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Olympus E-400 vs E-420

The Olympus E-400 and the Olympus E-420 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 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 megapixels.

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

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-400
versus
Olympus E-420
Olympus E-400   Olympus E-420
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 215k dots 2.7 LCD, 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
500 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
130 x 91 x 53 mm, 435 g 130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-400 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-400 and the Olympus E-420. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Olympus E-400 vs Olympus E-420
Compare E-400 versus E-420 top
Comparison E-400 or E-420 rear

In this particular case, the Olympus E-400 and the Olympus E-420 have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the E-420 is slightly heavier (1 percent) than the E-400. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-400 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

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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.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699i
2.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
3.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
4.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799i
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
6.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499i
7.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
8.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
9.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
10.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
11.
 
Olympus E-500 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599i
12.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
Notes: 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 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 somewhat lower price (by 14 percent) than the E-400, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. 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. 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 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.

Technology-wise, the E-420 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic III) than the E-400 (TruePic), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Olympus E-400 and Olympus E-420 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 10 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-400 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 1 year and 5 months) than the E-400, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Olympus E-400 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The Olympus E-420 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

E-400 versus E-420 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). 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.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.010.612753
2.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
3.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
4.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
6.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
7.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
8.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
9.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
10.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
11.
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.710.34551
12.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The E-420 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The E-400 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-400 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), as well as the same magnification (0.46x). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-400, the Olympus E-420, 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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Olympus E-400optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-420optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
3.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n3.0 / 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
6.
 
Olympus E-450optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
7.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
8.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
9.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
11.
 
Olympus E-500optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
12.
 
Panasonic L10optical n2.5 / 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-400 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.

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 Olympus E-400 and Olympus E-420 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.
 
Olympus E-400Y- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-420Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D40XY- / ----2.0---
4.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
6.
 
Olympus E-450Y- / ----2.0---
7.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-410Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-500Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic L10Y- / ----2.0---

Both the E-400 and the E-420 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-400 was replaced by the Olympus E-410, while the E-420 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-400 and the Olympus E-420? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-400:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2006).


Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-420:

  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic III vs TruePic).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 5 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-420 is the clear winner of the contest (5 : 1 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 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.

E-400 01:05 E-420

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-400 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-400 and the E-420 in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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.

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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.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100....4/54/5 Sep 2006 699i
2.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
3.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100..+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
4.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/100..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
5.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
6.
 
Olympus E-450........4/54/5 Mar 2009 499i
7.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
8.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
9.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
10.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
11.
 
Olympus E-500..76/100..+ +.... Sep 2005 599i
12.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100..+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Olympus E-400:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-420:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-400 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 Specifications
    Camera Model Olympus E-400 Olympus E-420
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2006 March 2008
    Launch Price USD 699 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-400 Olympus E-420
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.74 μm 4.74 μm
    Pixel Density 4.44 MP/cm2 4.44 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic TruePic III
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 527
    Screen Specs Olympus E-400 Olympus E-420
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.46x 0.46x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 215k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-400 Olympus E-420
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XD cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-400 Olympus E-420
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-400 Olympus E-420
    Battery Type BLS-1 BLS-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 130 x 91 x 53 mm
    (5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
    130 x 91 x 53 mm
    (5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
    Camera Weight 435 g (15.3 oz) 440 g (15.5 oz)

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