Olympus E-420 vs E-5
The Olympus E-420 and the Olympus E-5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2008 and September 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-420 has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the E-5 provides 12.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Olympus E-420||Olympus E-5|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|no Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO 100-1600||ISO 100-6400|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.7" LCD, 215k dots||3.0" LCD, 920k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.5 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|500 shots per battery charge||750 shots per battery charge|
|130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g||142 x 117 x 75 mm, 873 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-420 and the Olympus E-5? 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 physical size and weight of the Olympus E-420 and the Olympus E-5 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth 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-5 is notably larger (40 percent) than the Olympus E-420. Moreover, the E-5 is substantially heavier (98 percent) than the E-420. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-5 is splash and dust-proof, while the E-420 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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-420»||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2008||599||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-5«||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.8 oz||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699||Olympus E-5|
|Nikon D3000« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D60« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||629||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D40X« »||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus E-450« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2009||499||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Aug 2009||449||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2009||699||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-30« »||5.6 in||4.3 in||3.0 in||24.7 oz||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299||Olympus E-30|
|Olympus E-520« »||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||18.9 oz||750||n||May 2008||699||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-3« »||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.9 oz||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-410« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Mar 2007||699||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||19.0 oz||750||n||Mar 2007||799||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-400« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Sep 2006||699||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-1« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||26.0 oz||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699||Olympus E-1|
|Panasonic L10« »||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599||Panasonic L10|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the E-5, 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. 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. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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-5 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic V+) 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-5 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-5 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). However, it should be noted that the E-5 is much more recent (by 2 years and 6 months) than the E-420, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inch or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inch or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inch or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-420 are 18.2 x 13.7 inch or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inch or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inch or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus E-420 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-5 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56||Olympus E-5|
|Nikon D3000||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.3||11.1||563||62||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D60||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.5||11.4||562||65||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D40X||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.4||11.4||516||63||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55||Olympus E-30|
|Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-1|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55||Panasonic L10|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-5 can use is 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-420 and the E-5 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-5 offers a wider field of view (100%) 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-5 has a higher magnification (0.575x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-420, the Olympus E-5, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-5||optical||Y||3.0||920||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-5|
|Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600||optical||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620||optical||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-30||optical||Y||2.7||230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-30|
|Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||Y||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-3||optical||Y||2.5||230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-1||optical||Y||1.8||134||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n||Olympus E-1|
|Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5||207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic L10|
One feature that differentiates the E-5 and the E-420 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the E-420 has to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.The E-5 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the E-420 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-420 and the E-5 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-420 and Olympus E-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus E-420||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-5||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-5|
|Nikon D3000||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D60||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D40X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus E-450||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-30||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-30|
|Olympus E-520||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-3||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-410||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-400||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-1||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-1|
|Panasonic L10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L10|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-5 (unlike the E-420) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-420 and the E-5 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 two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.
So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-420 better than the Olympus E-5 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-420:
- More compact: Is smaller (130x91mm vs 142x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 433g or 50 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2008).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic V+ vs TruePic III).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.575x vs 0.46x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 215k dots).
- 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: Gets more shots (750 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the E-420 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-5 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 4 points). 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-420 and the Olympus E-5 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 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-420 and the E-5 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 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.
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 760D vs Olympus E-420
- Canon 7D II vs Olympus E-420
- Canon G5 X vs Olympus E-420
- Canon M vs Olympus E-5
- Canon T7 vs Olympus E-420
- Canon XSi vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon W150 vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon Z6 vs Olympus E-5
- Olympus E-400 vs Olympus E-420
- Olympus E-420 vs Sony A5000
- Olympus E-420 vs Sony A7R
- Olympus E-420 vs Sony RX100 VII
Specifications: Olympus E-420 vs Olympus E-5
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-420||Olympus E-5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2008||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 1699|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-5|
|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||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-1600 ISO||100-6400 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||TruePic V+|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||21.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||10.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||527||519|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-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-420||Olympus E-5|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-5|
|Environmental Sealing||Not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
130 x 91 x 53 mm
(5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
142 x 117 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||873 g (30.8 oz)|
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