In case you were worried that digital SLRs would remain priced higher than point-and-shoots, Olympus is breaking down the US$500 barrier with its, well, US$499.99 E-420. (Kinda makes you feel like sparkin' a doobie, don't it?) Sure, it'll cost you an extra hundred to get a 14-42mm starter lens, but this is the beginning of the truly affordable DSLR. That's not the only thing Olympus is excited about though: the 380 gram E-420 is up to 40% lighter than other DSLRs in its class, and is being declared the "world's smallest digital SLR" by its maker. All that while retaining Live View, a 10-megapixel sensor and a 2.7" LCD. We can't wait to try it out. Jump for press release and chart of freakishly detailed specs. Just one question, Olympus: What happened to the Evolt brand?
AU: Pricing is yet to be announced for Australia, but you can expect to see it on shelves in May.
OLYMPUS E-420: WORLD'S SMALLEST AND LIGHTEST CONSUMER DIGITAL SLR DELIVERS ENHANCED AUTOFOCUS LIVE VIEW
Compact Size Makes It the Ultimate DSLR to Take Anywhere,
Next-Generation Live View Ensures It Performs Better When You Get There
CENTER VALLEY, Pa., March 5, 2008 - Olympus today announces the extremely portable E-420 - perfect for everyone who wants to step up to the power and performance of a digital SLR (single lens reflex) yet enjoy the ease of use and ability to compose images on the LCD common to point-and-shoot cameras. Weighing a mere 380 grams (13.4 ounces), the E-420 is 20 to 40 percent lighter than competing DSLRs. Good things come in this small package, including Live View, which enables users to hold the camera away from their faces and interact with their subjects - ideal when capturing photos of children, for example.
This lightweight 10-megapixel DSLR offers heavyweight technologies, including a bigger, more viewable 2.7-inch LCD and consumer-friendly fast On-Screen Autofocus, Face Detection, Shadow Adjustment Technology and Perfect Shot Preview to get the most out of the Live View experience. Additionally, when it comes to Live View, not all LCDs are created equal. At 2.7-inches, the portable E-420 LCD is large enough for users to compose and review images without squinting. The small camera's LCD is not just larger, it is part of a camera with technologies intelligent enough to take advantage of the Live View photography experience. These innovative technologies include:
• On-Screen Autofocus works as seamlessly as a point-and-shoot to display subjects in focus on the LCD the instant the shutter is pressed half way;
• Face Detection Technology targets and locks on up to eight faces to ensure they are in focus and crystal clear for amazing portraits;
• New and Improved HyperCrystal II™ Technology delivers twice the contrast and better viewing in extreme lighting conditions, a broader range of color detail, and a wider angle of view on the LCD so you and your friends can see it up to 176 degrees off-center;
• Shadow Adjustment Technology captures detail in the bright areas of a frame and opens up detail in the shadows that other cameras would render too dark or underexposed; and
• Perfect Shot Preview enables you to view and select your favorite effect right on the LCD, and see how the image will look before you even capture it, so you know that what you see is what you get.
"The Olympus E-420 delivers the professional-grade image quality of a digital SLR with the simple operation of a point-and-shoot camera," said John Knaur, senior marketing manager - DSLR, Olympus Imaging America Inc. "Thanks to the camera's small size and lightweight body, users can take the E-420 everywhere, and they will never miss another shot because the of the camera's straightforward controls. Additionally, our innovative technologies help consumers get more from Live View."
World's Smallest Digital SLR
A camera designed to be held away from the face lets you take great photographs without weighing you down. The E-420 is small enough to fit into a purse or a jacket pocket and light enough to shoot with comfortably all day. Measuring 5.1 inches by 3.6 inches by 2.1 inches (excluding protrusions), it is the world's smallest digital SLR. And at a featherweight 13.4 ounces, only its predecessor (E-410) weighs less. The E-420's new ergonomic grip on the front of the body allows for easier one-handed operation and ensures a secure hold in the most challenging shooting conditions.
One of the World's Thinnest Lenses Meets the World's Most Compact DSLR
The world's smallest DSLR deserves a similarly compact lens, and Olympus has it: the ultra compact Zuiko 25mm f2.8 digital specific lens. This 0.9 inch-thick lens offers a fixed 50mm equivalent angle of view. Together with the E-420, the Zuiko 25mm f2.8 lens will offer the ultimate combination of ease of use and portability.
Photographers can also purchase the E-420 in a kit with a compact, Zuiko Digital 28-84mm equivalent (ED 14-42mm Four Thirds) f3.5-f5.6 lens that perfectly matches the imager so light strikes the sensor directly to ensure rich, accurate colors and edge-to-edge sharpness. Both lenses (Zuiko 25mm f2.8 and 28-84mm f3.5-f5.6) are part Olympus' expanding line of 100 percent digital lenses - designed specifically for digital photography. Unlike other camera companies, Olympus does not rely on old film lenses, which often result in images with soft edges or other imperfections.
The Live View Experience
Olympus was the first to bring Live View to a consumer DSLR (the E-330 in 2006), and Live View has revolutionized DSLR photography. Anyone who has photographed young children knows that you get the best reactions when you hold the camera away from your face and maintain eye contact and an engaging smile. If you have tried to take photos high above the heads in a crowd or low near the ground, you will appreciate that it is easier to use a swivel LCD screen than to climb a ladder or lie on your stomach.
