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Canon 400D vs Olympus E-420

The Canon EOS 400D (called Canon XTi in some regions) and the Olympus E-420 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2006 and March 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (400D) and a Four Thirds (E-420) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 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 400D
versus
Olympus E-420
Canon 400D   Olympus E-420
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
10.1 MP – APS-C sensor 10 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5" LCD – 230k 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
370 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
127 x 84 x 65 mm, 556 g 130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 400D 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 400D and the Olympus E-420 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 400D vs Olympus E-420
Compare 400D versus E-420 top
Comparison 400D 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 larger (11 percent) than the Canon 400D. However, the E-420 is markedly lighter (21 percent) than the 400D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 400D 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 (400D) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-420).

Concerning battery life, the 400D gets 370 shots out of its NB-2LH battery, while the E-420 can take 500 images on a single charge of its BLS-1 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 400D 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799ebay.com
2.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 750D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749ebay.com
4.
 
Canon 760D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 650D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 550D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 450D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 350D 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699ebay.com
17.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-420 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the 400D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 400D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-420 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-420 is 32 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 400D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-420 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 400D and Olympus E-420 sensor measures

With 10.1MP, the 400D offers a slightly higher resolution than the E-420 (10MP), but the 400D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.71μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-420 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 6 months) than the 400D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The Canon EOS 400D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The Olympus E-420 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

400D versus E-420 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the 400D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-420 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
2.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
3.
 
Canon 750D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
4.
 
Canon 760D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
5.
 
Canon 650D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
6.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
7.
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
8.
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
9.
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
10.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
11.
 
Canon 350D APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
12.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
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 2736none21.010.612753
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
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 400D lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 400D 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 400D has a higher magnification than the one of the E-420 (0.49x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 400D and Olympus E-420 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 400Doptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-420optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
3.
 
Canon 750Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon 760Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
5.
 
Canon 650Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
6.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
7.
 
Canon 550Doptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7/s Y n
8.
 
Canon 500Doptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4/s Y n
9.
 
Canon 450Doptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
10.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5/s Y n
11.
 
Canon 350Doptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-450optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-400optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The 400D 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 400D only has one slot.

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 400D 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 400DY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-420Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 750DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 760DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon 650DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 1100DYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 550DYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 500DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 450DY- / ---mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 350DY- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D40XY- / ----2.0---
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---

Both the 400D and the E-420 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 400D was replaced by the Canon 450D, 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.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 400D or the Olympus E-420 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 400D:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.49x vs 0.46x).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2006).

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-420:

  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 116g or 21 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 370) out of a single battery charge.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 6 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-420 emerges as the winner of the match-up (7 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

400D 05:07 E-420

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 400D 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 400D or the E-420. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 400D..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799ebay.com
2.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 750D5/5....75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749ebay.com
4.
 
Canon 760D5/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 650D4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 1100D..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 550D..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 500D..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 450D..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 350D..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100..+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-450........4/54/5 Mar 2009 499ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699ebay.com
17.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100....4/54/5 Sep 2006 699ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

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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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon 400D 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 400D Olympus E-420
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date August 2006 March 2008
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon 400D Olympus E-420
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.2 x 14.8 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 328.56 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.7 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.71 μm 4.74 μm
    Pixel Density 3.07 MP/cm2 4.44 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC II TruePic III
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 62 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 21.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.0 10.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 664 527
    Screen Specs Canon 400D Olympus E-420
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.49x 0.46x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 400D Olympus E-420
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 400D Olympus E-420
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 400D Olympus E-420
    Battery Type NB-2LH BLS-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 127 x 84 x 65 mm
    (5.0 x 3.3 x 2.6 in)
    130 x 91 x 53 mm
    (5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
    Camera Weight 556 g (19.6 oz) 440 g (15.5 oz)
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    Check 400D offers at
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    Check E-420 offers at
    ebay.com

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