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Olympus E-420 Top Profile  (Source: Olympus)

Olympus e-420 with Kit Lens  (Source: Olympus)
The Olympus E-420 is sized more like a point-and-shoot camera than a DSLR

Olympus announced a new digital SLR camera called the E-420 that it bills as the world’s smallest DSLR camera. Despite its small size, Olympus promises a full feature set.

Olympus says the E-420 is small enough to fit into a purse or jacket pocket with measurements of 5.1-inches by 3.6-inches by 2.1-inches the E-420 is sized more like a point and shoot camera than a traditional DSLR. The camera is also very lightweight at only 13.4 ounces.

Other features of the E-420 include autofocus with a live view LCD that allows users to frame shots with the LCD screen rather than the view finder is desired. The LCD itself is a 2.7-inch HyperCrystal II promising twice the contrast and better viewing in bright conditions. The camera uses a 10-megapixel Live-MOS sensor promising clear images even at high ISO settings.

The E-420 is also compatible with wireless flash units form Olympus including the FL-50R and FL-36R. The camera supports CompactFlash Type I/II, Microdrive and xD-Picture cards for storage and the lens mount is a four thirds system. A dust reduction system is built-in and uses Supersonic Wave Filter technology. Images can be shot in 12-bit RAW format, JPEG, or RAW+JPEG.

The viewfinder is an eye-level single-lens reflex design with approximately a 95% field of view with a magnification of 0.92x. Image stabilization is not included. The autofocus system uses 3-point multiple AF and has an available focusing aid. The ISO sensitivity rage is ISO 100- 1600 in 1EV steps and the shutter speed is from 2 – 1/4000 of a second. The camera ships with a 14-42mm f2.8 kit lens. Availability is scheduled for late April at about $599 for the kit with lens and $499 for the body only.

DailyTech recently covered Olympus-rival Sony which launched a pair of new D-SLR cameras as well called the A300 and A350.

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Another swing and a miss for OM
By fictisiousname on 3/5/2008 7:02:44 PM , Rating: 2
As an OM SLR fan, I would REALLY like to see Olympus come out with a camera that competes with the Canon and NIkon DSLR offerings. Yet here again, their offering touts features previously offered by the other two manufacturers a year or two ago. (Sensor size and cleaning, for example).

While the slightly smaller size is nice, and was one of the factors Astrophotographers flocked to OM SLRs in the past, give us a sensor that competes well with your competition.

RE: Another swing and a miss for OM
By GTK on 3/5/2008 8:11:50 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, you really don't know much about Olympus do you? They were the first DSLR manufacturer to introduce a sensor cleaning system, and it is consistantly reviewed as superior to the cleaning systems of Nikon and Canon. Here is a simple quote from

"The "Supersonic Wave Filter" is a method of keeping the image sensor clean by making a very thin filter glass in front of the sensor vibrate at very high frequency. This causes dust or dirt to drop off and be trapped on a stick tape material. The SSWF is triggered each time you power up the camera (it's a pity you can't disable or modify when it occurs as it does introduce a slight delay). On the positive side this is still the only dust reduction system that has proven effectiveness."

This is just one comment, but I've seen similar quotes elsewhere. I can't find it at the moment, but one of the D300 reviews I was reading last week commented that they wished the cleaning was comparable to the Olympus system.

Also, the image sensor comparison is rediculous. Canon and Nikon DO NOT offer the same image sensor size. The four-thirds system is shared with Panasonic and Leica. This sensor is actually smaller than those employed by Canon and Nikon in their entry level DSLRs. However, it allows for small camera bodies as this beautifully demonstrates.

I have a nice DSLR, but I travel around my city by bike, and my camera and lenses have a backpack of their own. I have been considering the Sigma DP1 (A Point and shoot with a large image sensor) as a carry around camera I can have with me everyday. However, this camera looks much more exciting to me. I can put it in a small case with a couple of prime pancake lenses and keep it in my everyday backpack.

Please understand that this camera is not aimed at the same market as the larger Canons and Nikons. Instead this will make a good first DSLR for point and shoot users OR a great second, small camera, for serious photographers to carry when they can't have their larger cameras. It is a really exciting product in both respects!

