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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|2.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|3.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|6.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|7.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|8.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|9.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|10.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|11.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|12.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|2.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|6.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|7.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|8.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|9.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|10.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|11.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.7||10.3||45||51|
|12.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|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-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.
|1.||Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n|
|3.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n|
|7.||Olympus E-620||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|10.||Olympus E-510||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-500||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|12.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 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.
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.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-400||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-420||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-450||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-620||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-520||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-410||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-510||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-500||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Olympus E-400||..||85/100||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|2.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|3.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|6.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|7.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||..||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|8.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|9.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|10.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|11.||Olympus E-500||..||76/100||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|12.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|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.
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.
- Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Olympus E-400
- Canon 1Ds vs Olympus E-400
- Canon 300D vs Olympus E-420
- Fujifilm GFX 50R vs Olympus E-400
- Kodak AZ901 vs Olympus E-400
- Nikon D3 vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon D3300 vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon D7000 vs Olympus E-420
- Olympus E-400 vs Olympus E-500
- Olympus E-400 vs Olympus E-P1
- Olympus E-420 vs Panasonic TZ95
- Olympus E-420 vs Sony A7R
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 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 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||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%|
|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|
|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 Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||500 shots per charge|
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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