Deciding between Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Sony A7,A7ii,A7R,A7S

Discussion in 'What Camera Should I Buy?' started by Wanderlust, Jan 22, 2015.

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  1. Wanderlust

    Wanderlust New Member

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    * What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible.
    I'd like to stick to 3,000-3,500 for the body with at least 2 lenses. This would leave me room to buy good accessories (eg. tripod, memory cards, extra batteries). My total budget will be 5,000 though.


    * What size camera are you looking for? Or does size not matter at all to you?
    Definitely a mirrorless camera. I am going for portability.


    How many megapixels will suffice for you?
    I have concerns about the A7S' low megapixel count, but I'm not concerned about it if the camera can take the pictures I like most.

    * What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x)
    I want the option of a good zoom on occasion since I'd like to be able to use this at baseball games.

    * How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)
    10. I'm making an investment here and would rather not have to replace anything for a long time.

    Do you care for manual exposure modes (shutter priority, aperture priority, manual)?
    I want a camera I can grow into since I'm still a relative beginner so whatever is best long term.

    General Usage

    * What will you generally use the camera for?
    It will be used most to bring on hikes. Mountain Ranges, Skylines, Reflections off bodies of water, stars, sunrises, and sunsets.

    * Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?
    If I take an awesome picture that I want to hang up, then yes.

    Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?
    Not many indoor photos, but definitely low light outdoor photos.

    Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?
    On occasion, but mostly outdoors and nature stuff.


    Are there particular brands you like or hate?
    Love Olympus and the durability of them, but I've heard great things about Sony.

    (If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)
    Weatherproofing is very important, but not a deal breaker if the camera can't take the shots I want. Wide Angle is also important for taking landscape shots.
  2. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    For that kind of money you have a lot of options.
    That will limit you to a degree but there are plenty of excellent cameras available.
    Don't worry about megapixels.
    You're going to need a good long zoom lens which, fortunately, you have budgeted for. Keep in mind that this will increase the overall size and bulk of your camera.
    The cameras you're considering all have excellent image quality.
    All the cameras you're looking at have those modes.

    All the cameras on your list are environmentally sealed, dust, splash and freeze resistant. But they will suffer damage if dropped. Also, the cameras weigh close to a pound so, even though they are lighter weight than many DSLR's they are not an insignificant weight to carry over a long distance.
    The Olympus OM-D EM-1 has a 4/3 sensor, which is much smaller than the full frame sensors in the Sony Alpha A7's. Consequently, the image quality of the Olympus is not quite as good as that in the Sony's, especially in low light, though it is still excellent. The Sony's also have superior video quality compared to the Olympus, especially the Alpha A7s. The Olympus is more expensive than the Alpha A7 and A7II (though the A7R and A7S are even more expensive than the Olympus). So it seems like the Alpha A7 series, especially the relatively inexpensive A7, gives you a lot more for your money than the OM-D EM-1.

    On the other hand the Sony's lenses are larger, heavier and more expensive (full frame lenses compared to micro 4/3 lenses). I suggest you check out the cost of the lenses you want before making a decision. You might find this changes the price differential significantly. Also, considering what you intend to shoot most of the time - outdoors in good light and little interest in video - the Olympus might be the better camera for you.

    Here are some sample images from the OM-D EM-1 and the Alpha A7. Both camera produce super images. em-1 olympus&sort=interestingness-desc alpha a7&sort=interestingness-desc
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015
  3. KCook

    KCook Well-Known Member

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    If you want to do this zooming without changing lenses, the smaller sensor (4/3 here) always has the advantage. While it is possible to make high zoom lenses for full frame they turn out to be very bulky and heavy, not optimum for portability.

    The M1 can certainly provide this. Especially if you don't crop a lot and are not trying to pull a lot out of the shadows. Instead of reading opinions by pixel peepers download a few full resolution images from a M1 review.

    Oly currently has the wide angle advantage over Sony due to the maturity of their lens lineup. 10 years from now the Sony line might pull ahead for WA lenses, hard to predict. The best deals these days for wide angle are with Canon and Nikon APS-C bodies. However the weatherized models for Canon and Nikon will not be as compact as the Sony A7.

    This is a pretty specialized area, usually accomplished with HDR (blending 2 or more images with very different exposures). The native DR of the sensor will determine precisely how far a single exposure can be pushed. But HDR is still the better approach. Done right, HDR will require a very good (expensive or heavy) tripod.

    For serious treks the light weight of the Olympus lenses should be a key consideration. With the A7 I would expect to pack fewer lenses, or have somebody else carry that gear!

    The A7 would be the killer choice for creative portraits, when/if your interests ever took that turn.

    Kelly Cook
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