The 10-megapixel Olympus E-420 is a purposely compact DSLR that features Live View and Shadow Adjustment technology.
The influence of the 35mm film SLR Olympus OM-1 is ever present with the E-420. The mode dial and right selection wheel fall in the same place as the film speed dial and film advance level were on the OM-1, while the shutter release is also in a similar place.
The camera is housed in glass-reinforced plastic that helps to keep overall weight down, yet provides a feeling of solidity. Cosmetically, the changes between the E-410 and the E-420 are slight. The new model sports a redesigned grip to provide a better purchase, while the larger LCD screen has caused the thumb rest to be slightly smaller. Also, the sides of the mode dial and selection wheel have lost their grooves, now replaced by a fine dimpled patterning.
For the most part the camera handles well, with its buttons giving good travel and a satisfying click when depressed. Small aspects of its design, though, work against comfortable handling and general operation. For example, having the two strap eyelets positioned on the front of the body means that unless you’re holding the camera exactly the way the grip dictates, the right eyelet gets in the way of a comfortable hold, digging into the side of your forefinger. One way around this would be to have the option of unscrewing these, but unfortunately this isn’t possible.
Size Compatibility Issues
Perhaps more of an issue is that a number of compatible accessories – lenses, flashguns etc – can imbalance the body; this is because they were not designed specifically with the E-420 in mind. This wasn’t an issue with more substantial offerings such as the E-300 and E-330, but here it’s more noticeable. These issues stem from the E-420 being built for (a compact) size, and so it follows that some compromises with regards to handling are to be expected.
Of course, it’s advisable to handle any camera before you buy it but this is especially the case for the E-420. Having said this, it’s worth bearing in mind that together with the 25mm f/2.8 pancake lens it’s one of the few DSLRs that you’d be able to fit into a roomy coat pocket, and so it makes for a perfect ‘walkaround’ camera – much like the manual OM cameras were.