The E-420 solves these problems with its Live View LCD, which enables photographers to hold the camera away from their faces and at angles they just cannot reach by using the optical viewfinder alone. The E-420's new Live View autofocus functionality now simplifies the process by working just like a point and shoot. By simply pressing the shutter button halfway, your subjects come into focus on the LCD, so when the perfect moment occurs it is easy to capture sharp images.
A viewable LCD is where a great Live View experience begins. Few things are more annoying for a photographer than squinting to see an image on an LCD screen in bright sunlight or a dimly lit room. The E-420 solves this problem with its large, bright 2.7-inch LCD display that incorporates new HyperCrystal II technology. This display offers twice the contrast for better viewing in extreme light conditions (i.e. when the sun is at your back), a broader color gamut that displays a greater range of color detail, and a 176-degree viewing angle.
Always Find a Face in the Crowd
A camera this consumer-friendly is perfect for taking portraits of friends and family while out and about. The E-420's Face Detection feature distinguishes between people's faces and the background. It tracks up to eight faces within the image area and automatically focuses and optimizes exposure for sharp, brilliant portrait pictures. Even if your subjects are moving, the camera continuously tracks their faces.
Bright Day or Deep Shadow, Never Miss a Detail
Shooting scenes with shadows can be tricky because of the extreme contrast between dark and bright areas. The E-420 addresses this challenge with Shadow Adjustment Technology that compensates for extreme contrast when shadow areas are underexposed and lack visible detail. Now users can preview and capture images with the same fine contrast they see with their own eyes.
Preview All the Possibilities
With 18 pre-set scene-select modes for every imaginable shooting scenario and full manual controls, the E-420 offers a world of possibilities to photographers. Additionally, Perfect Shot Preview enables users to preview and select various photographic effects on a live, multi-window screen on the LCD before snapping the shot. This feature shows photographers what their images will look like beforehand under various settings, ensuring that they capture exactly what they want. It is an ideal way for novice users to learn about the effects of different photography techniques, such as exposure compensation, white balance and metering.
Enlarge Your Photos
Capturing, enlarging and displaying amazing images on your wall is a snap thanks to the E-420's 10 million pixels for high-resolution photos. The 10-megapixel sensor gives users the flexibility to enlarge prints to the sizes supported by many of today's printers, or crop the image to print only a part of the image that is important to them. T he high-performance Live MOS image sensor in the E-420 delivers excellent dynamic range for accurate color fidelity and a new state-of-the-art amplifier circuit dramatically reduces noise and captures fine image details in the highlight and shadow areas.
Improved Auto White Balance
Many digital SLR users want to focus their attention on things other than white balance while they are on the move. As a result, the E-420 features an improved automatic white balance performance with a new algorithm for more accurate color.
TruePic III for Image Clarity & Speed
Olympus' TruePic III Image Processor produces crystal clear photos using all the pixel information for each image to provide the best digital images possible for every photo with accurate color, true-to-life flesh tones, brilliant blue skies and precise tonal representation in between. TruePic III also lowers image noise by one step to reduce graininess in images shot at higher ISO settings, enabling great results in low-light situations.
Worried about missing the winning goal at the soccer game? The image processor on the E-420 enables it to shoot up to 3.5 frames per second in sequenced shooting mode, which means that photographers will be able to capture fast-paced action as it happens.
Dust Reduction System for Spot-Free Images
Life moves too fast to spend time worrying about dust ruining your images. Olympus' proven Dust Reduction System produces spot-free photos with the exclusive Supersonic Wave Filter™. The patented ultrasonic technology vibrates to remove dust and other particles from the front of the image sensor and captures it on a special adhesive membrane every time the camera is turned on. These spot-free photos liberate users from hours spent retouching photographs at the computer or sending their cameras back to the manufacturer to remove dust trapped inside.
Accepting both CompactFlash Type I & II, Microdrives, and xD-Picture Cards, the E-420 provides a choice of data storage options for enhanced flexibility, and it is possible to transfer image files from one card to the other right inside the camera.
Wireless Flash Capability
If you decide to venture into the arena of advanced lighting, the E-420 is ready to meet the challenge. The E-420 is compatible with the Olympus FL-50R and FL-36R wireless electronic flashes that are designed exclusively for digital photography. When these flashes are used in combination with the E-420, wireless multi-flash photography is possible. The E-420 can control up to three wireless flash groups independently, with several flash units per group.
The Olympus E-420 Digital SLR will be available in May 2008. It includes: E-420 Body, USB Cable, Video Cable, Li-Ion Battery Pack (BLS-1), Li-Ion Battery Charger (BCS-1), Shoulder Strap, OLYMPUS Master Software CD-ROM, Manuals and Warranty Card.
U.S. Pricing / Product Configurations
E-420 body Estimated Street Price: $499.99
E-420 with ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens Estimated Street Price: $599.99
E-420 with ED 25mm f2.8 Zuiko Digital Lens Estimated Street Price: $699.99