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Olympus E-420

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    6 Reviews
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      29.06.2011 12:45
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      A very good camera for ameteur photographers

      I've had my Olympus E-420 for well over a year now. It's my first digital SLR camera and I bought it initially simply to take good quality photos for my website but since then I've got the photography bug and have been using my new best friend to learn as much as I can about taking some super photos. That said, even with over a year of experimentation, I'm pretty sure I haven't even scratched the surface of the capabilities of the camera. While I'm now clued up on how to use most functions and when to use them, I'm sure there is still much much more to learn to achieve even more beautiful photos with this SLR.

      Price

      The Olympus E-420 is really an entry level DSLR. I chose it, to put it simply, as it was the most I could afford, but also because I had a few compact Olympus cameras in the past and they have all been very reliable. The camera cost me £250 15 months ago and it doesn't seemed to have dropped much in price. It comes with editing software, the Olympus Master 2 suite, which will give you more editing possibilities than the standard Windows Photo Gallery but if you're use to photoshop this probably won't be of any interest to you. Also included in the box along with the main body of the camera is a 14-42mm lens, two lens hoods, spare lens cap, carry strap, instructions, USB cable, battery and charger. In addition to this these is a 'how to' DVD. It's worth a watch and I watched mine a few times. A little cheesy yes, but it gives you a good understanding of not only where to start with your somewhat daunting looking camera, but also the basic rules of photography.


      Extras

      Memory Cards -The camera as with most digital cameras does not come with a memory card. It will fit either and XD or a CompactFlash card. I originally bought a 2GB XD for my camera, which costs around £10 but I soon began to fill that quite quickly as I changed to taking super fine (very high quality) photos and invested in an 8 GB CompactFlash which I picked up on play.com for £18. The good thing is you can have both types of card in the camera at one time and choose which you want to save to on the menu. I haven't noticed any difference in quality between these two types of card. Whichever I save them to I seem to get good quality pictures and the speed difference is marginal. Of course it will depend also on the quality of card you buy.

      Lenses- This is where SLR photography gets expensive. If you think getting your new SLR with one standard lens will satisfy you for a while before you need to fork out any more think again. Once the photography bug has got hold it will suck you in and drain your wallet! As I started to but experiment more, and became interested in taking wildlife shots, I found my 14 - 42mm lens just wasn't enough and soon forked out on a lens with a much larger zoom. I shopped about and did some serious ebay bidding and managed to get one for £229. Lenses can cost anything from a few hundred to thousands of pounds.

      Other extras - The only other extra I've bought so far is a set of filters. You can pick these up relatively cheaply though do some research as I've heard some cheap makes can be poor quality and actually distort the pictures and reduce clarity. The benefit of filters is to reduce glare, protect the lens and add various different effects to your pictures, depending on a number of factors such as the light and mode in which you are shooting.

      Other items on my wish list are a tripod to help with stability and enable me to experiment with the timer a little more. These you can again get quite cheaply, for about £20 but after forking out a few hundred on a camera and then more on a lens, I'm saving to get a good quality one that I know will look after my baby! I also want a flash with remote that I can be a little more creative with. I try not to use the built in flash wherever possible as it gives quite a harsh light. Having one I can rotate and use more subtly would be an advantage.

      A spare battery is also a good investment, especially for holidays or days out where you intend to take lots of pictures. These can be picked up cheaply but beware of poor imitations that can only provide around a third of the power it should.

      Finally and probably most importantly, invest in a good bag or case. I think I should upgrade mine already as acquiring more gadgets means more to carry around. They can be expensive but shop around. It's worthwhile protecting such a valuable piece of equipment.


      Getting Started

      First thing first and charging the battery is the first thing to do before you get stuck in. I'd give it overnight to fully charge before you first use it. The battery charger is a cradle type, you don't charge the battery in the actual camera. A full charge usually provides me with at least a full day of snapping and viewing, so not bad. One niggle is that the charger cable is very short, only a few inches and I struggle often to find something to lean it on as it won't stretch to a table top from some of my plug sockets.

      The battery and memory cards are very easily put in and removed from the camera and the lens is also very easy to change.


      Features

      The full specification of the camera can be found here - http://www.olympus.co.uk/consumer/dslr_digital_slr_specifications_18953.htm

      Here are a few basics -
      Megapixels - 10
      Viewfinder/ Live View
      Scene Modes -18 (Portrait, Landscape, Landscape with portrait, Night scene, Night scene with portrait, Children, Sports, High key, Low Key, Image stabilisation mode, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Fireworks, Documents, Beach and snow, Panorama)
      Exposure modes - Auto, Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Scene modes.
      Sensitivity - ISO 100 -1600
      Self timer - 12s/2s
      Anti Shock
      Shutter Speed range - 1/4000-60s
      Colour space - sRGB
      Picture modes - Vivid, Natural, Muted, Portrait, Black and White
      Internal Flash
      LCD Screen 2.7"
      Recording formats - RAW, JPEG, RAW + JPEG
      Dimensions - 129.5 x 91 x 53 mm
      Weight - 380g (body only)

      I tend to use the camera's viewfinder more that the live view, simply because you can't see it very well in strong sunlight. I also think it helps a little with stability. It's good that you have the option of both however. In live view (using the LCD screen) you have your setting displayed around the edge. This isn't a problem with using the viewfinder either though, as your setting are displayed around the edge of the viewfinder as you look through which I think is excellent.

