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Canon G16 versus Olympus E-420

The Canon PowerShot G16 and the Olympus E-420 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2013 and March 2008. The G16 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-420 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (G16) and a Four Thirds sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 10 MP.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon G16 and the Olympus E-420. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the G16 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Canon G16 vs Olympus E-420 front
G16 versus E-420 top view
G16 and E-420 rear side
Body view (G16 on the left)

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 considerably larger (43 percent) than the Canon G16. Cameras intended for semi-professional or professional use tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary ruggedness. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G16 nor the E-420 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G16 has a lens build in, whereas the E-420 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the E-420 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon G16 (⇒ rgt) 4.3 in 3.0 in 1.6 in 12.6 oz 360 no 2013 549 latest check
Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 no 2008 599discont. check
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.3 oz 235 no 2017 529 latest check
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.4 oz 220 no 2015 529discont. check
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 2.9 in 2.6 in 19.5 oz 240 no 2014 799 latest check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 no 2013 649discont. check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 no 2013 549discont. check
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 3.2 in 2.6 in 18.8 oz 250 no 2012 799discont. check
Fujifilm X30 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 2.8 in 2.4 in 14.9 oz 470 no 2014 599 latest check
Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 2.8 in 2.2 in 12.5 oz 270 no 2013 599discont. check
Fujifilm X10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 2.8 in 2.2 in 12.3 oz 270 no 2011 599discont. check
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 no 2009 499discont. check
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 no 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 no 2007 699discont. check
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 no 2006 699discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 no 2007 599discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The G16 was launched at a lower price than the E-420, despite having a lens build in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color depth than smaller pixels 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G16 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Olympus E-420 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-420 is 436 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.65 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon G16 and Olympus E-420 sensor measures
Sensor size

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon G16 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixel, compared with 10 MP of the Olympus E-420. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.86μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420). However, it should be noted that the G16 is much more recent (by 5 years and 5 months) than the E-420, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

G16 versus E-420 MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon G16 (⇒ rgt) 1/1.7 12.0 4000 3000 1080/60p 21.0 11.7 230 54
Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.5 10.4 527 56
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.9 12.5 522 65
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.5 12.3 495 63
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 3120 1080/30p 21.5 10.8 581 58
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.7 11.2 681 61
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.8 11.3 843 63
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 3264 1080/24p 21.7 10.8 644 60
Fujifilm X30 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2/3 12.0 4000 3000 1080/60p - - - -
Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2/3 12.0 4000 3000 1080/60p - - - -
Fujifilm X10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2/3 12.0 4000 3000 1080/30p 20.5 11.3 245 50
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.5 10.5 512 56
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.4 10.4 548 55
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.1 10.0 494 51
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no - - - -
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.3 10.8 429 55

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The G16 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the G16 can use is 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The G16 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon G16, the Olympus E-420, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon G16 (⇒ rgt) optical no 3.0 922 fixed no 4000 2.2 7 no
Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 no
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 8.2 6 no
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 6.0 6 no
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 5.2 6.8 no
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 13 no
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 4.9 9.4 no
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 922 Swivel no 4000 1.9 7 no
Fujifilm X30 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 920 tilting no 4000 12.0 7 no
Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.8 460 fixed no 4000 12.0 7 no
Fujifilm X10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.8 460 fixed no 4000 10.0 9 no
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 no
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 YES
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 3.0 10 no
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 3.0 10 no
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 swivel no 4000 3.0 11 no

The G16 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the E-420 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the E-420 from Olympus.

Summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon G16 and the Canon G16? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


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Advantages of the Canon PowerShot G16:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12 vs 10MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.3 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 215k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a build-in lens, while the E-420 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (109x76mm vs 130x91mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a build-in lens (unlike the E-420).
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 5 months of technical progress since the E-420 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-420:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.2 stops ISO advantage).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 2.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 360) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in March 2008).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the G16 is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 5 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.

G16 10:05 E-420

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the G16 or the E-420 handle or perform in practice. 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. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon G16 (⇒ rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 549 latest check
Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft) 85/100 HiRec 4/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2008 599discont. check
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) .. .. 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 529 latest check
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec - 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 529discont. check
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2014 799 latest check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) - 76/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 649discont. check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 78/100 Gold 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 549discont. check
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 79/100 Rec 76/100 Silver 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2012 799discont. check
Fujifilm X30 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 76/100 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2014 599 latest check
Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 5/5 2013 599discont. check
Fujifilm X10 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 76/100 Silver 4/5 3.5/5 4.5/5 2011 599discont. check
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4/5 2009 499discont. check
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 HiRec 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) 86/100 HiRec 4/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 699discont. check
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 - 4/5 - 4/5 2006 699discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec 3.5/5 reviewed 4/5 2007 599discont. check

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Other comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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