Olympus E-400 vs Pentax Q
The Olympus E-400 and the Pentax Q are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2006 and June 2011. The E-400 is a DSLR, while the Pentax Q is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-400) and a 1/2.3-inch (Pentax Q) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Olympus E-400||Pentax Q|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Four Thirds lenses||Pentax Q mount lenses|
|10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor|
|no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO 100-1,600||ISO 125-6,400|
|Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|2.5 LCD, 215k dots||3.0 LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||1.5 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|500 shots per battery charge||230 shots per battery charge|
|130 x 91 x 53 mm, 435 g||98 x 57 x 31 mm, 180 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-400 and the Pentax Q? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-400 and the Pentax Q is provided 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The Pentax Q can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the E-400 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax Q is considerably smaller (53 percent) than the Olympus E-400. Moreover, the Pentax Q is substantially lighter (59 percent) than the E-400. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-400 nor the Pentax Q 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
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, 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 camera comparisons there.
|Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|Pentax Q||98 mm||57 mm||31 mm||180 g||230||n||Jun 2011||649|
|Fujifilm X30||119 mm||72 mm||60 mm||423 g||470||n||Aug 2014||599|
|Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
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 Pentax Q was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the E-400 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-400 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax Q a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the Pentax Q is 88 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 5.6. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Pentax Q offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the E-400. 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 1.53μm versus 4.74μm for the E-400). However, it should be noted that the Pentax Q is much more recent (by 4 years and 9 months) than the E-400, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax Q implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Pentax Q for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-400 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-400 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax Q are ISO 125 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The Pentax Q indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-400 does not. The highest resolution format that the Pentax Q can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-400 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the Pentax Q relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the Pentax Q can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the O-VF1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-400 and Pentax Q in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One feature that differentiates the Pentax Q and the E-400 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The Pentax Q reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the E-400 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The Pentax Q has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The E-400 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the Pentax Q uses SDXC cards. The E-400 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Pentax Q only has one slot.
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 Pentax Q and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
Both the E-400 and the Pentax Q have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-400 was replaced by the Olympus E-410, while the Pentax Q was followed by the Pentax Q10. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Pentax websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-400 or the Pentax Q – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-400:
- 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 shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2006).
Advantages of the Pentax Q:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 215k dots).
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (98x57mm vs 130x91mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 255g or 59 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 9 months of technical progress since the E-400 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (10 points each). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 Pentax Q place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-400 and the Pentax Q 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Olympus E-400||85/100||..||4/5||..||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|Pentax Q||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jun 2011||649|
|Fujifilm X30||..||76/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2014||599|
|Nikon D40X||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Olympus XZ-2||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PL2||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL1||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Olympus E-450||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-620||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||o||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-420||85/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|Olympus E-520||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|Olympus E-410||86/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-510||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|Olympus E-500||76/100||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|Panasonic L10||85/100||+||3.5/5||o||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 ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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.
Specifications: Olympus E-400 vs Pentax Q
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||Pentax Q|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Pentax Q mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 649|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-400||Pentax Q|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||1.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||42.74 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||125 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||47|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||11.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||189|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-400||Pentax Q|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-400||Pentax Q|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||1.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-400||Pentax Q|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-400||Pentax Q|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||230 shots per charge|
130 x 91 x 53 mm
(5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
98 x 57 x 31 mm
(3.9 x 2.2 x 1.2 in)
|Camera Weight||435 g (15.3 oz)||180 g (6.3 oz)|
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