      When getting started, it's tempting to use auto the whole time, but I urge you to play about with other settings, it's the only way of learning your camera. I think it's perhaps best to work through the scene modes before the manual modes. While you may find you use certain scene modes a lot, others you may never use at all. I think everyone loves a nice sunset picture and I've had a lot of success with this mode, living near the sea and getting lots of chances to use it. I've found this is a useful scene to use even when not taking sunsets however, simply when taking lots of red and orange tones. I had quite a lot of success using it to take some pictures of flames. This is probably my favourite scene mode, and as I've used the camera more, I've found I don't use any of the other modes as much, and am more in favour of manual settings for moving objects or portraits, for example. I've also used the macro mode with varying success with a standard lens and am saving for a macro! The great thing about adding a CompactFlash card and giving your self a lot of shots is that you can snap away and experiment with the different modes without worrying about running out of room.

      Even if you do go crazy, it's simple to go through and view your photos and delete the ones you want. It always asks on the screen if your sure to prevent you deleting any by accident too.

      You can get cameras with much higher megapixel count than 10 these days but really this camera gives such excellent quality photos I'm not sure I'd notice the difference. 10 megapixels is more than adequate for near enough everything you could wish to shoot.


      Ease of Use

      I won't lie and say this is easy to get to grips with, because it's not but no more than any other DSLR I would have thought. Sure, it's easy to set up and take pictures on auto, but if that's all you intend to do you should have saved yourself a few hundred quid and bought a compact camera. It does take time to get used to the various functions and as I said I'm still learning but with everything the more you practice the easier it gets. I'm finding now that I change settings without thinking to much about it, the actual changing of the settings themselves, it's easy and most is done via the dial on the top of camera. It's only the more complex settings that are found by using the menus, which is more time consuming but still quite easy to navigate and you soon get used to where everything is hiding.

      A more experienced DSLR user of course will probably find no problem with finding their way round this camera, and whilst I haven't found anything I want it to do that it doesn't so far, I'm sure there are things missing that a more experienced photographer would want. I think it is aimed at DSLR beginners really.


      Picture Quality

      A picture of course, is only as good as the person taking it and this camera won't tell you how to compose you picture, or indeed what to take. What it will do is give excellent clarity of image. As I mentioned I have been using super fine images which take the optimum quality image the camera can manage. This means a lot more room taken up on your memory card and when you transfer them to computer / upload to the net. The payback is a really good quality image. Of course you can shoot in a number of different sizes and even the lowest will give you a fine picture, it all depends what you want to do with the image later on. I have had some of mine printed to display at up to 12 x 18", if you want to do this it's best to use a high quality. If not it may be beneficial to lower the quality and fit more on your card. It's really down to you, but remember you can always resize down afterwards, but not up.

      I took some photos which I thought were excellent when I first started using it, but as I've taken more I realise they aren't as good as I thought! The problem is the better you get, the more critical you get too!


      Overall

      There's probably a million more things I could say about such complex product, there really is no end to what you can do which is why DSLR photography is so rewarding and so addictive.

      The Olympus E-420 is a great start for anyone entering this world. A good entry level price and a reliable, well thought out design for beginners. This should last a long time, I've certainly had not problems with it's performance so far and I'm very pleased with my investment.

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      • More +
        19.02.2011 20:39
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        Olympus E-420 is good DSLR for beginners and for those who prefer to travel light.

        Here is the second model of the small Olympus DSLRs. I bought it in 2009 for around £400. The E-420 has some improvements over its predecessor. It's body is small but perfectly formed and also comfortable to hold, if you don't have big hands. The matte black body looks like it's made of metal, but closer look will reveal that the material is hard plastic.

        The E-420 has a Live View mode which includes autofocus based on contrast detection. It's faster to focus than the E-410 but it's still somewhat slow compared to the classic viewfinder autofocus. To be honest, I rarely used the Live View mode. If you are into macro photography, it will help you greatly with manual focusing. The E-420 also features 18 scene modes. These modes will help you shoot nice photos without much effort. I personally prefer to shoot in the apperture priority and manual modes.

        In terms of lenses, you have three choices. You can buy the body-only package or choose to have the 14-42 mm F/3.5-5.6 kit lens or the so called Double Zoom Kit, which contains the previously mentioned lens and the 40-150 mm F/4-5.6 telephoto lens. I chose the second choice and if I could turn back the time, I would choose the third one because the 40-150 mm is a great lens. Photo quality is pretty good for the low price, although the photos tend to suffer from noise when you use higher ISO.

        Olympus E-420 is small and lightweight camera. It is a perfect choice for those who prefer to travel light.

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          17.07.2010 17:01
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          Excellent camera! Would Definitely recommend :)

          I bought this SLR for my college course at a reasonable price of £387 based on several recommendations and the fact that it was the worlds smallest digital SLR, with some great features, was undeniably appealing to say the least.

