Olympus E-420 Review

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Olympus E-420 Digital camera
The Olympus E-420 is currently the world’s smallest digital SLR. Offering professional performance and features in a compact, lightweight body, the 10-megapixel E-420 includes Live View, a 2.7-inch LCD and Face Detection. It can capture both RAW and JPEG file formats.

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Olympus E-420 Studio Test Images
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Olympus E-420 Sample Photo - Garnet Hotel


  • DSLR performance in a remarkably small, lightweight body.
  • 10-megapixel sensor provides excellent image quality.
  • Ability to shoot in RAW format.
  • 2.7-inch Live View LCD with auto focus.
  • Face Detection technology
  • Dust-reduction system.
  • Built-in pop-up flash.

  • No mechanical Image Stabilization.
  • Bigger than a point-and-shoot.
  • Battery charger requires long cord.
Olympus E-420 - front and back

The Olympus E-420 is my first digital SLR experience. Photo-John gave it to me to review because he thought it would provide an interesting perspective for first-time DSLR buyers considering this camera. Previously, I’ve used film SLRs, compact digital cameras and digital point-and-shoots. The E-420 kit I had for review included the Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (28-84mm equivalent) and sells for $600. The body alone retails for $500 and the camera is also available in a second kit with a super-compact 25mm “pancake” lens (50mm equivalent) for $700.

I used the E-420 to shoot landscapes around my home in western Montana, as well as on excursions to the nearby Garnet ghost town and Miracle of America Museum. The E-420′s size and weight compared favorably with the compact digital cameras I’ve used, while offering more features, faster performance and superior image quality.

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  • Pingback: Olympus E-420 Digital SLR Preview

  • A.M.D.A. says:

    Great pro review, like most of them are.

    The E-420 does feel good in the hand for me too, I tried it out at a photo store. However, the lack of in-body image stabilization and no Olympus lenses available with a stabilizer prevents me from running out and buying this camera.

    Other than this, it seems to be feature-packed and high-quality. Live view in such a tiny D-SLR would also be sure to come in handy.

  • Patia says:

    Thank you very much for the kind words and sharing your thoughts. I confess I’m sad to have to send this camera back!

  • nafim says:

    I had the e420 with twin kits lens and its much way better then my FZ7 Lumix… The cheapest level entry DSLR in Malaysia compared to Canon/Nikon. (with the twin kits lens). As a DSLR beginners its pretty worthwhile. Throw in the pancakes 25mm + FL36.. I save a lot just to fulfill my hobby :) Cheers…

  • A.M.D.A. says:

    Very interesting comment nafim!!!

    I also own an FZ7K.

  • Photo-John says:

    nafim and A.M.D.A. -
    Bigger pixels are always better! The E-420 will be faster and have much better image quality than the Panasonic FZ7 or any other compact digital camera. What it’s missing is the long zoom and image stabilization. For those you’ll need an Olympus E-520 and the Olympus Zuiko 18-200mm or 70-300mm lens. That combination will stomp the FZ7 in every possible way.

  • A.M.D.A. says:

    John -

    Of course I know that any DSLR will provide better image quality and features than compact digital cameras.

    What I meant is that it was interesting to read someone else’s opinion comparing the E-420 with the FZ7. As you know, the menu layouts/buttons as well as the Oly’s design and feel are quite different than the Lumix.

    Right now I can’t afford to buy a DSLR, but it sure is interesting to read other people’s opinions, since eventually I will have to make an upgrade. Thanks for the suggestion on the E-520, that looks like a better option, since it has a built-in stabilizer.

  • jarnan says:

    Thanks for great reviews! I am int process to make may final choice, the e-420 or the e-520. My major concer is: what practical impact has the absence of a stabilizer of lences or body to my work. In which situations will I feel I should hae given priority over whiegt and size over IS-functions? Very few, if any, give answers to this issue.

  • brabus says:

    soy una vara caliente y ya tengo una de estas…

  • Steph says:

    do nto buy the 18-180 olympus lens john. its slow and very soft. I was disappointed and took it back. :(

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for your comment, Steph. I’ve had the opportunity to use the Olympus 18-180mm lens and I agree that it’s not one of Olympus’ better lenses. For some people it might be a good option, though. Please post a review for the lens, since you’ve used it. We need more Olympus camera and lens reviews. Here’s a link to the Olympus 18-180mm lens user review page:

    Olympus Zuiko Digital 18-180mm Lens User Reviews >>

    Personally, I’d rather carry a couple of lenses and know I’m going to have better quality. Usually, I carry the 12-60mm and the 70-300mm. That offers very good quality and a huge range.

  • Pingback: Olympus EVOLT E-420 DSLR Review : DigiCamReview.com

  • Espana says:

    I’ve loved my Evolt Camera and its lenses — but I’ve wished that I didn’t have carry my two Olympus lenses with me when I was going to be taking images at both shorter and longer focal lengths. Having received the Olympus Zuiko 18mm-180mm ultra zoom lens (which is the equivalent of 35mm-350mm) as a present this Christmas, I no longer have to. This lightweight all-digital lens, made especially for the Olympus four thirds system, receives very sharp, very colorful, distortion-free images. Its weight is a little heavier than either of the two separate lenses that came with the camera and it’s not quite as fast a lens.

  • Jon says:

    I bought this camera on Craigslist for my daughter’s birthday, it seemed to work ok but was slow so I got her a good memory card. Then shortly afterwards it started acting up. Taking B&W pictures, running VERY slow, now it hardly works at all. I tried to update the firmware but it says it has the latest. She is very upset and doesn’t want use to spend any more money on it, would it be worth sending in or did this model have some kind of problem that would not make it worth repairing? Cosmetically it looks new.

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