview, OFF, One touch WB, Live preview, Test picture)
Drive button is available to set some functions. (Drive, AF target selection, S-AF/C-AF/MF selection, WB mode, Metering mode, ISO setting)
Custom reset 2 settings are recordable.
My modeNot available
Image Editing
Erasing function Single frame, All frames, Selected frames (with protect function)
Protect function Single frame, Selected frames, Release protect (Single/All selected)
Copy between media Single frame, All frames, Selected frames
RAW picture editing RAW development
JPEG editing Gradation AUTO, Red-eye reduction, Triming, Monotone, Sepia, Saturation (colour depth), Resize (producing another file)
Print
Print functionPrint reservation (DPOF), Direct print (PictBridge compatible)
Input/Output
PC interface USB 2.0 High Speed for storage and camera control (MTP mode is available)
USB/Video connector Dedicated multi-connector (Video: NTSC/PAL selectable, Optional Remote cable RM-UC1 is available)
Flash attachment Hot shoe
Power Requirements
Battery BLS-1 Li-ion battery (included)
Sleep mode Available (1, 3, 5, 10 min., off selectable)
No. of recordable pictures Approx. 500 shots (optical viewfinder)
(with 50% flash light) (with BLS-1 under CIPA testing standard)
Dimensions/Weight
Dimensions5.1 in. (W) x 3.6 in.(H) x 2.1 in. D / 129.5 mm (W) x 91 mm (H) x 53 mm (D) (excluding protrusions)
Weight 13.4 oz. / 380 g (body only)
Operating Environment
Temperature32-104F / 0 - 40 (operation) / -20 - 60 (storage)
Humidity30 - 90% (operation) / 10 - 90% (storage)
Box contents
E-420 body, 14-42mm lens or 25mm f2.8 (kit contents), Li-ion battery BLS-1, Li-ion battery charger BCS-1, USB cable, Video cable, Shoulder strap, OLYMPUS Master 2 CD-ROM, Instruction manual, Warranty card, Eye-piece cap EP-4.

NOTE: These specifications are as represented by the manufacturer.


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