Olympus E-420 vs E-P2
The Olympus E-420 and the Olympus PEN E-P2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2008 and November 2009. The E-420 is a DSLR, while the E-P2 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-P2 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-P2|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Four Thirds lenses||Micro 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||Viewfinder optional|
|2.7" LCD, 215k dots||3.0" LCD, 230k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.5 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|500 shots per battery charge||300 shots per battery charge|
|130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g||121 x 70 x 36 mm, 355 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-420 and the Olympus PEN E-P2? 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-P2 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.
The E-P2 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), 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-P2 is notably smaller (28 percent) than the Olympus E-420. Moreover, the E-P2 is markedly lighter (19 percent) than the E-420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 nor the E-P2 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-P2). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-P2, 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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-420|
|Olympus E-P2«||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799||Olympus E-P2|
|Nikon D3000« »||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D60« »||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D40X« »||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus E-P3« »||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-450« »||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600« »||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620« »||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-P1« »||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-520« »||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410« »||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-400« »||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699||Olympus E-400|
|Panasonic L10« »||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||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 somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the E-P2, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 more expensive and 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-P2 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-P2 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-P2 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-P2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 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-P2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-P2 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 PEN E-P2 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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 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.
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56||Olympus E-P2|
|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-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54||Olympus E-PL1|
|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-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-400|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55||Panasonic L10|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-P2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P2 can use is 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-420 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-P2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-420 and Olympus E-P2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P2|
|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-P3||optional||n||3.0||614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL1|
|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-P1||none||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||Y||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-400|
|Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5||207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic L10|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-420 has one, while the E-P2 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-420 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The E-420 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the E-P2 uses SDHC cards. The E-420 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-P2 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 PEN E-P2 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-P2||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P2|
|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-P3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|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-P1||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-520||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-400||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-400|
|Panasonic L10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L10|
Both the E-420 and the E-P2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P2 was replaced by the Olympus E-P3, 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 there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-420 and the Olympus E-P2? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-420:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2008).
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-P2:
- 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.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More compact: Is smaller (121x70mm vs 130x91mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 85g or 19 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.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 8 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-P2 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 7 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-P2 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-420 or the E-P2 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.
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. 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. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1D Mark II N vs Olympus E-P2
- Canon 1Ds vs Olympus E-P2
- Canon 6D Mark II vs Olympus E-P2
- Canon D60 vs Olympus E-420
- Canon G1 X vs Olympus E-420
- Leica M10-P vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon D3200 vs Olympus E-P2
- Nikon D3400 vs Olympus E-420
- Nikon D5500 vs Olympus E-P2
- Nikon D600 vs Olympus E-P2
- Olympus E-P2 vs Panasonic S1H
- Olympus E-P2 vs Sony A7R III
Specifications: Olympus E-420 vs Olympus E-P2
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-P2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2008||November 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-P2|
|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||21.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||527||505|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-P2|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-P2|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-420||Olympus E-P2|
|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-P2|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
130 x 91 x 53 mm
(5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
121 x 70 x 36 mm
(4.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||355 g (12.5 oz)|
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