RE: Another swing and a miss for OM
By fictisiousname on 3/5/2008 9:13:20 PM , Rating: 2
If I rained on your parade, GTK, I didn't mean to. But you do realize you just reinforced my points by using a comparison of this latest OM to the Canon 300D, which was introduced in 2003. BTW, both the Canon 350 and 400 Rebels have sensor cleaning. OM's is "better"? ...OK.

You further wrote "Also, the image sensor comparison is rediculous. Canon and Nikon DO NOT offer the same image sensor size. The four-thirds system is shared with Panasonic and Leica. This sensor is actually smaller than those employed by Canon and Nikon in their entry level DSLRs. However, it allows for small camera bodies as this beautifully demonstrates."

I'm not sure where you're going, or why you felt the need to claim "Wow, you really don't know much about Olympus do you?" but you claim my earlier comparison was "rediculous" while touting the sensor size as allowing for a smaller camera body. Nothing in the slight difference in sensor size between these cameras is critical to the final size of the cameras in question. Sensor characteristics (IE: pix size, count, full well capacity) as well as the electronics that process the image into a saved image is what DEFINES the camera, and what separates the chaff from the wheat.

I believe I already mentioned that I am an Olympus fan.....

RE: Another swing and a miss for OM
By GTK on 3/5/2008 10:28:42 PM , Rating: 2
Whoops! o.o; typo... I meant, D300, Nikon's new prosumer camera... which shares the same dust removal as their top of the line D30.

The line that I had such issue with (in addition to the title, "Another swing and a miss for OM", which seems to entirely dismiss this camera) is this one:

"Yet here again, their offering touts features previously offered by the other two manufacturers a year or two ago. (Sensor size and cleaning, for example)."

It seemed, from your post, that you were suggesting that Olympus was late the adopt the sensor cleaning technology, but they created it (2003, adopted by Sony in 2005, and Nikon and Canon in 2006), and it is still superior to the competition's. That comment, if I misinterpreted it, I'm sorry, seemed to indicate that you didn't know a lot about Olympus cameras. Also, I couldn't understand why you said that Canon and Nikon had the image sensor size a couple of years ago because it seemed to be a very silly thing to compare. Each company chose their preferred non-35mm DSLR sensor size a lot more than "a year or two ago".

I see now that you were just making a quick comment, without thinking too much about it, but it seemed to show you weren't to well informed about the company's products and were dismissing this particular camera without understand the intended target audiences. Your comments in the follow up post above demonstrates a better understanding of digital cameras. I apologize for being so aggressive in my last reply, the negative title got my hackles up.

To be honest, you probably are more familiar with OM than I am. This is likely going to be my first Olympus. I also admit that I haven't studied up on the four-thirds system yet. I just know that one of the stated reasons behind its design was its ability to go into smaller camera bodies, though at the expense of suffering more noise in high iso situations. I would guess that the aspect ratio (more square) and the fact that it is 30-40% smaller than the competition's APS-C size might make a significant difference in both creating smaller camera bodies and lenses.

I just see a great deal of potential for this camera because of its small dimensions. I know that I'm not alone in wanting a more compact camera with a large image sensor, which is why this is an exciting product. If you are not limited by a larger camera (for instance, if you usually travel by car and can keep your kit in the trunk), then that is less of an issue for you, but it takes you out of the target audience.

Oh, here is the wiki on dust reduction systems if you are interested:

RE: Another swing and a miss for OM
By fictisiousname on 3/6/2008 8:54:12 AM , Rating: 2
No problemo, Amigo.

Let's just say my first post expressed the frustration with OM...I so much would LOVE to see them lead the pack. While my needs are apparently different than yours (I would primarily use a DSLR for Astrophotography) that doesn't mean that this camera won't fill a niche for somebody else.

BTW, I was mistaken in my belief of who introduced the Sensor Cleaning system. Thank you for pointing it out, as it prompted me to do further research.

Anyway...I wait, patiently, for these DSLRs to evolve another cycle.

RE: Another swing and a miss for OM
By GTK on 3/6/2008 11:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
By the way, What makes Olympus cameras particularly good for Astrophotography?

