My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7

Started Apr 18, 2012 | Discussions
lowincash
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My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
Apr 18, 2012

I received the E-M5 yesterday and have spent a good day with it so I thought I give my impression of this camera versus the NEX-7. I got the NEX-7 back in December and have used it for a few months before selling it for the E-M5.

In no particular order, I'll start:

Firstly, my hands aren't that big and the silver E-M5 fits fine in the hand with enough grip thanks to the rear thumb hook and the textured front padding. Also, since I don't use the neck strap, I've removed those triangle things and just used a simple wrist strap so nothing gets in the way. I did the same with the NEX-7 and must say that the NEX-7 feels 10X's better in the hand than the E-M5. Out of all the camera's I've owned in the past, the NEX-7 felt the best to hold. The hand just contours around the perfectly sized grip. I'm sure with the optional battery grip the E-M5 will handle much better but I don't plan on getting the grip.

The tri-navi dials on the NEX-7 was definitely very good and easy to use but I too often found myself turning the rear dial with the palm of my hand, changing the ISO. Also found myself often unintentionally turning the top right dial, which adjusts the EV. I'm glad the E-M5 has the regular navigation buttons on the back. I also found myself liking the two top dials too. Feels more natural in use, very similar to previous DSLR's that I've owned.

I love having the tilting screen and much prefer this than the articulating one that I used on the G3. I find the tilting screen on the NEX-7 much smoother to operate compared to the E-M5 which is a bit stiff. Next is the capacitive touch screen. I usually don't like touch screens but being able to focus and release the shutter by touching the screen is pretty awesome and somewhat handy to have. This was something I wished the NEX-7 had.

AF performance, I am very happy with the E-M5. The NEX-7 is not slow at all, just not as fast. As I've posted in other threads previously, I complained about the NEX-7's low light performance where, in a dimly lit restaurant, I wasn't able to lock focus at all and when I did, it focused on the background. Last night while I was at my friend's house showing him my camera, I tested out the AF performance. At the time, he only had the TV and a desk lamp on so there wasn't much light. I had the 45mm on the E-M5 and was able to lock focus pretty quickly on most of the subjects I pointed to, at times it will hunt back and forth a bit in those darker areas but was still able to lock focus. I'm impressed. I haven't tested out the continuous AF or tracking yet though.

One thing that annoyed me on the NEX-7 was the SD card location. It's in the battery compartment right up against the hinge where the lid opens and close. It was hard to get to and was very annoying at times. I'm very glad the SD card slow is on the side of the E-M5, much easier to access.

The E-M5 you can easily customize the settings to your liking. On the NEX-7, you cannot set the highest ISO setting for auto ISO (it's set to 1600) and the ISO settings do not have 1/3 increments. I'm glad I'm able to control this option on the E-M5.

When I had the NEX-7 I only used the Zeiss 24mm f1.8 lens since nothing else interested me. Due to the limited amount of fast native lenses, I started looking into legacy lenses. I do wish the E-M5 has the focus peaking feature that I found very helpful on the NEX-7. On the other hand, having the IBIS worked very well for me and I'm able to magnify the view without it jumping around. I'll just say that the IBIS is awesome! =] Works very well with the long legacy lenses.

24MP vs 16MP, hmm. For sure the 24MP captures a ton of details and it amazes me every time when I zoom in. The IQ is definitely better on the NEX-7 as it's seems more clear and sharp. However, I love the Oly colors a lot as I did with the E-P3. The Sony color's just a bit too artificial looking. I guess the warmer Oly colors are more soothing in a way haha For ISO performance, I can say that I'm happy with using 6400 with the E-M5 whereas I usually wouldn't go higher than 3200 on the NEX-7. I actually took a couple shots at night using 12800 and 25600 to see how they look and it's actually not that bad, I wouldn't use 25600 tho. Maybe would be okay if resized for web use and stuff. But I'm not a pixel peeping tom so I don't really care about 100% crops or test charts and stuff, and I don't crop any of the pics I take, I only resize them so I'm very happy with how the E-M5 performs.

