Olympus E-420

This tiny SLR is a solid performer

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now
Olympus E-420
  • Olympus E-420
  • Olympus E-420
  • Olympus E-420
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5


  • 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

Bottom Line

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.

Would you buy this?

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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?