Olympus E-5 vs Sony A77
The Olympus E-5 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2010 and August 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-5) and an APS-C (A77) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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-5 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-5 and the Sony A77. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions 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 A77 is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Olympus E-5. Moreover, the A77 is markedly lighter (16 percent) than the E-5. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|2.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|3.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|4.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|5.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|6.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|7.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|8.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|9.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|10.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|11.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|12.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|13.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|14.||Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|15.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||647 g||480||Y||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The A77 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the E-5, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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-5 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A77 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A77 is 63 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-5 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A77 offers a 3:2 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 24MP, the A77 offers a higher resolution than the E-5 (12.2MP), but the A77 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.29μm for the E-5). Yet, the A77 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the E-5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A77 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A77 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-5 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-5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A77 offers substantially better image quality than the E-5 (overall score 22 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.4 bits higher color depth, 2.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|3.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|4.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|5.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|6.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|7.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|8.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|9.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|10.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|11.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|12.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|16.||Sony A77 II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A77 provides a better video resolution than the E-5. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A77 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the E-5 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the A77 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-5 (0.73x vs 0.58x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-5 and Sony A77 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|15.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A77 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
The E-5 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the A77 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The E-5 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A77 only has one slot.
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-5 and Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|15.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A77 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A77 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The E-5 does not feature such a mic input.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A77 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the E-5 and the A77 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A77 was replaced by the Sony A77 II, while the E-5 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 how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-5 better than the Sony A77 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Olympus E-5:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 470) on a single battery charge.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2010).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A77:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 43%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (22 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 (2.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.58x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (143x104mm vs 142x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 141g or 16 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A77 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 4 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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-5 and the Sony A77 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-5 or the A77. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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-5||4/5||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|2.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|3.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|4.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|5.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|6.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|7.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|8.||Olympus E-30||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|9.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|10.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|11.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|12.||Olympus E-1||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|13.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|14.||Sony A6500||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|15.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Olympus E-5 vs Sony A77
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-5||Sony A77|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2010||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A77|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic V+||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.6||24.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.5||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||519||801|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A77|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A77|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A77|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A77|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
142 x 117 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
143 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||873 g (30.8 oz)||732 g (25.8 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.