By ElFenix on 3/6/2008 6:48:46 PM , Rating: 2
unless you can suddenly edit posts, he typed D300, the new nikon, not 300D, the old canon.

the 350D does not have sensor cleaning. the eos cleaning system was introduced on the 400D.

olympus's argument that the sensor allows them to create smaller bodies doesn't really hold much water. the difference in size between this sensor and a regular APS-C sensor isn't anywhere near as great as the difference between, say, medium format and 35 mm. you still have to have a mount, mirror box, prism/mirrors, competitively sized LCD, buttons, battery, storage, etc. about the only thing that is actually smaller is the mount depth. however, until olympus brought out this new pancake lens, a pentax DS2 with pancakes was much smaller with lens attached.

maybe the small sensor is responsible for the small dimensions of the kit telephoto zoom, or maybe olympus just designed it better. it's .2 inches slimmer and 1.4 inches shorter than the similar canon 55-250, but the canon is a 400 mm equivalent while the olympus is 300 mm equivalent.

problem with olympus' small sensor is that if you want a lens equivalent to canon's 70-200 f/4L you need a 35-100 f/2, which is longer, wider, weighs 2x as much, and costs 4x as much.

Never really experienced the DSLR
By KeplersTwinkie on 3/5/2008 12:54:36 PM , Rating: 2
I am a part time astronomer... I occasionally hook up my lappy or my CCD up to my DS2114... I wonder what improves these DSLR cameras hold over my 35mil and other Digital cameras.

By wallijonn on 3/5/2008 1:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder what improves these DSLR cameras hold over my 35mil and other Digital cameras.

It probably depends on whether or not you can turn off DNR. At least it has RAW output. With DNR I would expect ISO to go to max.

RE: Never really experienced the DSLR
By Albotron on 3/5/2008 5:39:27 PM , Rating: 2
For astronomy, if you have the $, get a Nikon D3. The only reason I would say that is that the high ISO performance on it is outstanding. The higher ISO will let you get more pictures of faint parts of the sky without as much movement of the stars during your exposures.

By ElFenix on 3/6/2008 6:53:06 PM , Rating: 2
nikon D3's noise reduction can't tell the difference between noise and point light sources (i.e. stars) and the only way you can work around it at this point is to make the camera think it's battery is about to die. there is another factor of the noise reduction that makes the D3 a poor choice for astrophotography, but i can't remember what it is right now.

so, no, the D3 is not a good astrophotography camera.

image stabilization
By Eris23007 on 3/5/2008 12:20:56 PM , Rating: 2
Image stabilization would put me over the top with this one - the small form factor is very attractive, but I think I've reached the point of such frustration with digital cameras that I'm not interested unless it has IS.

As I recall, Olympus does all their IS in the camera bodies, not the lenses, so it isn't as though you can add IS later either. Let me know if I'm wrong on this one...

Moral of the story: Bummer, man. Almost a great fit for my needs...

RE: image stabilization
By ElFenix on 3/5/2008 1:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
yes, olympus puts IS in the bodies rather than the lenses. there are panasonic lenses that have IS in the lens, but they're generally expensive. sigma may release some lenses with IS for four thirds, but they barely have any for canikon so i wouldn't hold my breath.

RE: image stabilization
By Discord on 3/5/2008 3:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
I so wanted this thing to have IS too!
Oh well, their upper end 5xx models come with it, are pretty darn small and reasonably priced. I guess I'll just have to wait for the next refresh.
Hail Eris!

Correction: Included kit lens
By dheffer on 3/5/2008 1:50:04 PM , Rating: 3
The lens in the first picture is the 14mm-42mm (28mm-84mm equiv.) f/3.5-5.6 lens. This lens is included in the e420 kit. The lens in the second picture is the 25mm (50mm equiv.) f/2.8 lens, and is much shorter, and is not included in the kit, which makes this article a little misleading (think that the body + included lens is that small).

When I saw the statement that the e420 kit came with a 14mm-42mm f/2.8 lens, I got pretty excited, since a lens of that speed and range would likely cost more than the body.

