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Olympus E-420 review: Olympus E-420

The Good Size; controls and interface; classy feel.

The Bad Slow live view AF; smaller sensor than rivals.

The Bottom Line The E-420 is beautiful but flawed. The controls, the design and the more advanced photographic features are excellent, but it relies on its above-average lens rather than its below-average sensor to keep up with its rivals. Despite the gripes, though, its sheer class as a camera shines through

7.5 Overall

The E-420 is an upgrade of the E-410, boasting a larger, better, 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD, improved autofocus in live view mode, face detection and slightly faster continuous shooting. It's Olympus' entry-level dSLR, slotting in just below the E-520, and tested here with the usual 14-42mm kit lens. It's available now for around £330.

Olympus claims the E-420 is the world's smallest and lightest digital SLR, and this is pretty obvious when you put it side-by-side with its rivals. The body's smaller than even the Nikon D60's, and the 14-42mm kit lens on the Olympus is way shorter than the rest. And if you buy it with Olympus's new 25mm f2.8 'pancake' lens, you could even slide the E-420 into a jacket pocket.

And it's such a sweet little camera to use. The live view activates with a delicate little 'snick' rather than the thumps and clanks you get on other dSLRs. That's because Olympus' Four Thirds system uses a smaller and lighter sensor/shutter/mirror assembly. You get a live histogram too, so it's easy to get the exposure spot-on.

The E-420's far from being a cute little toy, though. There's more here for keen photographers than you'd expect on an entry-level camera. For example, two additional spot metering modes ('HI' and 'SH') make it easy to set your exposure for the lightest and darkest parts of the scene respectively, and the exposure compensation control offers 5EV compensation rather than the usual 2EV.

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