This tiny SLR is a solid performer
- Small build, great colour balance, excellent noise performance, speedy burst mode
- Pictures a little soft at default settings, no image stabilisation, menu can be a little clunky, small design may not suit everyone
If you're after a petite SLR then the Olympus E-420 is a solid performer. It keeps pace with the competition in most areas, while maintaining dimensions that are significantly smaller.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
The E-420 is a small camera at the bottom of Olympus' SLR line-up. Despite the camera's diminutive design, not much has been sacrificed in the way of features. We were disappointed by the lack of image stabilisation, but live view is present as is Olympus' dust reduction technology. The 10-megapixel (Mp) sensor captures some fairly good quality snaps, making this unit a competitive choice for those looking to take their first steps into SLR territory.
Measuring 129.5x91x53mm and weighing just 380g, the E-420 is definitely a petite SLR. While it is slightly outdone in the size department by its predecessor the E-410, it still provides the best current option for users looking for a somewhat pocketable SLR.
The 10Mp sensor doesn't quite match up to competing entry-level units when it comes to resolution. That said, it still performed well in our tests and will be fine for most enthusiastic amateurs.
Pictures were quite sharp on the default settings, with fairly good resolution and detail, although they did have a slightly soft tone. This was easily remedied by increasing the onboard sharpness, which resulted in a more pleasing balance. We used a 14-42mm Olympus lens and spotted some minor chromatic aberration during our testing — some slight haloing on high contrast edges in our indoor chart shots. Some minor purple fringing could be seen outdoors, but again it wasn't problematic.
Noise performance was quite impressive. ISO sensitivities only extend up to ISO 1600, but at all levels shots are usable for small and medium prints. It isn't until ISO 800 that noise really becomes visible at all; even at ISO 1600 it is well controlled and there is no noticeable detail loss.
Colour performance was equally solid. We tested mainly using the Vivid preset, which produced a fairly well-balanced look that tended towards being strongly saturated. Reds were particularly rich and vivid, but overall everything was extremely accurate. Imatest confirmed this, giving the E-420 an impressive score in its colour checker test.
In terms of speed, this model did quite well. Its burst mode operated at a magnificent five frames per second — extremely speedy. Shutter lag was basically non-existent, and time between shots was a relatively low 0.3sec. Start-up time was a little slower than some of the competition at 1.2sec, but this is thanks to the dust reduction system, which activates automatically at power up.
Aside from dust reduction (which operates very well), live view also makes a welcome return. It has received an upgrade and has contrast-based autofocus, which significantly improves focus speeds when viewing through the LCD. Previous generations required the mirror to actually flip up out of the way so the sensor could focus properly, which took several seconds. This method eliminates that problem. While it still takes a second or so, it is considerably quicker than some competing models. We were a little disappointed to find the sensor-based stabilisation on other Olympus units hadn't made its way to the E-420. That said, all the other features you'd expect are present, including face detect, shadow adjustment and full manual shooting modes. Wireless flashes are also supported and the setup process is quick and intuitive which will greatly appeal to portrait enthusiasts.
This time around Olympus has bulked up the design a little, giving this model a slightly chunkier hand grip (an area of complaint with the E-410). This makes it slightly easier to hold, although users with big hands will still struggle to get a proper grip. That said, the design is sturdy and solid and the controls are well laid out. We found the menu a little counter-intuitive at times (functions like the custom white balance can be fiddly to setup).
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- 2 Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- 3 LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review
- 4 Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Boom: SanDisk just dropped the world's largest SD card
- Camera app makers tap into RAW power with iOS, and look forward to dual lenses
- Google Camera 3.2 lets you snap pictures while recording video
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSCRUM Master / Project Manager, CX, Financial ServicesNSW
- FTSales Operations ManagerNSW
- FTGraduate Application Support Analyst -SMSF SoftwareNSW
- FTSenior Business Analyst - Technical & FunctionalACT
- FTSenior C# DeveloperNSW
- FTTechnical WriterACT
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCSenior Project Manager - Applications - Data ReportingNSW
- TPSenior Full-Stack DeveloperSA
- TPSenior Business Analyst - Student Management SystemQLD
- FTSQL Server Database DeveloperSA
- FTSales Lead / Sales Executive - Enterprise IT Healthcare Perm - North RydeNSW
- CCDigital Project ManagerVIC
- FTSenior Systems EngineerNSW
- FTSecurity Support Manager - Perth BasedNSW
- FTData Analyst (Query Scripting and Reporting)NSW
- TPSenior SQL Database AdministratorNSW
- CCDevops Consultant - 12 month contractVIC
- FTDigital Sales Account Manager - Global Ecommerce BrandNSW
- FTSenior Business Analyst - Agile and Business ProcessNSW
- TPSenior Project Officer HSQQLD
- TPSharePoint DeveloperQLD
- TPAutomation TesterQLD
- FTTest Automation Lead | 6mth ContractVIC
- CCIT End to End UX Designer.VIC