          Considering the actual quality of build, in my opinion the E-420 is great, especially considering its starting price. The body is made almost entirely of metal, and it doesn't have that really annoying "plasticky" feel i found common in some of its competitors. Despite the fact that the camera does have more than its share of buttons, it's not quite as confusing to figure out as the E-520, and i quickly became accustomed to them.

          In terms of ease of use, again I have to admit that the product is particularly simple, especially when AUTO mode is in use, of which includes a wide selection of scene modes, that i personally got some great shots with, and would recommend to those lacking experience. Theres a simple, intergrated guide that explains various options and settings - again handy for those starting out in photography. Continuing with the controls towards the back of the camera, i found them quite quite easy to get the hang of, modes are also easily altered by use of the clear mode dial. The menus are responsive and quite straight-forward, however i would highly suggest reference to the manual.

          One thing i find particularly appealing with the SLR is the 10-megapixel sensor, that offers great flexibility and allows the user to enlarge prints based on the supported sizes, accepted by printers on the markent at present, it also gives the option of cropping a shot to print a specific part.

          Finally mobility is never a problem, thanks to the fact that it is the world's most lightweight and smallest digital SLR. Essentially this wonderful little package will go and fit anywhere - may it be a coat pocket to a women's purse. This unique quality means that you'll never miss out on a special opportunity for a shot, making it ideal for reporters, sightseers or anyone appreciative of its rare capabilities.

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          27.01.2010 21:13
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          Could have been great value, but mine was a bit of a let down.

          I originally bought this camera after trading in my beloved Nikon film camera. I was tempted by the fact that it was the world's smallest digital slr, and that it was reasonably priced. So was it a good choice? In my experience probably not. Don't get me wrong this camera takes some amazing outside shots, I took it to a friends wedding and she was thrilled with the final results. There are a multitude of presets that you can choose to set up various scenes, all of which alter the aperture and focus ranges.
          The big let down with this camera for me was in low light conditions, i.e. indoors it just will not focus! No matter if its in live view or traditional it will just keep firing pre flash beams out, without locking on, so you are unable to take the shot that you want indoors. There is nothing more annoying then standing there trying to get a shot only to see the person next to you happily snapping away on a £40 compact. I have tried everything possible to rectify it, but nothing seems to work. I can only think that it is a fault with this particular camera as I have not seen any mention of it elsewhere.
          This was also the 1st reasonably priced digital slr to incorporate live view. This works well and it is obvious that this is going to be the norm from now on.

          This camera could have been excellent, and from what reviews I have read probably is, but I can only talk about my own experiences, which were not upto the standards of the Nikon's or Cannons.

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            19.11.2008 04:26
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            I won't buy another Olympus!

            I've been looking for a digitial SLR camera for a while now but I'm not the cleverest person when it comes to photography as I'm just starting to learn. I therefore wanted something simple, compact and easy to use.

            I liked this camera as it was simple enough to use and it really does fit in your handbag girlies (once you detach the lens of course) but I've had to send it back as the computer software I got with it would not work on three different pcs. It loaded etc but it wouldn't convert certain photos. So I've had to send it back.

            Instead of ordering another one, I've asked for a refund as I've noticed from shopping around a bit more that I was majorly ripped off. I paid £ 430 for this camera and you can get it elsewhere for less than £ 300!!!

            I think I will stick with Canon in the future even though this was a nice looking camera!

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              18.10.2008 12:04
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              a fantastic camera

              i have recently brought the new olympus e-420 and i must say im no phototographer but the pictures ive took with it are amazing such great quality and really easy to use. i must admitt to look at it its abit dawnting but really once u read the manual and find the few programes you will use the most is really easy to get along with, i brought mine from a catalouge company so paid more any way and in my kit i got e-420 camera,14-42mm lens,neack strap,lithium battery,charger,usb cable,video cable,manual,cd softwear,and warrenty card all for £365.00 a real bargin you can buy this camera in many stores such as dixons,currys,for arround £350 .
              now what the camera does it has face detection with is great, when taking a photo it finds the face of the person or people your takeing a picture of so u get a really good quality picture it has 28 shooting modes ,it has a 2.7inch lcd monitor and shadow adjustment,and it also has dust reduction system so guess what guys no need to worry about cleaning your cameras all the time cos it does it for u lol. i have found that the sd cards can be very expensive especially when buying in major store but i brought mine online and only paid £10 for a 2g so not bad a really great camera would really recomend people to buy it as ive had so much fun with it wouldnt dream of buying anything else.

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            • Product Details

              The E-420 is the world's smallest digital SLR with all the features you need to take great pictures anywhere you go, every day. The innovative and unique Olympus Autofocus Live View function allows you to frame and focus your photos using the large 2.7-inch LCD as a viewfinder. The E-420's Scene Select Modes make you an instant expert - or switch to manual mode to expand your creative control. This feature-rich digital SLR also sports Shadow Adjustment Technology and Face Detection, both viewable in real time on the Live View LCD.