Olympus E-30 vs Sony A900
The Olympus E-30 and the Sony Alpha A900 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2008 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-30) and a full frame (A900) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-30 and the Sony Alpha A900? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-30 and the Sony A900 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A900 is notably larger (19 percent) than the Olympus E-30. Moreover, the A900 is markedly heavier (28 percent) than the E-30. It is noteworthy in this context that the A900 is splash and dust-proof, while the E-30 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|2.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|4.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|5.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|6.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|7.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|8.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|9.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|10.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|11.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|12.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|13.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|14.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|15.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|16.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|17.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-30 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 57 percent) than the A900, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-30 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A900 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A900 is 283 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the E-30 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A900 offers a 3:2 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 24.4MP, the A900 offers a higher resolution than the E-30 (12.2MP), but the A900 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.29μm for the E-30) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A900 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A900 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-30 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus E-30 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A900 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A900 offers substantially better image quality than the E-30 (overall score 24 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.4 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|2.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|4.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|5.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|6.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|7.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|8.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|9.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|10.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|11.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|12.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|13.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|14.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|16.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|17.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The E-30 and the A900 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the A900 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the E-30 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A900 has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.51x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-30, the Sony A900, and comparable cameras.
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|15.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-30 has one, while the A900 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-30 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The E-30 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the A900 does not have a selfie-screen.
The E-30 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the A900 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus E-30 and Sony Alpha A900 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A900 (unlike the E-30) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-30 and the A900 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A900 was replaced by the Sony A99, while the E-30 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-30 and the Sony A900? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-30:
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (142x108mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 194g or 22 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A900:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 44%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (24 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.51x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 750) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A900 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 6 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-30 and the Sony A900 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-30 and the A900 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Olympus E-30||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|2.||Sony A900||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|4.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|5.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|6.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|7.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|8.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|9.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|10.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|11.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|12.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|13.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|14.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|15.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|16.||Sony A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|17.||Sony A850||3/5||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Olympus E-30 vs Sony A900
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Olympus E-30||Sony A900|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2008||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 2,999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-30||Sony A900|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III+||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||55||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.3||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||530||1431|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-30||Sony A900|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-30||Sony A900|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||CF or MS cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-30||Sony A900|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-30||Sony A900|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
142 x 108 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.3 x 3.0 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||701 g (24.7 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.