Olympus E-30 vs E-420
The Olympus E-30 and the Olympus E-420 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2008 and March 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-30 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the E-420 provides 10 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 Olympus E-30 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-30 and the Olympus E-420. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
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 (23 percent) than the Olympus E-30. Moreover, the E-420 is substantially lighter (37 percent) than the E-30. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-30 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available 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 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.
|1.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699||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 naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 markedly lower price (by 54 percent) than the E-30, 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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.
In terms of chip-set technology, the E-30 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic III+) than the E-420 (TruePic III), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-30 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the E-420. This megapixels advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-30 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-30 is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the E-420, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-30 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-30 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-420 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus E-30 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-420 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
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.
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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|2.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|3.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|4.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|5.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|6.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|7.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|8.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|9.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|10.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|11.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|12.||Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-30 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 viewfinder in the E-30 offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the E-420 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the E-30 has a higher magnification (0.51x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-30 and Olympus E-420 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-30||optical||Y||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|3.||Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|4.||Olympus E-600||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-620||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-3||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Olympus E-510||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5 / 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.|
One feature that is present on the E-30, but is missing on the E-420 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The E-30 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-420 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-30 and the E-420 write their files to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
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 Olympus E-30 and Olympus E-420 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-30||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-420||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Olympus E-450||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-600||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-620||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-520||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-3||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-410||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-510||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-400||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the E-30 and the E-420 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Olympus. Further information on the features and operation of the E-30 and E-420 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-30 Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus E-420 Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-30 and the Olympus E-420? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-30:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic III+ vs TruePic III).
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.51x vs 0.46x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) 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.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 8 months after the E-420).
Advantages of the Olympus E-420:
- More compact: Is smaller (130x91mm vs 142x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 261g or 37 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (54 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2008).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-30 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 4 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-30 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-30 or the E-420. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
|1.||Olympus E-30||..||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||..||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||..||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-400||..||85/100||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 10D vs Olympus E-420
- Canon 1100D vs Olympus E-30
- Canon 800D vs Olympus E-420
- Canon T5i vs Olympus E-30
- Epson R-D1 vs Olympus E-30
- Nikon 1 J4 vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon D3300 vs Olympus E-30
- Nikon P900 vs Olympus E-420
- Olympus E-30 vs Pentax K-30
- Olympus E-30 vs Pentax K-5
- Olympus E-420 vs Pentax KP
- Olympus E-420 vs Sony RX100
Specifications: Olympus E-30 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 Model||Olympus E-30||Olympus E-420|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2008||March 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-30||Olympus E-420|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||4.44 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III+||TruePic III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||55||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.3||21.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||530||527|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-30||Olympus E-420|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||2.7inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-30||Olympus E-420|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||CF or XD cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-30||Olympus E-420|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-30||Olympus E-420|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||500 shots per charge|
142 x 108 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.3 x 3.0 in)
130 x 91 x 53 mm
(5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
|Camera Weight||701 g (24.7 oz)||440 g (15.5 oz)|
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