Click on the E-420 to take a QuickTime VR tour
The Olympus E-420 is the successor to the very popular E-410 from last year. Olympus designed this portable model for those who are ready to step up to the power and performance of a digital SLR, yet still expect the ease of use and ability to compose images on the LCD common to point-and-shoot cameras. Weighing a mere 380 grams (13.4 ounces), the E-420 is 20 to 40 percent lighter than competing dSLRs.
While considered an entry-level "lightweight", this 10-megapixel camera offers heavyweight technologies, including a larger 2.7-inch LCD with On-Screen Autofocus, Face Detection, Shadow Adjustment Technology and Perfect Shot Preview to get the most out of the Live View experience. At 2.7-inches, the LCD is large enough for users to compose and review images without squinting. This unit is not only small, but part several innovative technologies that further expand Live View's uses. These include:
Olympus offers two different lens combinations. The ultra-compact Zuiko 25mm f2.8 digital specific lens complements the E-420's small stature, for the ultimate combination of ease of use and portability. This 0.9-inch thick lens offers a fixed 50mm equivalent angle of view. you can also purchase the E-420 in a kit with a compact, Zuiko Digital 28-84mm equivalent (ED 14-42mm Four Thirds) f3.5-f5.6 lens that perfectly matches the imager so light strikes the sensor directly to ensure rich, accurate colors and edge-to-edge sharpness. Both lenses are part Olympus' expanding line of 100 percent digital lenses - designed specifically for digital photography.
The E-420 features the TruePic III Image Processor, which helps the camera produce crystal clear photos. It does this by using all the pixel information for each image to provide the best digital images possible with accurate color, true-to-life flesh tones, brilliant blue skies and precise tonal representation in between. TruePic III also lowers image noise by one step to reduce graininess in images shot at higher ISO settings, enabling great results in low-light situations. This image processor also enables the E-420 to shoot at up to 3.5 frames per second in sequenced shooting mode - perfect for capturing fast moving subjects.
As with past models, this new dSLR offers Olympus' proven Dust Reduction System that produces spot-free photos with the exclusive Supersonic Wave Filter. The patented ultrasonic technology vibrates to remove dust and other particles from the front of the image sensor and captures it on a special adhesive membrane every time the camera is turned on. These spot-free photos liberate users from hours spent retouching photographs at the computer or sending their cameras back to the manufacturer to remove dust trapped inside.
If you decide to venture into the arena of advanced lighting, the E-420 is ready to meet the challenge. The E-420 is compatible with the Olympus FL-50R and FL-36R wireless electronic flashes that are designed exclusively for digital photography. When these flashes are used in combination with the E-420, wireless multi-flash photography is possible. The E-420 can control up to three wireless flash groups independently, with several flash units per group.
Each kit ships with: E-420 Body, USB Cable, Video Cable, Li-Ion Battery Pack (BLS-1), Li-Ion Battery Charger (BCS-1), Shoulder Strap, OLYMPUS Master Software CD-ROM, Manuals and Warranty Card.
Body, Lenses & Imager
The E-420 is a very compact digital SLR made of a solid black polycarbonate with rubber inserts on the front and back of the grip that impart it with a secure feel when handled. Still, the E-420 remains light and easy to carry, especially when paired with the ultra compact Zuiko 25mm f2.8 lens. It also offers a professional finish. Measuring a mere 5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 inches (129.5 x 91 x 53mm) and weighing just 13.4 ounces (380 grams) body only, the E-420 can be carried around comfortably all day.
The all-metal lens mount for the Four Thirds System is twice the diagonal measurement of the imager. With this lens mount the body size, lens size and overall weight are reduced.
Digital Specific "Smart" Lenses
Olympus Zuiko Digital Lenses are designed so light strikes the camera's image sensor directly, ensuring rich, accurate colors, sharp contrasts and bright images even at the edges.
Lenses that are smart, that talk with the camera about their specific optical designs and imaging information. Lenses, particularly zoom lenses have some distortion. This is true of all manufacturers. Zuiko Digital Lenses store data in the header portion of the digital file allowing for software-assisted correction of anomalies including pin cushion and barrel distortion.
Shoot wide open or stopped all the way down and achieve superior results over 35mm film based lenses. Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses are about three times the resolution of ordinary film based lenses.
The Smart Lens Design allows users to shoot with the most current firmware versions of each particular E SLR System component. Update the camera system using:
Zuiko Digital 25mm, 14-42mm, and 40-150mm
The Zuiko Digital 25mm f2.8 is a thin, lightweight single-focus standard pancake-type lens. The lens has an overall length of 23.5 mm. When combined with E-410 or E-420, the total length including the camera body and lens is only 76.5 mm. The result is an easy-to-store, easy-to-carry camera system with go-anywhere portability. With a focal distance equivalent to 50 mm on a 35 mm film camera lens, this lens provides an image angle very close to that of the naked eye. The result is a near-natural visual field that makes this an ideal standard lens for daily use, whether for simple snapshots or for more sophisticated portrait and landscape shooting.
The Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 (equivalent to 28-90mm in 35mm photography) is another lens kit option for the E-420 and E-520 models. This 3x standard zoom lens is the smallest and lightest in its class and features a closest focusing distance of only 25cm. The ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and two aspherical lens elements correct aberrations without increasing lens dimensions. The circular aperture diaphragm enables beautiful defocusing - one of the big advantages of this lens.
