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Olympus E-420 versus Olympus E-400

The Olympus E-420 and the Olympus E-400 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2008 and September 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 10 megapixel.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-420 and the Olympus E-400 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the E-420 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Olympus E-420 vs Olympus E-400 front
E-420 versus E-400 top view
E-420 and E-400 rear side
Body view (E-420 on the left)

In this particular case, the Olympus E-420 and the Olympus E-400 have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the E-400 is slightly lighter (1 percent) than the E-420. Cameras that are aimed at professionals or semi-pros tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary environmental and shock resistance. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 nor the E-400 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 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
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Olympus E-420 (⇒ rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 no 2008 599discont. check
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 no 2006 699discont. check
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 no 2009 699discont. check
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 no 2009 499discont. check
Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.9 oz 500 no 2009 449discont. check
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 no 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 no 2008 1,299discont. check
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 no 2007 699discont. check
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 no 2007 799discont. check
Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 no 2005 599discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 no 2007 599discont. 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 somewhat lower price (by 14 percent) than the E-400, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

Sensor comparison

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.

Olympus E-420 and Olympus E-400 sensor measures
Sensor size

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-420 and the E-400 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.

E-420 versus E-400 MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-420 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.5 10.4 527 56
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no - - - -
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-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448 no - - - -
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.3 10.8 429 55
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 variety of features. The E-420 and the E-400 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-420 and Olympus E-400 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.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Olympus E-420 (⇒ rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 no
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 3.0 10 no
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-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 2.5 13 no
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 swivel no 4000 3.0 11 no

Both the E-420 and the E-400 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.

Summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus E-420 better than the Olympus E-400 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 5 months after the E-400).

Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-400:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2008).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-420 emerges as the winner of the contest (3 : 1 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.

E-420 03:01 E-400

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-420 or the E-400. 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Olympus E-420 (⇒ rgt) 85/100 HiRec 4/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2008 599discont. check
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft) 85/100 - 4/5 - 4/5 2006 699discont. check
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 72/100 HiRec 4.5/5 reviewed 5/5 2009 699discont. check
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4/5 2009 499discont. check
Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - 4.5/5 2009 449discont. check
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 HiRec 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 71/100 HiRec 4.5/5 - 4/5 2008 1,299discont. check
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) 86/100 HiRec 4/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 699discont. check
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) 89/100 HiRec 3.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 799discont. check
Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 76/100 HiRec - - - 2005 599discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec 3.5/5 reviewed 4/5 2007 599discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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.

Other comparisons

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 cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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