Pretty sweet camera if you have the need for a compact dSLR -- I had the e410, although the reason I got rid of it was because it was too small and too difficult to hold firmly in my hands.

RE: Correction: Included kit lens
By ElFenix on 3/5/2008 3:53:52 PM , Rating: 3
there is a kit that inclues the 25 f/2.8. MSRP is another $100, and does not include the zoom. so, $200 for the 25 f/2.8 on top of the camera price. $499 body only, $599 with zoom, $699 with standard pancake.

By ElFenix on 3/5/2008 12:06:32 PM , Rating: 2
i really liked the e-410, and i like this one even more. it's really nice that olmypus came out with a relatively inexpensive and compact normal lens for the system. now for a compact wide angle and compact telephoto.

the only thing i could ask for in this camera that is realistic is an SD slot instead of both a CF and a (useless) xD slot. then olympus could either narrow the body on the right a little more to get more effective grip without making the body larger, or olympus could provide a larger battery.

RE: great!
By Discord on 3/5/2008 3:01:28 PM , Rating: 2
Both Olympus and Fuji are phasing out their XD memory in favor of SD. Why they bothered to put XD on this is beyond me. That 2GB max, not to mention slow write speeds, is going to be worthless on a 10MP camera taking RAW photos.

By Xerio on 3/5/2008 11:57:25 AM , Rating: 2
Sweet DSLR. I can't wait for reviews to see how this thing performs. Should be pretty good.

Im not sure
By Xodus Maximus on 3/5/2008 12:59:45 PM , Rating: 2
how small this camera is, its always difficult to tell from pictures that just show the camera and no reference object, say like a can of soda next to it, would that be too hard. About a year ago I was shopping for a camera and liked a Panasonic Lummix, looking online it seemed to have a "classic" SLR shape and all the features I liked, but I looked in a store and it felt awkward because it was that shape in a toy size, it was an uncomfortable form factor for that size, this might be the same...

oh and that "Supersonic Wave Filter Technology", if I was marketing it, I would so call it "Ultrasonic MegaWave SuperFilter Technology" but that is just me :p

4/3 sensor
By Bekali on 3/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: 4/3 sensor
By ElFenix on 3/5/2008 12:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
uh, what?

Four-thirds isn't used on any compact cameras. it'd be really nice if olympus would put a four thirds sensor in a compact. i think eventually someone other than sigma will put an SLR sensor in a compact, but i doubt olympus will do so first. it'd eat into e-4xx sales.

RE: 4/3 sensor
By Bekali on 3/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: 4/3 sensor
By cobalt42 on 3/5/2008 1:02:10 PM , Rating: 5
I think you're referring to the 4:3 aspect ratio, while ElFenix is referring to Olympus' Four Thirds sensor, which primarily is defined by its size in equivalent inches: 4/3". Unfortunately, the Four Thirds system is also has a 4:3 aspect ratio, which obviously confuses discussions about it.

RE: 4/3 sensor
By ElFenix on 3/5/2008 1:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
a) the size on compacts is usually 1/2.5", sometimes 1/1.8". as the other poster pointed out, you're confusing aspect ratio for sensor size. the four-thirds sensor is ~5 to 8 times larger than the sensors used in compact cameras.

b) wider aspect ratios do not use as much of the circular image that the lens throws as a more square aspect ratio does.

RE: 4/3 sensor
By sgtdisturbed47 on 3/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: 4/3 sensor
By tdawg on 3/5/2008 4:17:44 PM , Rating: 3
This is so small-minded it hurts. Olympus has been known for making great slr cameras in small form factors, such as the OM series with film. Their lenses are high quality and compact and their bodies are compact, making these new models a strong alternative to the P&S. There is so much an SLR can provide that a P&S can't; your assersion is just naive.

I mainly use a Nikon D2H and I for one am looking forward to the this model with the 25mm pancake lens, as is my father, I'm sure (I started this hobby with Olympus, he is an Olympus fan). The E-420 offers the convenient size of a P&S with the features and performance of a dSLR and complements the rest of Olympus's line--from Professional dSLR to Consumer dSLR. It also allows you to utilize much better lenses and a stronger lighting system than a P&S ever will.

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