Olympus E-420 vs E-500
The Olympus E-420 and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2008 and September 2005. 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-500 provides 8 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-500|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|no Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-1,600||ISO 100-400 (100 - 1,600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.7 LCD, 215k dots||2.5 LCD, 215k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.5 shutter flaps per second||2.5 shutter flaps per second|
|500 shots per battery charge||750 shots per battery charge|
|130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g||130 x 95 x 66 mm, 479 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-420 and the Olympus Evolt E-500? 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-500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. 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-500 is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Olympus E-420. Moreover, the E-500 is markedly heavier (9 percent) than the E-420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 nor the E-500 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|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-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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.
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.
In terms of chip-set technology, the E-420 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic III) than the E-500 (TruePic), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-420 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 8 MP of the E-500. This megapixels advantage translates into a 12 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-420 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.74μm versus 5.30μm for the E-500). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-420 is much more recent (by 2 years and 5 months) than the E-500, 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-420 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-420 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-500 are 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm for good quality, 13.1 x 9.8 inches or 33.2 x 24.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.9 x 8.2 inches or 27.6 x 20.7 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 Evolt E-500 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 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-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|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-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The E-420 and the E-500 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%), but the viewfinder of the E-420 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-500 (0.46x vs 0.45x), 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-500, and comparable cameras.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-420 and the E-500 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 Evolt E-500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
Both the E-420 and the E-500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-500 was replaced by the Olympus E-510, 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 how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-420 better than the Olympus E-500 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-420:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (10 vs 8MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic III vs TruePic).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.46x vs 0.45x).
- 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 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the E-500 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus Evolt E-500:
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2005).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-420 is the clear winner of the match-up (6 : 2 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 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-500 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-420 or the E-500. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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-420||85/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|Olympus E-500||76/100||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|Nikon D3000||+||72/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D60||80/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Olympus E-450||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||o||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|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-330||..||+||o||3.5/5||..||Jan 2006||999|
|Olympus E-400||85/100||..||4/5||..||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|Olympus E-300||..||+||o||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|Panasonic L10||85/100||+||3.5/5||o||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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 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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon G9 X vs Olympus E-420
- Canon T4i vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon 1 V2 vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon 1 V3 vs Olympus E-500
- Nikon A1000 vs Olympus E-500
- Nikon D7200 vs Olympus E-500
- Olympus E-420 vs Olympus E-M1
- Olympus E-420 vs Olympus E-P2
- Olympus E-500 vs Panasonic TZ90
- Olympus E-500 vs Pentax KP
- Olympus E-500 vs Sony A6000
- Olympus E-500 vs Sony NEX-7
Specifications: Olympus E-420 vs Olympus E-500
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-500|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2008||September 2005|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-500|
|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||8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||3264 x 2448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||5.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||3.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||TruePic|
|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-420||Olympus E-500|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-500|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|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-500|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-500|
|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)
130 x 95 x 66 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||479 g (16.9 oz)|
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