Every time a mention of the Olympus 4/3 camera system is made in articles we get comments that there is no promised size and weight savings with the 4/3 line. That ignores the E-410, which is currently the smallest DSLR made, but it is certainly true of the Pro-oriented E-3 whose construction and weather-sealing yield a solid camera that is both large and heavy. Perhaps to remind users that small is also beautiful, Olympus has just announced the world's smallest DSLR and a new 25mm f2.8 "pancake" lens that redefines small on a DSLR.

Olympus pioneered Live View, a feature that has become almost a checklist item for every new DSLR introduction these days. The Point-and-Shoot users who are migrating to DSLR in record numbers are used to this feature and many want to continue the ability to see and compose photos on the rear LCD. The E-420 takes Live View to a new level in the Olympus line, using both phase-detection and contrast-detection for focus on the 10MP (megapixel) Live View screen. Olympus says it also works just like regular AF (Auto-Focus) on the E-420: when you push the shutter release half-way you get AF on the rear LCD just like you do when looking through the optical viewfinder.

In addition, Olympus added another hot point-and-shoot technology to the E-420. Face Detection is this year's must have feature in P&S as we reported in our PMA coverage. The E-420 is the first DSLR with this feature and it promises to keep up to eight faces in focus in a picture. Despite the smaller camera size, the E-420 also increases the LCD size to 2.7" from the 2.5" of the E-410. Shadow Adjustment Technology also promises an expanded dynamic range.

Here's a quick rundown of the major features and innovations on the E-420:

  • On-Screen Autofocus works as seamlessly as a point-and-shoot to display subjects in focus on the LCD the instant the shutter is pressed half way.
  • Face Detection Technology targets and locks on up to eight faces to ensure they are in focus and crystal clear for amazing portraits.
  • New and Improved HyperCrystal II Technology delivers twice the contrast and better viewing in extreme lighting conditions, a broader range of color detail, and a wider angle of view on the LCD so you and your friends can see it up to 176 degrees off-center.
  • Shadow Adjustment Technology captures detail in the bright areas of a frame and opens up detail in the shadows that other cameras would render too dark or underexposed.
  • Perfect Shot Preview enables you to view and select your favorite effect right on the LCD, and see how the image will look before you even capture it, so you know that what you see is what you get.
A Closer Look


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  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, March 6, 2008 - link

    The Olympus auto sensor cleaning is regarded by most as the most effective available in DSLR cameras, so dust is hardly a concern. I do not understand your lens point since the 14-42 (28-84), 40-150 (80-300), and 35 (70) macro are all three the smallest and lightest lenses in their class, and optically quite excellent. Now there will also be a tiny 25mm (50) pancake lens as a kit choice.

    I do agree the E-420 would be better with body integral IS and an updated AF system with more points, but it is certainly competitive at its selling price. The E-420 is not a camera for everyone, but for those who really want a tiny DSLR camera and system it is one of the few options available.
  • haplo602 - Sunday, March 9, 2008 - link

    well it's good to know that the Oly sensor cleaning is one of the best, but a closed P&S system does have NO dust worries, so no reason to pay for the extra parts.

    as to the lenses, yes they might be small and good, but you still need to carry them and change them as needed. this kind of defies the minimal size and weight of this SLR. P&S has the same size and weight minus the lens hassle (ofc it is limited to only one lens).

    and to reply to the poster about the sensor size. I do not think the 4/3 sensor size is that much a win if you are climbing 10+MP.
  • Samus - Thursday, March 6, 2008 - link

    This camera, like the Celeron 420, daftly targets the 4:20 crowd ^_^ Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Wednesday, March 5, 2008 - link

    It was actually the E-330 which has the dubious honour of being the first Olympus SLR with the digital image stabilisation scene mode. Also it's worth bearing in mind that the E-400 and E-410 are actually more different than they perhaps seem, the E-400 was a bit of a 'test' camera only released to Europe with a Kodak 10MP CCD sensor, no liveview and some other missing features such as no mirror lockup. The E-410 uses a Panasonic 'NMOS' sensor, has liveview, mirror lockup and some other small touches. Irritatingly all the E-4xx cameras lack the ISO/EXP/WB/AF selection on the rear d-pad which their E-5xx siblings have.

    Pleased to see Olympus produce a 25mm pancake lens as there's no doubt that there's a market for small and light DSLRs. Hopefully if this does well we'll see some more pancake lenses as 14mm is the one I'm wanting. While I like the E-3 I definintely think there's a market for a pro-spec body around the size of the E-4xx - while there'd need to be some compromises it would appeal as a second camera for other system owners (particularly 35mm Nikon/Canons) rather than trying to take market away as they have tried with the E-3.

  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, March 5, 2008 - link

    I did not realize the E-330 pioneered the Digital Image stabilization feature. As you allude the in-body mechanical IS would have been a more desirable choice IMHO. I have corrected the reference. Reply
  • pervisanathema - Wednesday, March 5, 2008 - link

    IB camera snobs Reply

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