The camera's metering system includes Olympus 49-segment Digital ESP metering, along with centre weighted average and two percent spot metering. Like other recent Olympus models there's also Shadow Spot and Highlight Spot metering, which reduce or boost the exposure respectively when shooting very light or very dark scenes. A new addition is the Shadow Adjustment Technology, which automatically adjusts the tonal curves in an image to maintain shadow and highlight detail. Confusingly this is found in the Gradation sub menu, using the new Auto setting. Previous models just had a high key, low key and normal setting.
Alongside the controllable auto exposure modes - Program AE, Shutter Priority AE and Aperture Priority AE - and Manual mode, the camera offers Auto shooting for complete beginners, as well as 18 scene modes, with examples of the type of scene pictured on the LCD. The most common scene modes of portrait, landscape, action, macro and night scene are all selected on the top plate dial along with the more advanced exposure modes.
A new headline feature is the Perfect Shot Preview. An instruction manual wasn't supplied with the camera, but this appears to work by using Live View alongside the Scene modes or colour modes, with the effect of the mode visible on the LCD before you shoot.
In keeping with the other cameras in the range, the E-420 has the SuperSonicWave Filter, which blasts the sensor with high-frequency sound waves at start up and shut down to clear any debris that may have affixed itself to the sensor surface.
Olympus claims to have improved the white balance algorithm for more accurate auto white balance and of course a number of manual presets are included to cover common lighting conditions. It also keeps the TruePic III processor of its immediate forebear (and other recent models), though burst speed has now been improved from 3fps to 3.5fps.