Compared to...

As with the majority of our studio image quality comparisons we selected the nearest competition by category, specification, price and feature set. In this case the Olympus E-420 goes up against Nikon's compact ten megapixel D60 and the Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi) - a more expensive camera, and one with a couple more megapixels, but (until the EOS 1000D starts to ship), currently Canon's 'entry level' SLR. We have also included a comparison with the E-420's predecessor, the E-410.

Lenses used

For direct comparisons we always use sharp prime lenses stopped down, typically to F9 for 35 mm lenses and F6.3 for Four Thirds lenses. Here we have used the Nikon 50 mm F1.8 (it's sharper than the F1.4 at F9), Olympus 50 mm F2.0 Macro, and Canon EF 50 mm F1.4.

Studio scene comparison (Noise filter on / off)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Olympus E-420 (default) vs. Olympus E-420 (NF Off)

Camera settings:

  • Olympus E-420: Olympus 50 mm F2.0 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    JPEG Large/SHQ, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Anti-shock 2 sec
Olympus E-420
Olympus E-420 (NF Off)
6,102 KB JPEG (3648 x 2736)
6,810 KB JPEG (3648 x 2736)

The crops above demonstrate that the Noise Filter setting makes little if any visible difference to the E-420's image output at base ISO. On the E-410, the E-420's predecessor, things were very different. The E-410 applied very heavy noise reduction and sharpening (to counteract the noise blurring) at default settings. In our review of the E-410 we found that best results could be achieved by switching the noise filter off and reducing sharpening to -2 (otherwise you'd end up with an oversharpened image).