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Canon SX420 vs Olympus E-500

The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and September 2005. The SX420 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and a Four Thirds (E-500) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 8 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX420
versus
Olympus E-500
Canon SX420   Olympus E-500
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 Four Thirds lenses
19.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor 8 MP – Four Thirds sensor
720/25p Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-400 (100 - 1,600)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 230k dots 3.0" LCD – 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.5 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
195 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
104 x 69 x 85 mm, 325 g 130 x 95 x 66 mm, 479 g
Canon SX420:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-500:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Olympus Evolt E-500? 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 SX420 and the Olympus E-500 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.

The SX420 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the E-500 is only available in black.

Size Canon SX420 vs Olympus E-500
Compare SX420 versus E-500 top
Comparison SX420 or E-500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-500 is considerably larger (72 percent) than the Canon SX420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX420 nor the E-500 are weather-sealed.

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-500 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-500 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-500 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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 SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
2.
 
Olympus E-500 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599i
3.
 
Canon SX430 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 323 g 195 n Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon M100 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499i
5.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 106 mm 61 mm 42 mm 319 g 265 n Feb 2016 699i
7.
 
Canon SX620 97 mm 57 mm 28 mm 182 g 295 n May 2016 279 i
8.
 
Canon SX720 110 mm 64 mm 36 mm 270 g 250 n Feb 2016 379i
9.
 
Canon G5 X 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 n Oct 2015 799i
10.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
11.
 
Canon SX610 105 mm 61 mm 27 mm 191 g 270 n Jan 2015 249i
12.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
13.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
14.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
15.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
16.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699i
17.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799i
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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The SX420 was launched at a lower price than the E-500, despite having a lens built in. 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.

Sensor comparison

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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 SX420 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Olympus E-500 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-500 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.

Canon SX420 and Olympus E-500 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 8 MP of the Olympus E-500. 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 5.30μm for the E-500). However, it should be noted that the SX420 is much more recent (by 10 years and 3 months) than the E-500, 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-500 are 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm for good quality, 13.1 x 9.8 inches or 33.2 x 24.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.9 x 8.2 inches or 27.6 x 20.7 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 Evolt E-500 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.

SX420 versus E-500 MP

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.

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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 SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p20.311.780648
2.
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.710.34551
3.
 
Canon SX430 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p20.511.990049
4.
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
5.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.511.992450
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.811.926062
7.
 
Canon SX620 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p20.411.883849
8.
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.311.881748
9.
 
Canon G5 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.811.922761
10.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p20.211.672047
11.
 
Canon SX610 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p20.211.671247
12.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.211.671247
13.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
14.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
15.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.47352
16.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.010.612753
17.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.410.1-4048
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The SX420 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-500 does not. The highest resolution format that the SX420 can use is 720/25p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-500 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX420, the Olympus E-500, and comparable cameras.

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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 SX420none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
2.
 
Olympus E-500optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
3.
 
Canon SX430none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon M100none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1/s Y n
5.
 
Canon SX730none n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark IInone n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 8.0/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX620none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX720none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon G5 X2360 n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/2000s 5.9/s Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX410none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX610none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5/s Y Y
12.
 
Canon SX710none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0/s Y Y
13.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-400optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-300optical n1.8 / 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.

The SX420 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-500 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-500 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SX420 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 PowerShot SX420 IS and Olympus Evolt E-500 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 SX420-mono / mono---2.0YY-
2.
 
Olympus E-500Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX430-mono / mono---2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon M100-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon SX730-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX620-mono / mono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX720-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon G5 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon SX410-stereo / mono---2.0---
11.
 
Canon SX610-- / ---micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Canon SX710-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Olympus E-410Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-400Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-300Y- / ----2.0---

It is notable that the SX420 offers wifi support, while the E-500 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the SX420 and the E-500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-500 was replaced by the Olympus E-510, while the SX420 was followed by the Canon SX430. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX420 or the Olympus E-500 – 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 PowerShot SX420 IS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (19.9 vs 8MP) with a 58% 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 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the E-500 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (104x69mm vs 130x95mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-500).
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • 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 10 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-500 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus Evolt E-500:

  • 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.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2.5 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 lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • 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 September 2005).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (12 points each). 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 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.

SX420 12:12 E-500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX420 and the Olympus E-500 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX420 and the E-500 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews 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.

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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 SX420..........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
2.
 
Olympus E-500..76/100..+ +.... Sep 2005 599i
3.
 
Canon SX430........3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon M1003/5+....4/53.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
5.
 
Canon SX730..+....4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II4.5/5+ +..81/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 699i
7.
 
Canon SX620..........4/5 May 2016 279 i
8.
 
Canon SX720..+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2016 379i
9.
 
Canon G5 X5/5+ +..78/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799i
10.
 
Canon SX410..o........ Feb 2015 279i
11.
 
Canon SX610........4/54/5 Jan 2015 249i
12.
 
Canon SX710..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
13.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
14.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
15.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999i
16.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100....4/54/5 Sep 2006 699i
17.
 
Olympus E-300......+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon SX420:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-500:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon SX420 vs Olympus E-500

    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 SX420 Olympus E-500
    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 September 2005
    Launch Price USD 299 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon SX420 Olympus E-500
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    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
    Crop Factor 5.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 19.9 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5152 x 3864 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.19 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 70.91 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/25p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4+ TruePic
    Screen Specs Canon SX420 Olympus E-500
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.45x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX420 Olympus E-500
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.5 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX420 Olympus E-500
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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-500
    Battery Type NB-11LH BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)195 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 69 x 85 mm
    (4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
    130 x 95 x 66 mm
    (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 325 g (11.5 oz) 479 g (16.9 oz)
    Canon SX420:
    Check Ebay offers
    Olympus E-500:
    Check Ebay offers

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