Olympus E-420 vs E-M10 II
The Olympus E-420 and the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2008 and August 2015. The E-420 is a DSLR, while the E-M10 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-420 has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the E-M10 II provides 15.9 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 OM-D E-M10 Mark II? 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-M10 II is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M10 II can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, brown), while the E-420 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 Olympus E-M10 II is notably smaller (16 percent) than the Olympus E-420. Moreover, the E-M10 II is markedly lighter (11 percent) than the E-420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 nor the E-M10 II 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-420) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M10 II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-M10 II, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|2.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|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-M10 III||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|7.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|8.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|9.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|12.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|13.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|14.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|15.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|16.||Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|17.||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.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-420 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the E-M10 II 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.
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. 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 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.
Technology-wise, the E-M10 II uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic VII) 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-M10 II offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the E-420. This megapixels advantage translates into a 26 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-M10 II has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420). However, it should be noted that the E-M10 II is much more recent (by 7 years and 5 months) than the E-420, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M10 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-M10 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-M10 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 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 OM-D E-M10 Mark II are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-M10 II offers substantially better image quality than the E-420 (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 2.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|9.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|11.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|12.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|13.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|14.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|15.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|16.||Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..|
|17.||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 E-M10 II indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-M10 II can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M10 II has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the E-420 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the E-M10 II 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-M10 II has a higher magnification (0.62x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-420 and Olympus E-M10 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-M10 II has a touchscreen, while the E-420 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the E-M10 II is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus E-M10 II 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-420 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the E-M10 II uses SDXC cards. The E-420 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-M10 II 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-420 and Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M10 II offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-420 does not provide wifi capability.
Both the E-420 and the E-M10 II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-M10 II was replaced by the Olympus E-M10 III, 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 what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-420 or the Olympus E-M10 II – 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.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-420:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 320) 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 March 2008).
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic VII vs TruePic III).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (0.62x vs 0.46x).
- 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 (1040k vs 215k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x83mm vs 130x91mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 50g or 11 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.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 5 months of technical progress since the E-420 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-M10 II is the clear winner of the contest (24 : 5 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-M10 II 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-420 and the E-M10 II 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 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-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|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-M10 III||..||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|7.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|8.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|9.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|12.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|13.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|14.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|15.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|16.||Olympus E-400||..||85/100||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|17.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||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. 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, 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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-420 vs Olympus E-M10 II
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-M10 II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2008||August 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 649|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-M10 II|
|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||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||TruePic VII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||23.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||527||842|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-M10 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-M10 II|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|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-420||Olympus E-M10 II|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-M10 II|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||320 shots per charge|
130 x 91 x 53 mm
(5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
120 x 83 x 47 mm
(4.7 x 3.3 x 1.9 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||390 g (13.8 oz)|
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