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You are hereHome > Best Digital Cameras > Olympus E-420 DSLR

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Olympus E-420 Review

Review Date: May 15, 2008

Olympus E-420
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Photoxels Editor's Choice 2008 - Compact DSLR
Photoxels Editor's Choice 2008 - Compact DSLR

Category: Family DSLR, Beginner to Serious

The Olympus E-420 DSLR replaces the EVOLT E-410, keeps the title "smallest and lightest consumer DSLR" and adds:

  1. A larger 2.7-in. LCD with a high 230,000 pixels resolution. New and Improved HyperCrystal II™ Technology delivers twice the contrast and better viewing in extreme lighting conditions, a broader range of colour detail, and a wider angle of view (176 degrees) on the LCD.
  2. Continuous Shooting 3.5fps (8 frames RAW).
  3. A slightly redesigned handgrip for a more comfortable hold.
  4. Wireless Flash capability. Compatible with the Olympus FL-50R and FL-36R wireless electronic flashes. The E-420 can control up to three wireless flash groups independently, with several flash units per group.

The E-420 retains the Dust Reduction System but still lacks the CCD-shift Mechanical Image Stabilization (IS) that compensates for camera shake found in the EVOLT E-510.

With 18 Scene Modes, beginner photographers find an easy transition from point-and-shoot digicams to DSLR photography. On-Screen Autofocus displays subjects in focus on the LCD (using Contrast Detect AF) 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 for sharp portraits. Shadow Adjustment Technology captures detail in the bright areas of a frame and opens up detail in the shadows that would otheriwse be rendered too dark or underexposed. Perfect Shot Preview enables you to view and select your favourite effect right on the LCD.

The E-420 has dual memory card slots and accepts the xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash Type I & II (including Microdrives) cards.

The E-420 can be purchased with a kit lens: a light and compact Zuiko Digital ED 14-42 mm f3.5 - f5.6 Lens (28-84mm, 35mm equivalent).

The Olympus E-420 is targeted to the first-time DSLR user who is transitioning from point-and-shoot digicams and want a user-friendly, light and compact DSLR. Being part of the Olympus E-System, the E-420 is compatible with the large and growing range of Olympus E-System accessories, including the full line-up of Zuiko Digital Specific lenses and flashes.

Read our Olympus E-420 review...
Olympus E-420
QuickFact™ Sheet
  Olympus E-420US | CAN | UK  
Type Type Single-lens reflex Live View digital camera with interchangeable lens system
Media CompactFlash Type I/II, Microdrive, xD-Picture Card (Dual-Slot)
Imaging Size 17.3 mm (H) x 13.0 mm (V) (Four Thirds)
Lens Mount Four Thirds Mount
Number of Effective Pixels 10 million pixels
Image Sensor Type Live MOS Sensor
Effective Pixel Number Approx. 11.8 million pixels
Aspect 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 System Recording Format DCF, DPOF compatible/Exif, PRINT Image Matching III
File formate RAW (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 Normal (1/8 compressed) Approx. 2.2MB

