Olympus E-5 versus Olympus E-420
The Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-420 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and March 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-5 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the E-420 provides 10 MP.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-420 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the E-5 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-420 is notably smaller (29 percent) than the Olympus E-5. Moreover, the E-420 is substantially lighter (50 percent) than the E-5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-5 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-420 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ rgt)||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||YES||2010||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||no||2008||599||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||no||2011||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||no||2009||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||no||2009||499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||no||2009||449||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||no||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||no||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||no||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||YES||2007||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||no||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||YES||2003||1,699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||no||2007||599||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-420 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the E-5, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 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 are more costly to manufacture and tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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 E-5 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 10 MP of the E-420. This megapixel advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-5 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-5 is much more recent (by 2 years and 6 months) than the E-420, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|Olympus E-P3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||no||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-5 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-5 can use is 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-5 and the E-420 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-5 and Olympus E-420 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||no|
|Olympus E-P3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||614||fixed||YES||4000||3.0||10||YES|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||swivel||no||4000||4.0||12||YES|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||no|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||swivel||no||4000||4.0||12||YES|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||YES|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.7||230||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||10||no|
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||10||no|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||1.8||134||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||207||swivel||no||4000||3.0||11||no|
Both the E-5 and the E-420 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.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-5? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/30p movies.
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control 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 (920k vs 215k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 500) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the E-420 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus E-420:
- More compact: Is smaller (130x91mm vs 142x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 433g or 50 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in March 2008).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-5 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 4 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-5 or the E-420 handle or 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 rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ rgt)||-||75/100||4/5||-||4.5/5||2010||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft)||85/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2008||599||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||83/100||74/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2011||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||83/100 Rec||69/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||83/100 Rec||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100||72/100 HiRec||4.5/5||reviewed||5/5||2009||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||4/5||2009||499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||4.5/5||2009||449||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||87/100||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||71/100 HiRec||4.5/5||-||4/5||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||4/5||2007||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||-||4/5||-||4/5||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||Rec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2003||1,699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||Rec||3.5/5||reviewed||4/5||2007||599||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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