Sorry for the long post, I'm sure I missed some stuff but can't think right now lol I'll just say that both cameras are awesome and both have their pros and cons. But for now, the E-M5 seems to fit most of my needs right now. I only wish I can afford both cameras =/

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Uncle Albert
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Thanks for the comparison! One reason I opted for the OM-D over the NEX-7 (though it might sound silly) is the stupid placement of the record button on the NEX-7. Since I rarely shoot video, I thought it was in a terrible position. Not only that, but from what I could tell it was not customizable!

Whatevs, Sony. I'm still waiting patiently for my silver OM-D which I've affectionately named The Silver Bullet.

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vincent filomena
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Thanks: Interesting report !

Vjim

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lowincash
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to Uncle Albert, Apr 18, 2012

Oh yeah, I've meant to write about that too but forgot lol Yeah the record button is in a bad place and can be easily activated. I've only accidentally hit it two or three times in the few months that I've had it. I've learned to hold it without my thumb being near it Funny thing was, when my friend first played with my camera, he was wondering why he can't take any pictures. Turned out he had pressed the record button while holding it lol

I'm glad you can have the option to turn off the movie button or assign it to do something else on the E-M5 =]

Uncle Albert wrote:

Thanks for the comparison! One reason I opted for the OM-D over the NEX-7 (though it might sound silly) is the stupid placement of the record button on the NEX-7. Since I rarely shoot video, I thought it was in a terrible position. Not only that, but from what I could tell it was not customizable!

Whatevs, Sony. I'm still waiting patiently for my silver OM-D which I've affectionately named The Silver Bullet.

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amalric
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Thank you. A v. interesting comparison, and it fit with what I read elsewhere.

Perhaps a more thorough investigation on IQ would be helpful when you'll be more familiar with the new camera. Due to noise the NEX 7 is rumoured to have no more resolution that the NEX 5n, so that would bring it within the realm of E-M5's IQ.

The NEX 7 made quite a splash among the landscapers for the obvious reasons, but possibly the E-M5 with a good 9-18, might even be better in terms of pixel sharpness. It will be interesting to see if this proposition hoilds.

A wealth of lenses, fast AF, and better UI would keep me in the m4/3 camp anyway, although I like very much the NEX 7 form factor.

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szlevi
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Great post, thanks.

I never owned either - disclosure: I have an OM-D on preorder - but spent reading a helluva lot about both + some friends have NEX-7 and NEX-5...

For starter: what's up with the video? The NEX simply shuts down after 15 or so minutes due to overheating when recording video and I that's a dealbreaker for anyone seeking a camera that's good enough to record kid's first stage performance in the school etc. Did you test video with the OMD-D?

That "stiff feeling" is most likely the weatherproofing - something NEX also sorely lacks.

FYI resolution != IQ so your comment about the IQ will likely stir a healthy debate.

You are also correct that those big, heavy lenses and the lack of selection are also painful on the NEX.

but I, for one, will take a very nice 16MP usable up to ISO 6400 over a 24MP which is practically limited to 1600 especially when it also lacks IBIS and weatherproofing.

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highwave
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Nice to see unbiased open minded reviewers here. They're just products in the end anyway.

And by all means, carry on, your comparison isn't lengthy at all and I'm reading through

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ywl
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Hi,

Thanks for the detail comparison of the two cameras. As a Nex 7 owner I have similar experience on the too loose back dial (accidentally changing ISO from auto to 100 or 200) etc. I use a sigma 19/2.8 for wide angle and some manual lens for standard and longer reach. I also have a Nex 5N with 18-200 lens for my wife to use for capturing mainly our kids' activities (many were held in door). The problem is she knows very little in photography and uses the 5N mainly like a point and shoot camera (I usually set it in iA mode for her). It often resulted in blurred images especially she likes to zoom to the far end to capture the kids (despite the IS of the lens). I am thinking of getting a EM-5 with a 14-150 lens if it works better than the N5 combination as a P&S camera. My question is whether the EM5 focuses better (faster) in this combination (14-150) Vs the 5N combination (18-200) and whether the in-body stabilization of EM5 is better than the IS of the sony lens. Thanks ahead for your expert opinion

YWL

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lowincash
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to ywl, Apr 18, 2012

