Olympus E-420 Review

Review Date: June 5th 2008
Author: Gavin Stoker

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Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 10 megapixel SHQ JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

Noise

There are 5 ISO settings available on the Olympus E-420. As with the E-410, the E-420's light sensitivity settings are limited to ISO 1600 and below. Though this could be viewed as taking little risk (if any) regarding noise, any artefacts are refreshingly absent unless examined closely at ISO 800, and the performance at ISO 1600 though detail is starting to be lost is still better than many and the results eminently usable. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
 
   

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level to one of the 5 different preset levels if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   
   

Chromatic Aberrations

Both the Olympus E-420's 14-42mm and 25mm pancake kit lenses handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review, with very small levels of purple fringing mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)
 

Flash

The flash settings on the Olympus E-420 are Auto, Red-eye reduction, Slow synchronization, Slow synchronization 2nd curtain, Fill-in, Slow synchronization with red-eye reduction and Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off (50mm)

Auto Flash (50mm)

ISO 64
ISO 64
   

And here are some portrait shots. The Auto setting caused a tiny amount of red-eye, which the Red-eye reduction mode successfully removed.

Auto

Auto (100% Crop)
   

Auto & Red-eye reduction

Auto & Red-eye reduction (100% Crop)
   

Night Shot

The Olympus E-420's maximum shutter speed is 60 seconds or up to 30 minutes in Bulb mode, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/80 second, aperture of f/2.8 at ISO 200. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)
   

Overall Image Quality

Left on its automatic setting, the Olympus E-420's predecessor in E-410 struggled to maintain shot-to-shot consistency when it came to white balance. This time around any differences certainly feel less pronounced, if noticeable at all. As with the E-410, the E-420's light sensitivity settings are limited to ISO 1600 and below. Though this could be viewed as taking little risk (if any) regarding noise, any artefacts are refreshingly absent unless examined closely at ISO 800, and the performance at ISO 1600 though detail is starting to be lost is still better than many and the results eminently usable. Once again there's some very obvious barrel distortion at extreme wide angle of the 14-42mm kit lens though it will only largely cause distress to architecture and landscape purists. As expected, the 25mm pancake lens delivers the best (sharpest) results when getting in close for people portraits or to capture specific detail. And plenty of detail at that. Left on its default settings the Olympus E-420 delivers realistic and at once flattering skin tones and overall colours are realistic and exposures even, with the ability of course to add a bit more punch by selecting the vivid picture mode though we stuck with 'natural' for most of our test shots. Pixel fringing between areas of high contrast is likewise kept well under control, and as long as there's sufficient light around it's hard to find general fault with the Olympus E-420's performance.

Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

DIWAPhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Olympus E-420 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.

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