Four-Thirds CCD Image Sensor
With 10 million pixels of resolution, you'll see more details and get stunning color in all your photos. Create really big prints (13 x 19 inches and larger), even after cropping. Compare the typical 1/1.8" CCD used in most 5- to 8-megapixel cameras (on the left), the 2/3" CCD used in the Olympus E-20n SLR (in the center) and the E-420's 4/3 System CCD imager (on the right) which has four times the spatial area of the 2/3" imager, its diagonal measurement is 22.3mm.
Exclusive SuperSonic Wave Filter
A common problem with interchangeable lens digital SLR cameras is dust settling on the image sensor. The E-420 features an Olympus exclusive patented ultrasonic technology, the SuperSonic Wave Filter, to reduce the effects of micro dust settling on the image sensor and impacting the image quality. Located between the shutter and the CCD, the Supersonic Wave Filter uses high-speed ultrasonic vibration to cause most types of dust to fall away from the image sensor so it will not appear in photographs.
The filter vibrates at 35,000 times per second and is activated every time the camera powers on, or manually via a menu selection, to instantly remove the dust from in front of the image sensor. The CCD assembly is isolated from the Supersonic Wave Filter by an airtight seal to protect it even more. This unique Olympus feature gives you the confidence to shoot photos and change lenses in the field, just as you've always done, without the worry of images being damaged or ruined by dust on the imager.
Features & Controls
Flash, I/O, Storage & Power
The E-420's auto/manual pop-up TTL-controlled flash has modes for Auto, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction slow sync., Fill-in, Slow synchronization (1st and 2nd curtain), Manual, Off. It offers a Guide Number of 12 (ISO 100.m) and the X-synch speed is 1/180 sec. or less with Super FP up to 1/4000 sec. The flash intensity (output) is controllable ±2 EV in 1/3 EV steps. Flash bracketing is not available.
The Olympus FL-20, FL-36, FL-50, FL-36R or FL-50R external flash units can be attached to the 's hot shoe and offer full TTL flash control. The E-420 also offers full wireless flash control with the FL-36R/FL-50R models, triggered and controlled by the built-in flash light. Wireless control offers 4 channels and 3 groups. For our testing, we used the FL-36 shown below.
Designed specifically for use with digital cameras, the FL-36 flash offers the robust and full-featured functionality of the larger FL-50 combined with cost effectiveness.
The FL-36 Electronic Flash is specifically designed for digital with an accurate 1/8 step illumination control to provide the precision required by digital cameras, while minimizing illumination reduction. The built-in wide-angle diffuser panel will allow the flash to provide even illumination with wide angle lenses like the new Zuiko Digital 14mm-45mm zoom. The inclusion of a lockable bounce and swivel mechanism offers a variety of bounce photography options including left-right, as well as top-bottom in addition to a compact zoom head to accommodate lenses from wide angle to telephoto.
The FL-36 also features an energy circuit that improves recharge rates and enables the flash to operate on just two AA batteries or one CR-3 Volt lithium. In addition, the FL-36 incorporates an ultra-precision mounting technology communicating with the E-1, E-300 and E-500 for control. The FL-36 is compact, lightweight and extremely portable, and is approximately 25% shorter and 35% lighter than the larger FL-50 flash, a significant space and weight savings.
The FL-36 Flash Compact achieves higher guide numbers than comparable SLR film cameras even while maintaining wide-angle light distribution. The Guide Number is 117 feet (36 meters) at ISO 100. You'll notice the difference when using it in combination with a wide-angle lens on the . Accurate, 1/8-step illumination control provides the precision required by digital cameras, while minimizing illumination reduction near the screen.
The FL 36 features the FP mode for syncro at shutter speeds up to 1/4000 sec. In both FP- TTL Auto and FP-Manual modes. Standard TTL-Auto, Auto and Manual flash modes are also available.
Images can be viewed on an external monitor via the Video Out port, the signal is selectable for NTSC or PAL format.
There is no external power or flash PC sync port.
The E-420 can be remotely operated with the optional RM-1 wireless infrared controller. The maximum effective range is approx. 16.4 feet indoors and 9.8 feet outdoors (in front, within 15° of center of the camera).
Images are stored on Compact Flash cards, Type I or II and Microdrives or xD-Picture Card media. See the graph below for file sizes and approx. storage capacities.
Approximate File Sizes
The E410 is powered by a BLS-1 Lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack that fits up inside of the hand grip. This is high capacity (7.4v, 1500 mAh) battery that is unique to the E-410 and E-420 models. The pack is charged in the included BCS-1 AC charger. Olympus claims this pack can power the E-420 for up to 500 shots using the optical viewfinder to frame.
Recording / Setup Options
Here you can see a screen taken while using Live View mode. It looks much like a consumer digicam with icons that indicate we are using Program AE mode, shutter speed (3) and aperture (F2.8), Imager AF mode (I-AF), Digital ESP metering, ISO 100, Large Fine quality, images are being saved to the CF card, and there's enough room on that card for 177 frames at the current configuration.
When AF locks, it will briefly show the intended area of focus (not shown), and a Green AF ready dot will appear in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
When you turn the Mode Dial to the SCENE position you will be shown a menu of the available scene presets. First you see a large sample image which then shrinks down to make room for the text explanation of the mode. There are 18 Scene modes available: Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Children, Sport, High Key, Low Key, Digital Image Stabilization, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Fireworks, Documents, Panorama (only available when using an Olympus xD-Picture Card), Beach & Snow.
Camera 1 menu options:
Camera 2 menu options:
Custom 1 menu options:
Custom 2 menu options: