Olympus E-5 vs Sony A99 II
The Olympus E-5 and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and September 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-5) and a full frame (A99 II) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Olympus E-5||Sony A99 II|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Four Thirds lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||42.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|720/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-6,400||ISO 100-25,600|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 920k dots||3.0 LCD, 1229k dots|
|Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)|
|5 shutter flaps per second||12 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|750 shots per battery charge||490 shots per battery charge|
|142 x 117 x 75 mm, 873 g||143 x 104 x 76 mm, 849 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-5 and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II? 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-5 and the Sony A99 II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. 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 A99 II is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Olympus E-5. Moreover, the A99 II is slightly lighter (3 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 would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 E-5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 47 percent) than the A99 II, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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 A99 II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A99 II 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-5 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A99 II offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 42.2MP, the A99 II offers a higher resolution than the E-5 (12.2MP), but the A99 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 4.29μm for the E-5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A99 II is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the E-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A99 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A99 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A99 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inches or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inches or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inches or 67.3 x 44.9 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 A99 II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Olympus E-5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 A99 II offers substantially better image quality than the E-5 (overall score 36 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.8 bits higher color depth, 2.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.2 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.
|Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A99 II provides a better video resolution than the E-5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, 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 A99 II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 A99 II has a higher magnification than the one of the E-5 (0.78x 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 A99 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-5 has one, while the A99 II does not. While the built-in flash of the E-5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
The E-5 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the A99 II uses SDXC 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-5 and Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A99 II offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-5 does not provide wifi capability.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The A99 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the E-5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the E-5 from Olympus. 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 A99 II or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-5:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 490) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (47 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2010).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 90%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (36 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.58x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 920k dots).
- 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.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the E-5 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A99 II is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 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-5 and the Sony A99 II 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-5 and the A99 II in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Olympus E-5||..||75/100||4/5||..||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|Sony A99 II||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Canon 5DS||+||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 60D||+||79/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Olympus E-P3||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus E-450||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||o||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-3||88/100||+ +||o||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|Sony A7R III||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A99||..||84/100||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony A77||91/100||81/100||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Sony A900||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 5DS R vs Sony A99 II
- Canon Rebel vs Sony A99 II
- Canon T6s vs Olympus E-5
- Leica D-LUX 6 vs Sony A99 II
- Leica S Typ 006 vs Sony A99 II
- Nikon D5500 vs Sony A99 II
- Olympus E-5 vs Sony A7R III
- Olympus E-M5 III vs Sony A99 II
- Panasonic GF2 vs Sony A99 II
- Pentax Q vs Sony A99 II
- Sony A6100 vs Sony A99 II
- Sony A99 II vs Sony RX100 V
Specifications: Olympus E-5 vs Sony A99 II
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 A99 II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2010||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 3,199|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A99 II|
|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||42.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||7952 x 5304 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||4.90 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic V+||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||92|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.6||25.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.5||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||519||2317|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A99 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k 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||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A99 II|
|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||300 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A99 II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-5||Sony A99 II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||490 shots per charge|
142 x 117 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
143 x 104 x 76 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||873 g (30.8 oz)||849 g (29.9 oz)|
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