Olympus E-3 versus Olympus E-420
The Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-420 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2007 and March 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 10 megapixel.
The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-420 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions 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 side – the E-3 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
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 (28 percent) than the Olympus E-3. Moreover, the E-420 is substantially lighter (50 percent) than the E-3. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-3 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-420 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics 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
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ rgt)||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||YES||2007||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||no||2008||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||YES||2007||1,799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||YES||2010||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||no||2009||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||no||2009||499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||no||2009||449||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||no||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||no||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||no||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||no||2007||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||no||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||YES||2003||1,699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||no||2007||599||discont.||check|
The listed 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 65 percent) than the E-3, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 10 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-3 and the E-420 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-420 is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 months) than the E-3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||no||22.1||12.0||679||67|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||no||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-3 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-3 and Olympus E-420 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||no|
|Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||swivel||no||4000||4.0||12||YES|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||no|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||swivel||no||4000||4.0||12||YES|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||YES|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.7||230||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||10||no|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||12||YES|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||10||no|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||1.8||134||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||207||swivel||no||4000||3.0||11||no|
Both the E-3 and the E-420 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-3 was replaced by the Olympus E-5, while the E-420 does not have a direct successor.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus E-3 better than the Olympus E-420 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-3:
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 500) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2007).
Advantages of the Olympus E-420:
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More compact: Is smaller (130x91mm vs 142x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 436g or 50 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (4 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-3 emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 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.
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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-3 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. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ rgt)||88/100||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||4/5||2007||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft)||85/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2008||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||1,799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||75/100||4/5||-||4.5/5||2010||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100||72/100 HiRec||4.5/5||reviewed||5/5||2009||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||4/5||2009||499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||4.5/5||2009||449||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||87/100||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||71/100 HiRec||4.5/5||-||4/5||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt)||89/100||HiRec||3.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||-||4/5||-||4/5||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||Rec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2003||1,699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||Rec||3.5/5||reviewed||4/5||2007||599||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.
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