Olympus E-420 vs Panasonic GX850
The Olympus E-420 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 (labelled Panasonic GX800 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2008 and January 2017. The E-420 is a DSLR, while the GX850 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850? 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 Panasonic GX850 is provided 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GX850 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, red), 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 Panasonic GX850 is considerably smaller (41 percent) than the Olympus E-420. Moreover, the GX850 is substantially lighter (39 percent) than the E-420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 nor the GX850 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 (GX850). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GX850, 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.||Panasonic GX850||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||269 g||210||n||Jan 2017||549|
|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-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|8.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|9.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|10.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|11.||Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|12.||Panasonic GF7||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||266 g||230||n||Jan 2015||499|
|13.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|14.||Panasonic G5||120 mm||83 mm||71 mm||396 g||320||n||Jul 2012||599|
|15.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|16.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||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 obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GX850 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the E-420 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. 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. 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 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the GX850 offers a higher resolution of 15.8 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 GX850 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.77μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420). However, it should be noted that the GX850 is much more recent (by 8 years and 10 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 GX850 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic GX850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GX850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.2 inches or 58.3 x 43.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.7 x 35 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 11.5 inches or 38.9 x 29.2 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 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 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the GX850 offers substantially better image quality than the E-420 (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 2.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 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.||Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73|
|6.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|7.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|8.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|9.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|10.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|11.||Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|14.||Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|16.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|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 GX850 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the GX850 can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from 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 GX850 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-420 and Panasonic GX850 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GX850 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 GX850 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.
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 GX850 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 Panasonic GX850 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 GX850 uses SDXC cards. The E-420 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the GX850 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the E-420 has a hotshoe, while the GX850 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The GX850 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the E-420 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the E-420 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 and Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-420 better than the Panasonic GX850 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:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/500s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 210) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.8 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 (1.7 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.9 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 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 (107x65mm vs 130x91mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 171g or 39 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- 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 8 years and 10 months of technical progress since the E-420 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GX850 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 7 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 Panasonic GX850 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-420 or the GX850. 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 (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.||Panasonic GX850||..||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||549|
|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-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|8.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|9.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|10.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|11.||Olympus E-400||..||85/100||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|12.||Panasonic GF7||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||499|
|13.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|14.||Panasonic G5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|15.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|16.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|17.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||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 assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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.
Specifications: Olympus E-420 vs Panasonic GX850
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||Panasonic GX850|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2008||January 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||Panasonic GX850|
|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||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||7.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||23.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||527||586|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-420||Panasonic GX850|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|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||Panasonic GX850|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/500s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-420||Panasonic GX850|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|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||Panasonic GX850|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||210 shots per charge|
130 x 91 x 53 mm
(5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
107 x 65 x 33 mm
(4.2 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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