Olympus E-420 vs Sony A5000
The Olympus E-420 and the Sony Alpha A5000 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2008 and January 2014. The E-420 is a DSLR, while the A5000 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-420) and an APS-C (A5000) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 19.8 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 Sony Alpha A5000? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-420 and the Sony A5000 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The A5000 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 Sony A5000 is considerably smaller (41 percent) than the Olympus E-420. Moreover, the A5000 is substantially lighter (39 percent) than the E-420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 nor the A5000 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-420) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A5000). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A5000, 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.
Concerning battery life, the E-420 gets 500 shots out of its BLS-1 battery, while the A5000 can take 420 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A5000 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. 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||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A5000||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||269 g||420||n||Jan 2014||449||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 A5000 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. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-420 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A5000 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A5000 is 59 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 A5000 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 19.8MP, the A5000 offers a higher resolution than the E-420 (10MP), but the A5000 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.25μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420). Yet, the A5000 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 10 months) than the E-420, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A5000 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A5000 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.3 x 18.2 inches or 69.3 x 46.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.8 x 14.5 inches or 55.4 x 36.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.1 inches or 46.2 x 30.8 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 Sony Alpha A5000 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 A5000 offers substantially better image quality than the E-420 (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 2.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|8.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|9.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|10.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|11.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|12.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|13.||Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|14.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The A5000 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the A5000 can use is 1080/60i.
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 A5000 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 Sony A5000 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A5000||none||n||3.0 / 461||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon M10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.6/s||Y||n|
|4.||Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|9.||Olympus E-600||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-620||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0 / 1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A5100||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The E-420 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the A5000 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The E-420 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A5000 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 Sony Alpha A5000 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-420||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A5000||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon M10||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Nikon D3300||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-450||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-600||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-620||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-520||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-410||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-400||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A5100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the E-420 has a hotshoe, while the A5000 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the E-420 and the A5000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The A5000 was replaced by the Sony A5100, while the E-420 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the E-420 and A5000 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-420 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony A5000 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus E-420 better than the Sony A5000 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Olympus E-420:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 420) 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).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A5000:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (19.8 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 44%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i 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 (461k vs 215k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm 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.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- 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.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 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 A5000 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 5 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 Sony A5000 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-420 or the A5000 perform in practice. 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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], 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.
|1.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A5000||3/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||..||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-400||..||85/100||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499||ebay.com|
|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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 500D vs Olympus E-420
- Canon RP vs Sony A5000
- Leica D-LUX Typ 109 vs Sony A5000
- Nikon D5300 vs Sony A5000
- Nikon Z6 II vs Sony A5000
- Olympus E-420 vs Olympus E-PL2
- Olympus E-420 vs Pentax MX-1
- Olympus E-420 vs Sony HX95
- Olympus E-420 vs Sony RX100 VI
- Olympus E-420 vs Zeiss ZX1
- Panasonic GM5 vs Sony A5000
- Pentax K-5 vs Sony A5000
Specifications: Olympus E-420 vs Sony A5000
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||Sony A5000|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2008||January 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 449|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony A5000|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.2 x 15.4 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||357.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||27.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||19.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||5456 x 3632 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||4.25 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||5.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||13.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||527||1089|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony A5000|
|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||461k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony A5000|
|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||3.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony A5000|
|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|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony A5000|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||420 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
130 x 91 x 53 mm
(5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
110 x 63 x 36 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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