Canon SX420 vs Olympus E-1
The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Olympus E-1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and June 2003. The SX420 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and a Four Thirds (E-1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 4.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Olympus E-1? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SX420 and the Olympus E-1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The SX420 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the E-1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-1 is considerably larger (104 percent) than the Canon SX420. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-1 is splash and dust-proof, while the SX420 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX420 has a lens built in, whereas the E-1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-1 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the SX420 gets 195 shots out of its NB-11LH battery, while the E-1 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon SX430||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||323 g||195||n||Jan 2017||299||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||106 mm||61 mm||42 mm||319 g||265||n||Feb 2016||699||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SX620||97 mm||57 mm||28 mm||182 g||295||n||May 2016||279||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon G5 X||112 mm||76 mm||44 mm||353 g||210||n||Oct 2015||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon SX610||105 mm||61 mm||27 mm||191 g||270||n||Jan 2015||249||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349||ebay.com|
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999||ebay.com|
|17.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799||ebay.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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SX420 was launched at a lower price than the E-1, despite having a lens built 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX420 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Olympus E-1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-1 is 704 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 4.9 MP of the Olympus E-1. 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 1.19μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1). However, it should be noted that the SX420 is much more recent (by 12 years and 6 months) than the E-1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX420 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Canon SX420 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX420 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.8 x 19.3 inches or 65.4 x 49.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.6 x 15.5 inches or 52.3 x 39.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.2 x 12.9 inches or 43.6 x 32.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-1 are 12.8 x 9.6 inches or 32.5 x 24.4 cm for good quality, 10.2 x 7.7 inches or 26 x 19.5 cm for very good quality, and 8.5 x 6.4 inches or 21.7 x 16.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CCD (Charged Coupled Device) 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.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||20.0||9.7||-145||44|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.8||11.9||260||62|
|9.||Canon G5 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||471||62|
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|14.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|15.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|16.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||20.8||10.4||73||52|
|17.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.4||10.1||-40||48|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The SX420 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-1 does not. The highest resolution format that the SX420 can use is 720/25p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-1 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX420 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX420 and Olympus E-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon SX420||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Olympus E-1||optical||Y||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon SX430||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon M100||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon SX730||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon SX620||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/2000s||2.5/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon SX720||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon SX410||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Canon SX610||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/2000s||2.5/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Canon SX710||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5 / 207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Olympus E-5||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-3||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5 / 215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX420 has one, while the E-1 does not. While the built-in flash of the SX420 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The SX420 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-1 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SX420 only has one slot.
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 PowerShot SX420 IS and Olympus E-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon SX420||-||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|2.||Olympus E-1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon SX430||-||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon M100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon SX730||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon SX620||-||mono / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon SX720||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Canon G5 X||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Canon SX410||-||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon SX610||-||- / -||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Canon SX710||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-5||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-3||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-330||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-300||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the SX420 offers wifi support, while the E-1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-1 (unlike the SX420) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SX420 and the E-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-1 was replaced by the Olympus E-3, while the SX420 was followed by the Canon SX430. Further information on the features and operation of the SX420 and E-1 can be found, respectively, in the Canon SX420 Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus E-1 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX420 better than the Olympus E-1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (19.9 vs 4.9MP) with a 101% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/25p movies.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 134k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the E-1 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (104x69mm vs 141x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-1).
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 12 years and 6 months of technical progress since the E-1 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus E-1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 0.5 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 (750 versus 195) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2003).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-1 comes out slightly ahead of the SX420 (15 : 14 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX420 and the Olympus E-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX420 or the E-1. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.
|1.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-1||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon SX430||..||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2017||299||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||4.5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||699||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SX620||..||..||..||..||..||4/5||May 2016||279||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon G5 X||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon SX610||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||249||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349||ebay.com|
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-330||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999||ebay.com|
|17.||Olympus E-300||..||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 100D vs Canon SX420
- Canon 30D vs Olympus E-1
- Canon D60 vs Canon SX420
- Canon M10 vs Olympus E-1
- Canon SX420 vs Canon SX70
- Canon SX420 vs Panasonic TZ100
- Canon SX420 vs Sony A6500
- Canon SX420 vs Sony HX80
- Fujifilm X-T2 vs Olympus E-1
- Leica V-LUX 3 vs Olympus E-1
- Nikon D7000 vs Olympus E-1
- Olympus E-1 vs Olympus E-420
Specifications: Canon SX420 vs Olympus E-1
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 Model||Canon SX420||Olympus E-1|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||June 2003|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-1|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||19.9 Megapixels||4.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5152 x 3864 pixels||2560 x 1920 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.19 μm||6.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||70.91 MP/cm2||2.19 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/25p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||TruePic|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-1|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||1.8inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||134k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||0.5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XD cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-1|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||195 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
104 x 69 x 85 mm
(4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
141 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||738 g (26.0 oz)|
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