The 10-megapixel Olympus E-420 is a purposely compact DSLR that features Live View and Shadow Adjustment technology.
Performance: Page 1
Powering up the camera automatically activates the dust-busting Supersonic Wave Filter (SSWF), after which the shooting settings are displayed on the ‘Super Control Panel’. This is basically the LCD’s interface containing all key (and some not so key) settings. Changing these is simple and quick, with the layout allowing you to quickly jump from one setting to the next, though in some cases you need to right-click through all the available options for the selector to zig-zag its way down to the one you want. Why can’t you simply press the ‘down’ button when you want to go down? The Graphic User Interface is also looking rather dated, and something which would benefit from a revamp. Olympus hasn’t deviated too far from its previous implementations and it shows; it’s very much the MS-DOS of menu systems.
We didn’t find the three AF points too limiting, though it’s worth noting that the three-point system is a little behind the times. Possibly as a result of the points not being biaxial (sensing focus along both vertical and horizontal axes) and lacking a cross-sensor centre point, it also seems as though they aren’t as sensitive as they could be. This was something we noticed more in impromptu situations. With the 7-14mm f/4 lens we also encountered a couple of false focuses, where the camera claimed to be in focus despite the viewfinder telling a different story.
Disadvantages of Four Thirds
Thankfully, Olympus is slowly kitting its lens range with the faster-focusing Supersonic Wave Drive (SWD) technology, though as of yet only three fairly pricey lenses feature this. This is one of the disadvantages of investing in a relatively new system such as Four Thirds. Olympus needs to catch up with other manufacturers to provide faster AF performance for both the enthusiast and semi-pro end of its market. Other manufacturers have made the piezo-electric based technology more accessible over a variety of more affordable lenses.
We suspect the average Four Thirds consumer may need to wait a while for this technology to filter down to more affordable options. The important point though is that this technology is available – and with the 12-60mm SWD and 50-200mm SWD lenses, autofocusing shows not just an improvement but an impressive performance.
Autofocusing aside, we didn’t notice a single speck of dust on any images depsite frequently changing lenses on both bodies. Olympus has long claimed that its Dust Reduction is the most effective available, and given what we’ve seen we won’t argue otherwise.
That said, we would appreciate a better viewfinder as trying to see both the entire frame as well as the exposure information along the right-hand side can be tricky.