I also had the 18-200 (tamron) very briefly but hardly used it that's why I sold it. The IS on the tamron 18-200 is pretty good, I've always liked tamron's IS, it seems to grab hold onto the subject pretty well. I'm not sure about the 14-150 lens though, but I did purchase the 40-150mm lens and should be here in a couple of days. I'll post up my impression on that lens =] So far I've only tested my 135mm f2.8 Minolta lens and the IBIS worked flawlessly. At first I couldn't figure out why it won't stay steady but then I noticed I had to set the focal length and then after that it worked beautifully I'm looking forward to trying out the 40-150mm lens though.

ywl wrote:

Hi,

Thanks for the detail comparison of the two cameras. As a Nex 7 owner I have similar experience on the too loose back dial (accidentally changing ISO from auto to 100 or 200) etc. I use a sigma 19/2.8 for wide angle and some manual lens for standard and longer reach. I also have a Nex 5N with 18-200 lens for my wife to use for capturing mainly our kids' activities (many were held in door). The problem is she knows very little in photography and uses the 5N mainly like a point and shoot camera (I usually set it in iA mode for her). It often resulted in blurred images especially she likes to zoom to the far end to capture the kids (despite the IS of the lens). I am thinking of getting a EM-5 with a 14-150 lens if it works better than the N5 combination as a P&S camera. My question is whether the EM5 focuses better (faster) in this combination (14-150) Vs the 5N combination (18-200) and whether the in-body stabilization of EM5 is better than the IS of the sony lens. Thanks ahead for your expert opinion

YWL

But yeah, I'm no pro and I'm only shooting for fun. Most of the pictures I take are just to share with family and friends and most of them don't really care about the IQ lol I on the other hand do care but not to the point where I'm nitpicking every little pixel that shows. I also think I just like having new toys once in a while =/

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ywl
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Thanks a lot for the quick response. Firstly I think I have made a mistake about the lens. It should be 14-140 instead of 14-150. It sounds that the IBIS of EM5 is great and I may try it on my manual lens as well (one of them is a canon 135/3.5 which works quite well with peaking on Nex7. Like to know your impression of the 40-150 as soon as you get it. Have fun

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Louis_Dobson
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to szlevi, Apr 18, 2012

szlevi wrote:

FYI resolution != IQ so your comment about the IQ will likely stir a healthy debate.

Well quite! Since everyone else is being so positive, I hope I can be rather less so without sounding mean...

I think the technical differences are pretty small but the user differences are big, and hence lowincash is seeing "incorrect" differences. 16 to 24MP is a very small margin, the lens used will be far more important. Also by default the Oly lards on the NR (and backs it up with heavy sharpening), something that is easily turned off. I suspect this might be why he is seeing "better IQ" for the Sony (whereas any number of samples show any difference as pretty much invisible) but better noise at high ISO for the Oly (a result that conflicts with every sample). Likewise, although the Oly AF tests as both faster and happier to work in low light, one really has to test them on a tripod under the same circs, a comment that one focused in a room with the TV on better than another in a restaurant is not terribly meaningful ...

So thanks for the "how it feels to use" stuff, but I think the IQ stuff is ill-considered, and people who know no better will read it and go away thinking the Sony has better res and worse noise performance because they read it on the web, and these things, I think, are most unlikely to be true, and I would hate anyone to make buying decisions based on them.

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lowincash
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to Louis_Dobson, Apr 18, 2012

Like I said, I'm no pro and not really into all the technicality tests and stuff. But I understand what you mean. However the room with the tv and desk lamp was darker than the dim restaurant, that's why I was so impressed with the AF. I'll have to play around with the setting more to get it to my liking. At least there's the option to turn off NR whereas the NEX did not haha

Louis_Dobson wrote:

szlevi wrote:

FYI resolution != IQ so your comment about the IQ will likely stir a healthy debate.

Well quite! Since everyone else is being so positive, I hope I can be rather less so without sounding mean...

I think the technical differences are pretty small but the user differences are big, and hence you are seeing "incorrect" differences. 16 to 24MP is a very small difference, the lens you use will be far more important. Also by default the Oly lards on the NR (and backs it up with heavy sharpening), something that is easily turned off. I suspect this might be why you are seeing "better IQ" for the Sony (whereas any number of samples show any difference as pretty much invisible) but better noise at high ISO for the Oly (a result that conflicts with every sample). Likewise, although the Oly AF tests as both faster and happier to work in low light, you really have to test them on a tripod under the same circs, a comment that one focused in a room with the TV on better than another in a restaurant is not terribly meaningful ...

