Cameras

Olympus Announces 'World's Smallest and Lightest' DSLR

March 5, 2008 – Olympus today announced what it calls the “world’s smallest and lightest DSLR,” the Evolt-E420. This 10-megapixel entry-level DSLR updates last year’s Evolt-E420 with a number of new features and upgrades, including improved dyna

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March 5, 2008 – Olympus today announced what it calls the "world’s smallest and lightest DSLR," the Evolt-E420. This 10-megapixel entry-level DSLR updates last year’s Evolt-E420 with a number of new features and upgrades, including improved dynamic range, white balance, and face detection technology. The E-420 will retail for $499.99 for the body only, $599.99 with the ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens, and $699.99 with the ED 25mm f/2.8 Zuiko Digital Lens. The camera will be available in May.

The Evolt E-420 measures 5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 inches and weighs 13.4 ounces. This is slightly smaller and lighter than the next smallest DSLR, Canon’s recently-released Rebel XSi. The new Rebel measures 5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4 inches and weighs 16.8 ounces; you can read our First Impressions review of it here. The Evolt E-420 is designed with the amateur in mind – the features and easy-to-use approach is aimed at users looking to upgrade from their first or second point-and-shoot digital cameras.

"The Olympus E-420 delivers the professional-grade image quality of a digital SLR with the simple operation of a point-and-shoot camera," said John Knaur, senior marketing manager - DSLR, Olympus Imaging America Inc.

The Evolt E-420 upgrades the LCD screen, from 2.5 to 2.7 inches, and maintains 230,000 pixels of resolution. According to Olympus, the E-420’s HyperCrystal II LCD will feature double the contrast for viewing in difficult lighting, a broader color gamut for greater color detail, and a wider view so the LCD can be viewed at nearly all angles – 176 degrees off center.

Olympus first introduced Live View on a consumer DSLR with 2006’s E-330; the E-420 also features Live View, which allows users to frame their shots using the LCD screen, like a point-and-shoot camera. Live View is becoming increasingly popular on DSLRs, especially entry-level models that aim to please users buying their first DSLR after using point-and-shoots. The E-420 features autofocus in the Live View, which users can utilize by pressing the shutter down halfway, like on point-and-shoots. Some other DSLRS can only focus when the mirror is in the down position, which makes shooting slower.

The Truepic III image processor can shoot up to 3.5 frames per second in sequenced shooting, and a Supersonic Wave Filter dust reduction system vibrates the sensor to remove dust particles. The ISO ranges from ISO 100 to 1600, and the shutter speed ranges from 2 to 1/4000 of a second.

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The E-420 features face detection technology, which can detect up to eight faces and track them as they move across the screen, and shadow adjustment technology, which adjusts images to allow for greater detail in shadows. Perfect Shot Preview allows users to check out the adjustments they’ve made on the LCD before capturing an image.

In addition, Olympus borrows white balance technology from the flagship E-S DSLR, utilizing a new algorithm that the manufacturer claims produces more accurate color. Burst mode has also been slightly improved, from 3 to 3.5 frames per second. 

It is also compatible with the FL-36R and FL-56R, Olympus’ wireless flash units. A pop-up built-in flash is included. The E-420 has 18 preset Scene modes, including Portrait, Landscape, Children, and Sports modes.

The E-420 comes packaged with either a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens or its 0.9-inch thick, 25mm, f/2.8 lens. It’s an ultra-compact lens that offers a fixed 50mm equivalent; it, combined with the E-420, "offer the ultimate combination in ease-of-use and portability," according to Olympus.

The E-420 is compatible with CompactFlash I and II, Microdrives, and xD memory cards.

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