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Olympus E-420 vs Ricoh GR

The Olympus E-420 and the Ricoh GR are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2008 and April 2013. The E-420 is a DSLR, while the GR is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-420) and an APS-C (GR) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Ricoh provides 16.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-420
versus
Ricoh GR
Olympus E-420   Ricoh GR
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Four Thirds lenses 28mm f/2.8
10 MP – Four Thirds sensor 16.1 MP – APS-C sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-25,600
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.7" LCD – 215k dots 2.7" LCD – 1230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.5 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
500 shots per battery charge290 shots per battery charge
130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g 117 x 61 x 35 mm, 245 g
Olympus E-420:
Check Ebay offers
Ricoh GR:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-420 and the Ricoh GR? 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.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-420 and the Ricoh GR 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Olympus E-420 vs Ricoh GR
Compare E-420 versus GR top
Comparison E-420 or GR rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Ricoh GR is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Olympus E-420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 nor the GR are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the GR has a lens built in, whereas the E-420 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-420 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the E-420 gets 500 shots out of its BLS-1 battery, while the GR can take 290 images on a single charge of its DB65 power pack. The power pack in the GR can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
2.
 
Ricoh GR 117 mm 61 mm 35 mm 245 g 290 n Apr 2013 799i
3.
 
Nikon Coolpix A 111 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 230 n Mar 2013 1,099i
4.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
5.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629i
6.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
7.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499i
8.
 
Olympus E-600 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449i
9.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
10.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
11.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
12.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699i
13.
 
Panasonic GM1 99 mm 55 mm 30 mm 204 g 230 n Oct 2013 749i
14.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
15.
 
Ricoh GR II 117 mm 63 mm 35 mm 251 g 320 n Jun 2015 699 i
16.
 
Sony NEX-5T 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2013 699i
17.
 
Sony NEX-5R 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2012 749i
Note: 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 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. 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.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-420 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Ricoh GR an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the GR is 64 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-420 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the GR offers a 3:2 aspect.

Olympus E-420 and Ricoh GR sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the GR offers a higher resolution than the E-420 (10MP), but the GR nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.79μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the GR is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 1 month) than the E-420, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GR has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Ricoh GR implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GR for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 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 Ricoh GR are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

E-420 versus GR MP

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 GR offers substantially better image quality than the E-420 (overall score 22 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.1 bits higher color depth, 3.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 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.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
2.
 
Ricoh GR APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278
3.
 
Nikon Coolpix A APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.413.8116480
4.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
5.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
6.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
7.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
8.
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
9.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
10.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
11.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
12.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.010.612753
13.
 
Panasonic GM1 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066
14.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
15.
 
Ricoh GR II APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880
16.
 
Sony NEX-5T APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60p23.613.0101578
17.
 
Sony NEX-5R APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The GR indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the GR can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the E-420 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GR relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GR can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the GV-1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-420, the Ricoh GR, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Olympus E-420optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
2.
 
Ricoh GRoptional n3.0 / 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
3.
 
Nikon Coolpix Aoptional n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/2000s 4.0/s Y n
4.
 
Nikon D3000optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
5.
 
Nikon D60optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
6.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
7.
 
Olympus E-450optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
8.
 
Olympus E-600optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
9.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
10.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y Y
11.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-400optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Panasonic GM1none n3.0 / 1036 fixed Y 1/500s 5.0/s Y n
14.
 
Panasonic L10optical n2.5 / 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
15.
 
Ricoh GR IIoptional n3.0 / 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
16.
 
Sony NEX-5Toptional n3.0 / 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0/s n n
17.
 
Sony NEX-5Roptional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0/s n n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The Ricoh GR 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 GR uses SDXC cards. The E-420 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the GR only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison

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 Ricoh GR and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Olympus E-420Y- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Ricoh GRYmono / mono--micro2.0---
3.
 
Nikon Coolpix AYstereo / mono---2.0---
4.
 
Nikon D3000Y- / ----2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D60Y- / ----2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D40XY- / ----2.0---
7.
 
Olympus E-450Y- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-600Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-410Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-400Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic GM1-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
14.
 
Panasonic L10Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Ricoh GR IIYstereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Sony NEX-5TYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
17.
 
Sony NEX-5RYstereo / mono--mini2.0Y--

Both the E-420 and the GR have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GR was replaced by the Ricoh GR II, 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 and Ricoh websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-420 or the Ricoh GR – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer 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.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 290) 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).

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Arguments in favor of the Ricoh GR:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (16.1 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 30%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (22 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.1 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p 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 (1230k vs 215k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the E-420 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (117x61mm vs 130x91mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the E-420).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 1 month of technical progress since the E-420 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GR is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 6 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 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.

E-420 06:16 GR

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-420 and the Ricoh GR place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-420 and the GR in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
2.
 
Ricoh GR5/5....79/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799i
3.
 
Nikon Coolpix A4/5+..75/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 1,099i
4.
 
Nikon D3000..+..72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
5.
 
Nikon D60..80/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
6.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100..+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
7.
 
Olympus E-450........4/54/5 Mar 2009 499i
8.
 
Olympus E-600..........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449i
9.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
10.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
11.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
12.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100....4/54/5 Sep 2006 699i
13.
 
Panasonic GM13/5+..78/1005/54.5/5 Oct 2013 749i
14.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100..+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
15.
 
Ricoh GR II........4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699 i
16.
 
Sony NEX-5T........4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 699i
17.
 
Sony NEX-5R........4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2012 749i
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.

Olympus E-420:
Check Ebay offers
Ricoh GR:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-420 vs Ricoh GR

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Olympus E-420 Ricoh GR
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses 28mm f/2.8
    Launch Date March 2008 April 2013
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-420 Ricoh GR
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.74 μm 4.79 μm
    Pixel Density 4.44 MP/cm2 4.35 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 56 78
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.5 23.6
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.4 13.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 527 972
    Screen Specs Olympus E-420 Ricoh GR
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.46x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 215k dots 1230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-420 Ricoh GR
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.5 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer 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 Ricoh GR
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-420 Ricoh GR
    Battery Type BLS-1 DB65
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge290 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 130 x 91 x 53 mm
    (5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
    117 x 61 x 35 mm
    (4.6 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 440 g (15.5 oz) 245 g (8.6 oz)
    Olympus E-420:
    Check Ebay offers
    Ricoh GR:
    Check Ebay offers

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