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Canon 10D vs Olympus E-420

The Canon EOS 10D and the Olympus E-420 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2003 and March 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (10D) and a Four Thirds (E-420) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 6.3 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 10D versus Olympus E-420
Canon 10D Olympus E-420
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
6.3 MP, APS-C Sensor 10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8 LCD, 118k dots 2.7 LCD, 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
500 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
150 x 107 x 75 mm, 850 g 130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 10D and the Olympus E-420? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Canon 10D and the Olympus E-420 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 10D vs Olympus E-420
Compare 10D versus E-420 top
Comparison 10D or E-420 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-420 is notably smaller (26 percent) than the Canon 10D. Moreover, the E-420 is substantially lighter (48 percent) than the 10D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 10D nor the E-420 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (10D) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-420).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
2.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
3.
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
4.
 
Canon SL1 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
5.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
6.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
7.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
8.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
9.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
10.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
11.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
12.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
13.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499i
14.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
16.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
17.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-420 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 70 percent) than the 10D, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 10D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-420 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-420 is 34 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the 10D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-420 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 10D and Olympus E-420 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-420 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 6.3 MP of the 10D. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.74μm versus 7.38μm for the 10D). However, it should be noted that the E-420 is much more recent (by 5 years) than the 10D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-420 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-420 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 10D are 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm for good quality, 12.3 x 8.2 inches or 31.2 x 20.8 cm for very good quality, and 10.2 x 6.8 inches or 26 x 17.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 10D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-420 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

10D versus E-420 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
2.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
3.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
4.
 
Canon SL1 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
5.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
6.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
7.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
8.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
9.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
10.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
11.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
12.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
13.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
14.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
15.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
16.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
17.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none........
The E-420 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The 10D lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 10D and the E-420 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the 10D has a higher magnification than the one of the E-420 (0.55x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 10D, the Olympus E-420, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-420optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
3.
 
Canon T5optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon SL1optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
5.
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
8.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
11.
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-520optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-410optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-400optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the 10D, but is missing on the E-420 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The 10D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-420 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-420 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 10D only has one slot.

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Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 10D and Olympus E-420 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
2.
 
Olympus E-420Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon T5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
4.
 
Canon SL1YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
8.
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
9.
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
10.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
11.
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
12.
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
13.
 
Olympus E-450Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-520Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-410Y-----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-400Y-----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 10D (unlike the E-420) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 10D and the E-420 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 10D was replaced by the Canon 20D, while the E-420 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 10D or the Olympus E-420 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 10D:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.55x vs 0.46x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2003).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-420:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 6.3MP), which boosts linear resolution by 24%.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (215k vs 118k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (130x91mm vs 150x107mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 410g or 48 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (70 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years of technical progress since the 10D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-420 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

10D 04:10 E-420

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 10D and the Olympus E-420 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 10D or the E-420. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 10D....+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
2.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
3.
 
Canon T53/5+..4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
4.
 
Canon SL14/5+78/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
5.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
6.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
7.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
8.
 
Canon 30D..+ ++ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
9.
 
Canon 20D....+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
10.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
11.
 
Canon D60....+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
12.
 
Nikon D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
13.
 
Olympus E-450......4/54/5 Mar 2009 499i
14.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/10072/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
16.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
17.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100..4/54/5 Sep 2006 699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 10D:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-420:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 10D vs Olympus E-420

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 10D Olympus E-420
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2003 March 2008
    Launch Price USD 1,999 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon 10D Olympus E-420
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.7 x 15.1 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 342.77 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27.3 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6.3 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3072 x 2048 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.38 μm 4.74 μm
    Pixel Density 1.84 MP/cm2 4.44 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC TruePic III
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 57 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.1 21.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.9 10.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 571 527
    Screen Specs Canon 10D Olympus E-420
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.55x 0.46x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 118k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 10D Olympus E-420
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 10D Olympus E-420
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 1.1 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 10D Olympus E-420
    Battery Type BP-511 BLS-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 150 x 107 x 75 mm
    (5.9 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
    130 x 91 x 53 mm
    (5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
    Camera Weight 850 g (30.0 oz) 440 g (15.5 oz)

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