Olympus E-420 vs E-600
The Olympus E-420 and the Olympus E-600 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2008 and August 2009. 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-600 provides 12.2 MP.
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-420 and the Olympus E-600? 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-420 and the Olympus E-600 is provided 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 measures 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-600 is somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Olympus E-420. Moreover, the E-600 is markedly heavier (22 percent) than the E-420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 nor the E-600 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. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|2.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|3.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|4.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|5.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|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-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|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.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The E-600 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the E-420, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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-600 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic III+) 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-600 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-600 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-600 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the E-420, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-600 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-600 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-420 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-420 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-600 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|2.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||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-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..|
|12.||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 range of features. The E-420 and the E-600 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-600 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-420 (0.48x 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-600, and comparable cameras.
One feature that differentiates the E-600 and the E-420 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-600 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the E-420 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The E-600 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-600 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-600 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
Both the E-420 and the E-600 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? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-420 or the Olympus E-600 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-420:
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 95g or 18 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2008).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-600:
- 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 III+ vs TruePic III).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.48x vs 0.46x).
- 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 burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 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-600 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 2 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 before making a camera decision. 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-420 and the Olympus E-600 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-420 or the E-600 perform in practice. 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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-420||..||85/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|2.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|3.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|4.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|5.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|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-400||..||85/100||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|12.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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. 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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Olympus E-420 vs Olympus E-600
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-600|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2008||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 449|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-600|
|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||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||TruePic III+|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||21.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||527||541|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-600|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||2.7inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-600|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|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-420||Olympus E-600|
|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-600|
|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 94 x 60 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.4 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||535 g (18.9 oz)|
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