Olympus E-420 vs Sony H400
The Olympus E-420 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2008 and February 2014. The E-420 is a DSLR, while the H400 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-420) and a 1/2.3-inch (H400) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 19.9 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400? 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 H400 are illustrated 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony H400 is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Olympus E-420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 nor the H400 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the H400 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.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony H400||130 mm||95 mm||122 mm||628 g||300||n||Feb 2014||319||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349||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 HX400V||130 mm||93 mm||103 mm||660 g||300||n||Feb 2014||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony H300||128 mm||89 mm||92 mm||590 g||350||n||Feb 2014||219||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony H200||123 mm||83 mm||87 mm||530 g||240||n||Jan 2013||249||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 H400 was launched at a lower price than the E-420, despite having a lens built in. 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-420 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony H400 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the H400 is 88 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 5.6. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the H400 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the E-420. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.19μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420). However, it should be noted that the H400 is much more recent (by 5 years and 11 months) than the E-420, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the H400 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony H400 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the H400 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.8 x 19.3 inches or 65.4 x 49.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.6 x 15.5 inches or 52.3 x 39.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.2 x 12.9 inches or 43.6 x 32.7 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 Cyber-shot DSC-H400 are ISO 80 to ISO 3200 (no boost).
In terms of underlying technology, the E-420 is build around a CMOS sensor, while the H400 uses a CCD imager. 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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|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|
|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 H400 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the H400 can use is 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the H400 has an electronic viewfinder (210k 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-420, the Sony H400, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony H400||210||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/2000s||0.7/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon SX410||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon SX710||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|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 HX400V||210||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony H300||none||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/1500s||0.8/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony H200||none||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/1500s||0.8/s||Y||Y|
|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 H400 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 H400 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 Cyber-shot DSC-H400 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 H400||-||mono / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon SX410||-||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon SX710||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|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 HX400V||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony H300||-||mono / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Sony H200||-||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the E-420 has a hotshoe, while the H400 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the E-420 and the H400 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Olympus and Sony. Further information on the features and operation of the E-420 and H400 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-420 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony H400 Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-420 better than the Sony H400 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-420:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 0.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 300) 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).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (19.9 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 41%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (460k vs 215k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the E-420 requires a separate lens.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 11 months of technical progress since the E-420 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-420 emerges as the winner of the contest (13 : 11 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-420 and the Sony H400 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Superzoom 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 H400 in practical situations. 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 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 H400||..||o||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2014||319||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349||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 HX400V||4/5||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony H300||..||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2014||219||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony H200||..||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2013||249||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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
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Specifications: Olympus E-420 vs Sony H400
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 H400|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||24.5-1550mm f/3.4-6.5|
|Launch Date||March 2008||February 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 319|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony H400|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||19.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||5152 x 3864 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||1.19 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||70.91 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||527||..|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony H400|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||210k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony H400|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||0.7 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 H400|
|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||Sony H400|
|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)
130 x 95 x 122 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 4.8 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||628 g (22.2 oz)|
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