Sony DSC-S70 vs. Olympus C-3030Z vs. Nikon Coolpix 990

It seems overly simplistic to compare the Sony DSC-S70, Nikon Coolpix 990 and Olympus C-3030Z, yet they are the cameras seen to be at the top of the "prosumer digital camera" buyers list and thus they are often compared. This year will be quite different, with more quality 3+ megapixel digital cameras coming out from a larger selection of manufacturers I personally wouldn't limit yourself to looking at just these cameras.

Below I've listed features which we can back up with facts and how they rate "In My Honest Opinion". You'll have to go down this list, decide what is important to you if you wish to use it to help your purchase decision. If a feature is a matter of preference then I've not chosen a "better option".

Feature Nikon Coolpix 990
Olympus C-3030Z Sony DSC-S70
Build Quality Best Good Good
Street Price $900 $900 $800
Sharpness Equal Slightly Sharper
Resolution Equal Slightly higher resolution
Noise Equal
Colour saturation Natural but conservative Accurate Vivid but sometimes unnatural
Chromatic Aberrations Average Poor Little
Barrel Distortion Equal
Zoom range 38mm - 115mm 32mm - 96mm 34mm - 102mm
Optics F2.5 - F4.0 F2.8 F2.0 - F2.5
AF Better, five area AF    
Full-time AF Yes, equal None
Focus Confirmation "Sharpness" display
in AF & MF
Magnifying loupe, MF only None
Metering Matrix, CW, Spot CW, Spot CW, Spot
White Balance Preset Yes No "Hold"
White Balance Fine Tuning Yes No No
Shutter Lag Equal Slower
Operation speed Good though limited to
4 images @ NORMAL
Excellent, up to 29 images @ HQ Slow
Remote Control Optional Wired Supplied Infrared None
Movie mode QuickTime (no audio) QuickTime (with audio) MPEG (with audio)
Audio Annotations No Yes Yes
External Flash Yes (equal, all proprietary)
Flash Anti Redeye Poor Better (equal)
Flash output power control Equal
Macro 20mm / 0.8" 58mm / 2.3" 40mm / 1.5"
Flexible program exposure Yes No No
Shutter priority BULB, 16 s - 1/1000 s (14 pos) 1 s - 1/800 s
(30 pos)
8 s - 1/1000 s
(19 pos)
Aperture priority W: F2.5 - F7.0 (10 pos)
T: F4.0 - F11.0 (10 pos)
F2.8 - F11 (13 pos) F2.0 - F8.0 (9 pos)
(limited by 1/30s shutter)
Full Manual mode 16 s - 1/1000 s (14 pos)
16 s - 1/800 s (42 pos) No
Bracketing Yes, equal No
AE Lock Yes Panorama mode No
Continuous mode 9 @ 1.6fps @ 2048 x 1536
(with more burst modes)
5 @ 3.9fps @ 2048 x 1536 None
Sharpening control Equal
Exposure compensation Equal (+/-2EV in 0.3 EV steps)
ISO Sensitivity Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 (equal) Auto (100 - 300)
Uncompressed mode TIFF (equal)
JPEG modes 3 (Fine, Normal, Basic) 3 (SHQ, HQ, SQ) 1
Other modes     2 Colour GIF
Information display Better (top LCD)    
Playback display Better (faster, histogram)   Slow
Picture Filters Contrast, Brightness, B&W B&W, Sepia, Black & White board B&W, Sepia, Solarize, Negative
Power-on settings Multiple user settings Forgets settings :(  
Battery Life Equal (4 x AA batteries) Excellent, InfoLithium
Bundle Both missing batteries, charger and case Good, includes battery and adapter/charger, no case
Portability   Smaller & Lighter (equal)
Usability Split body Fixed body
Ergonomics Command wheel, control layout    
Tripod mount Better (rubber base)    
Connectivity USB (equal)
Storage 256MB+ on a CF card Limited to
64MB Smart Media
Limited to
64MB Memory Sticks
Other features Best Shot Selection Movie editing Night Shot long exp.
Review Nikon Coolpix 990 review Olympus C-3030Z review Sony DSC-S70 review