- 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 Type Eye-level single-lens reflex viewfinder
View field coverage Approx. 95%
Magnification Approx.0.92x (-1m-1, 50mm lens, infinity)
Eye Point Approx. 14 mm (-1m-1)
Diopter Adjustment -3.0 - +1m-1
Focusing Screen Fixed (Neo Lumi-Micron Mat screen)
Eye Piece Shutter Eye piece cap EP-4 supplied
Eye cup Interchangeable type EP-5/6/7, EP-5 supplied (Magnifier Eyecup ME-1 is available)
Preview Can be checked (when Left arrow pad is set in preview mode), selectable from the optical viewfinder or rear-mounted LCD monitor
Viewfinder information Aperture 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
AF High speed imager AF, Phase-difference detection AF
Image Stabilizer Not available Not available
LCD Display Type HyperCrystal II LCD (semi-transmissive TFT colour 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  * C-AF mode is not available with the contrast detection system
Focusing point 3-point multiple AF with the phase-difference detection system (Auto, selectable in option)
11-point multiple AF with the contrast detection system (Auto, selectable in option)
Focusing point selection Auto/Option selectable
AF luminance range EV 0 to 19 (at 20°C, 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) Center weighted average metering
(3) Spot metering (approx. 2% for the viewfinder screen)
(4) Spot with Highlight control
(5) Spot with Shadow control
Metering range EV 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 EV steps
AE Lock Locked by first position of Shutter button / AEL button (customizable)
Exposure Bracketing 3 frames in 0.3, 0.7, 1EV steps selectable
White Balance Auto WB system Advanced detection system with Live MOS sensor
Preset WB 8 settings (3000K - 7500K)
Lamp (3000K), Fluorescent 1 (4000K), Fluorescent 2 (4500K), Fluorescent 3 (6600K), Daylight (5300K), Flash (5500K), Cloudy (6000K), Shade (7500K)
WB Compensation ±7 steps in each A-B/G-M axis (in Auto WB/Preset WB/One touch WB mode)
Custom WB 1 setting can be registered at Kelvin temperature (2000K - 14000K)
One-touch WB 1 custom setting can be registered
WB Bracketing Not available
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 Type Computerized focal-plane shutter
Shutter Speed Auto mode: 2 - 1/4000 sec. (depends on settings),
P(Ps), S, A, M mode: 60 - 1/4000 sec. (Bulb: up to 30 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 30 sec in each 1 sec selectable)
Drive Drive Mode Single-frame shooting, Sequential shooting, Self-timer, Remote control
Sequential Shooting Speed Approx. 3.5 frames/sec
Max. recordable pictures
on sequential shooting
RAW mode: Max. 8 frames
JPEG mode: Depends on compression ratio and no. of pixels
(LN mode: approx. up to card capacity  with High Speed CF Cards like SanDisk Extreme III)
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, SRF-11, STF-22
Flash control mode TTL Auto (TTL pre-flash mode), Auto, Manual
Flash mode Auto, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction slow sync., Slow sync at 1st curtain, Slow sync at 2nd curtain, Fill-in,
Manual (1/4, 1/16, 1/64), Off
Synchronization speed 1/180 sec. or less, Super FP up to 1/4000 sec.
Flash intensity control Up to ±2 EV in 1/3 EV steps
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 mode 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 Battery information, Exposure mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure compensation value, ISO sensitivity, Exposure compensation indicator, Exposure indicator, Flash intensity compensation indicator, Date, BKT setting, NR setting, 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 deactivated notification, Colour space, Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Gradation, Face detection, RC mode setting.
Information (wireless flash commander) - Exposure mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure compensation indicator, Exposure compensation value
- Flash compensation indicator, Flash compensation value, ALE notification, Flash compensation notification
- NR notification, BKT notification, AF illuminator deactivated notification, Colour space
- Wireless channel setting, Built-in flash intensity, Group setting
Back light timer Back light lighting time is selectable. (Keep, 8, 30sec, 1min)
Playback Playback modes Single-frame, Index (4/9/16/25/49/100 frames), Calendar, Close-up ( 2 - 14X), Slideshow, Picture rotation (auto mode available).
Information display Histogram (independent luminance/RGB available), Highlight/Shadow point warning, AF frame, Shooting information
Menu Languages Americas: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Custom setting Custom function

Left arrow button is available to set 6 functions. (Face detection, Preview, OFF, One touch WB, Live preview, Test picture)
Drive button is available to set 6 functions. (Drive, AF target selection, AF mode, WB mode, Metering mode, ISO setting)

Custom reset 2 settings are recordable
My mode Not 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 Shadow adjustment, Red-eye fix, Trimming, Monotone, Sepia, Saturation (colour depth), Resize (producing another file)
Print Print function Print reservation (DPOF), Direct print (PictBridge compatible)
Input / Output PC interface High Speed USB 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
(with 50% flash light)
Approx. 500 shots (optical viewfinder)
(with BLS-1 under CIPA testing standard)
Dimensions / Weight Dimensions (W x H x D) 129.5 x 91 x 53 mm /
5.09 x 3.58 x 2.08 in.
(excluding protrusions)
Weight 380 g / 13.4 oz. (body only)
Operating Environment Temperature 32-104F / 0 - 40° (operation) / -20 - 60° (storage)
Humidity 30 - 90% (operation) / 10 - 90% (storage)
Box Contents

E-420 body, 14-42mm lens (kit contents)

Li-ion battery BLS-1, Li-ion battery charger BCS-1
USB cable, Video cable
Shoulder Strap
Registration card
Eye piece cap EP-4
(Estimated Street Price)
Body only CAD $529.99 / US $499 / £339.99
with ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens CAD $629.99 / US $599 / £379.99
with F2.8, 25 mm "pancake" lens US $699

* Specifications and design are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer. All trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective holder.
©2008 Olympus Imaging America Inc.

Product technical specifications (including MSRP and Included Accessories) are as represented by the manufacturer and subject to manufacturer's change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer. Product color availability and included accessories may also differ by country or area. Please verify the latest specs from the appropriate manufacturer's site.

Before you buy, do your homework and verify a seller's reputation. One source you may want to check with is Resellerratings.com. And remember, if a price seems to good to be true, it probably is.


Though we make every effort to strive for accuracy in reproducing these specs, we do occasionally make mistakes, so verify with the manufacturer's site for the latest specs. Also, in the early stages of a product introduction, you can almost guarantee there will be some errors from the manufacturers themselves as they update their sites. If you see any mistakes, please contact us. We do appreciate your writing in with the corrections and thank you in advance!

B&H Photo VideoYou can buy the Olympus E-420 from our Trusted Sponsor B&H Photo-Video, the Professional’s Source, satisfying millions of customers for over 35 years:



Olympus E-420
25mm f/2.8 Pancake Zuiko Lens
ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens


25mm f/2.8 Pancake Zuiko Lens
ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens

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