Olympus E-420 vs Sony RX10 III
The Olympus E-420 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2008 and March 2016. The E-420 is a DSLR, while the RX10 III is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-420) and an one-inch (RX10 III) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 20 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Olympus E-420||Sony RX10 III|
|Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Four Thirds lenses||24-600mm f/2.4-4.0|
|10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||20 MP, 1" Sensor|
|no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-1,600||ISO 100-12,800 (64 - 25,600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|2.7 LCD, 215k dots||3.0 LCD, 1229k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.5 shutter flaps per second||14 shutter flaps per second|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|500 shots per battery charge||420 shots per battery charge|
|130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g||133 x 94 x 127 mm, 1051 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-420 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III? 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 RX10 III 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 size dimensions 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 RX10 III is notably larger (6 percent) than the Olympus E-420. It is noteworthy in this context that the RX10 III is splash and dust-proof, while the E-420 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX10 III 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 RX10 III can take 420 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the RX10 III 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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|Sony RX10 III||133 mm||94 mm||127 mm||1051 g||420||Y||Mar 2016||1,499|
|Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|Sony RX10 IV||133 mm||94 mm||145 mm||1095 g||400||Y||Sep 2017||1,699|
|Sony RX10 II||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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. 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.
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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 RX10 III an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX10 III is 48 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 2.7. The sensor in the E-420 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the RX10 III offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the RX10 III offers a higher resolution of 20 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 2.41μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420). However, it should be noted that the RX10 III is much more recent (by 8 years) 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.
The resolution advantage of the Sony RX10 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX10 III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 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-RX10 III are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 64-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 RX10 III offers substantially better image quality than the E-420 (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 2.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|Sony RX10 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.1||12.6||472||70|
|Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|Sony RX10 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony RX10 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
|Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The RX10 III indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the RX10 III can use is 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the RX10 III has an electronic viewfinder (2359k 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 viewfinder in the RX10 III offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the E-420 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the RX10 III has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-420 and Sony RX10 III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Sony RX10 III||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||14.0||Y||Y|
|Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|Sony RX10 IV||2359||Y||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the RX10 III, but is missing on the E-420 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
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 RX10 III 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 E-420 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the RX10 III 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 RX10 III 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-RX10 III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony RX10 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon 7D II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Sony RX10 IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the RX10 III offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-420 does not provide wifi capability.
The RX10 III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. 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 Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-420 and the Sony RX10 III? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-420:
- 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.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 420) 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).
Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 44%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.2 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.46x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- 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 (1229k vs 215k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the E-420 requires a separate lens.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- 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.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More modern: Reflects 8 years of technical progress since the E-420 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the RX10 III is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 6 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 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 RX10 III 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-420 or the RX10 III perform in practice. 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 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.
|Olympus E-420||85/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|Sony RX10 III||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2016||1,499|
|Canon 7D II||+||84/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Nikon D3000||+||72/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D60||80/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Olympus E-450||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||o||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-520||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|Olympus E-410||86/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-400||85/100||..||4/5||..||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|Panasonic L10||85/100||+||3.5/5||o||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Sony RX10 IV||+||84/100||4.5/5||..||5/5||Sep 2017||1,699|
|Sony RX10 II||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|Sony RX100 IV||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|Sony RX10||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 1200D vs Olympus E-420
- Canon 1D C vs Sony RX10 III
- Canon 400D vs Sony RX10 III
- Canon 7D vs Olympus E-420
- Canon S120 vs Sony RX10 III
- Canon T1i vs Sony RX10 III
- Leica S Typ 007 vs Sony RX10 III
- Nikon D3300 vs Sony RX10 III
- Nikon P1000 vs Sony RX10 III
- Olympus E-1 vs Sony RX10 III
- Olympus E-420 vs Sony HX80
- Panasonic FZ1000 vs Sony RX10 III
Specifications: Olympus E-420 vs Sony RX10 III
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 RX10 III|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||24-600mm f/2.4-4.0|
|Launch Date||March 2008||March 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 1,499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony RX10 III|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||64 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||70|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||23.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||12.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||527||472|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony RX10 III|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony RX10 III|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||14 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony RX10 III|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-420||Sony RX10 III|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|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)
133 x 94 x 127 mm
(5.2 x 3.7 x 5.0 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||1051 g (37.1 oz)|
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