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Olympus E420 – My second thousand pictures

December 29, 2008

It’s been a bit since I posted my first 1000 image review of the Olympus E420.  I’ve now taken 2000 images and thought I’d share a few more thoughts.  I’m still shooting JPEG only.  Just as with my last review, these are my experiences and I am a self proclaimed beginner when it comes to photography.    That said, I’ve come a long way in learning this little camera.

First, a brief recap on why I bought the E420.   I intentionally bought the Olympus E420 because of its diminutive size and its long list of features.  My point and shoot that I carried with me every where failed miserably and my 1st generation digital DSLR (Canon) also broke down.    The Olympus had the best combination of size, features, interchangeability and performance.

LIKES:

  • Size – I carry it with me everywhere.
  • Performance – The menu system is great.  I love the quick menu and the ability to adjust almost any setting on the camera.  It’s fast and easy to navigate.
  • Image Quality – I’ve taken some very, very good pictures with this camera.   For the pros and self proclaimed pros, it certainly won’t rival a full frame DSLR from Nikon or Canon, but at less than $500 for a complete camera kit, I wouldn’t expect it too.
  • Zuiko Lenses – These are premium lenses.   The basic kit lenses are nothing to clamor about, but the high quality lenses are outstanding.
  • Depth of field – I’m amazed at how much improved the depth of field is when compared to a point and shoot.
  • Good battery life.   I can’t believe what I lived with with my old DSLR and my old point and shoot.

DISLIKES

  • No IS (Image stabilization) – This is a key frustration at low light.   I always like to shoot at ISO 100 or 200, but at low light even with a bright lens, I need to bump ISO setting up so I don’t get camera shake.  I have a feeling that Olympus is already working on this for the next generation 400 series due the release of the new Panasonic G1.
  • Has trouble focusing in low light.   There is a setting that uses the flash for focusing, but it is tazer like in execution and is so annoying that I can’t use it.   If you were shooting people, you’d put the fear of God in them and your pictures would reflect that.
  • 25mm fixed pancake lens is limiting/restricting.
  • Even though it is small, it is still a DSLR.   As such, people respond differently and I’ve found candid shots are more difficult with this camera than with my silent and small pocket point & shoot.

The dislikes are pretty big for some folks.  I knew this going into it and bought it anyway.  I’ve been asked why I didn’t buy a Panasonic G1 instead since it is essentially a very similar camera that does have IS.   Well, honestly given a free do over, I still wouldn’t buy the Panasonic although I like the sexy red camera body.   The G1 does have IS, but it just doesn’t have the lens support and quality of the Zuiko lenses.   I might consider doing an Olympus E520 instead, but for me I still think the E420 is closer to the camera I  need for how I intend to use a camera.

Looking back at my last review, I complained that I didn’t like how the camera didn’t save my settings once I got them dialed and turned the camera off.  Well, that is only on the auto setting.  I primarily shoot in Aperture Priority or full manual and my settings hold when I turn the camera on and off.  I’ve also stopped turning the camera off unless I’m travelling or not planning on using the camera for several hours.

WHAT WOULD MAKE IT BETTER?

  • Weather proofing.  I wish that every camera with weather proofing didn’t weigh a ton and was not considerably larger.   I just would like the extra security of weather proofing because of some of the conditions I expose this camera.
  • Image stabilization.
  • No noise option for focusing and shutter release.

MY SHOOTING PREFERENCES:

  • I pretty much shoot in A (Aperture Priority).  I just like to control the depth of field.
  • When shooting in monotone (B&W) – I run the contrast +1
  • I generally don’t shoot with the flash, due to the inability to  control it.

WHAT’S NEXT:

  • Zoom lens.
  • External flash
  • RAW – I’m still researching RAW conversion software.  Until then, I’m just going to continue to learn the camera and shoot JPEG.

As you can see, I’m still very smitten with this camera.  It is a great little camera and thus far.  With that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite images.  I took this picture of my boy while crammed in an elevator.

When is this ride over?

When is this ride over?

Oh, and check out GNATLIKESPICTURES for more shots from the E420.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    January 10, 2009 1:09 am

    Is it cool to ask a question here?

    The e420 is suposed to have “DIGITAL IMAGE STABILIZATION”. Have you used it and desided you don’t like it? I ask because you say you wish it had image stabilization…

    I have the first gen Canon Rebel 300. It’s been good, but I love the look of the e420 and e520.

  2. Gnat permalink*
    January 10, 2009 2:30 pm

    John, thanks for the comment and asking the question.

    The E420 does have a digital image stabilization. The details here though is that when turned on it simply raises the ISO setting, so in reality you are getting a lower quality image. They can still be very good depending on what your needs are.

    When I read the reviews and read about people talking about this, it comes down to this for me. In most cases, I am using my images for me, for my family and on my blogs. With that, the e420 far surpasses my expectations. If I were in the business of selling images and my career depended on it, I’d want real IS functionality because it is easier to take good images with a real IS system. It also assists in night time shooting.

    For me, size of camera outweighed my need for true non digital IS. If size isn’t that much of a concern for you, I would recommend the E520. My coworker has one and it is a wonderful camera.

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