So thanks for the "how it feels to use" stuff, but I think the IQ stuff is ill-considered, and people who know no better will read it and go away thinking the Sony has better res and worse noise performance because they read it on the web, and these things, I think, are most unlikely to be true...

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felixhsieh
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Thanks for the overview.

I also have both the E-M5 and NEX-7, and I share most of the same opinions (I will most likely sell the NEX-7). A couple points to add from my experience:

  • Adding the HLD-6 battery grip to the E-M5 really closes the gap in ergonomics. I'd even say it makes the E-M5 more comfortable than the NEX-7. Even though the NEX-7 has a great grip, the body height is really quite short, so the lower right corner of the body would dig into my palm, especially when using a heavy lens like the Tamron 18-200. Even though the HLD-6 grip adds more weight, it feels better balanced/distributed by far.

  • With the NEX-7 in low- or semi-low lighting, I occasionally get incorrect focus confirmation, where the camera was quite clearly out of focus, yet still registers a focus confirmation box/beep. This also happens in relatively good lighting when tracking a moving subject. The E-M5 has performed much better in this regard, and focus miss has been quite rare for me.

  • I prefer the responsiveness of NEX-7 buttons, but will settle for the E-M5's spongy feel for weather sealing. The E-M5's control dials are far better too, with deeper clicks and greater rotational travel. Although the NEX-7's smooth dials make it nearly effortless to quickly change aperture/shutter/exposure, the dials can accidentally turn just by brushing the body against your leg, pulling it out of your bag, etc. The E-M5's mode dial, however, has more play than I am comfortable with. It may be for weather sealing, but it feels as though it might pop off if caught on something.

  • Not enough can be said about the NEX-7's poor movie button placement. Holding the body in a vertical position at your side is enough to shift your grip and accidentally start recording a movie. By the time you want to shoot and realize it's been recording, you will be forced to wait several extra seconds while it writes the file to the card. The NEX-7 also has no option to disable the button in certain modes, let alone change its function. Too much of my first week with the NEX-7 was spent cancelling a video recording, waiting for AF to correctly lock, or deleting files.

For all the trouble I've had with the NEX-7, I must say that under the right conditions (good lighting, relatively little motion, good lens), it's really quite amazing what the 24mp sensor can capture. But for my purposes, the E-M5 has been a far better all-around performer.

Minor annoyances with the E-M5 aside, the only real shortcoming I've had is the ISO 200, 1/4000s limitation. If you're shooting wider than f/2.8, be prepared to get some ND filters!

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Henry Richardson
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LL: Sony NEX-7 Six Months On
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Thanks for your comments. Coincidentally, I read this article this morning:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/nex_7_six_month_on.shtml

Seems like a pretty good assessment after 6 months of extensive use. Except for the EVF and lens comments most of the other things he mentions could be handled with a firmware update but, of course, that doesn't mean it will be.

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Photohobbyfun
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How do the EVF's compare?
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

What's your assessment of the EVF's between the two cameras?

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Richt2000
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to Uncle Albert, Apr 18, 2012

I've been using a new NEX7 alongside an EP3 and my video button is quite stiff - I haven't once accidently started movie-ing...

Uncle Albert wrote:

Thanks for the comparison! One reason I opted for the OM-D over the NEX-7 (though it might sound silly) is the stupid placement of the record button on the NEX-7. Since I rarely shoot video, I thought it was in a terrible position. Not only that, but from what I could tell it was not customizable!

Whatevs, Sony. I'm still waiting patiently for my silver OM-D which I've affectionately named The Silver Bullet.

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RicksAstro
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to szlevi, Apr 18, 2012

szlevi wrote:

For starter: what's up with the video? The NEX simply shuts down after 15 or so minutes due to overheating when recording video and I that's a dealbreaker for anyone seeking a camera that's good enough to record kid's first stage performance in the school etc. Did you test video with the OMD-D?

I've owned a NEX5, 5N and 7, and they all exhibited the shutdown in video. I was not able to use them to record my kid's concerts, since I could usually just get a max of 20-30 minutes recorded.

I ran the same test on the E-M5 that I ran on the NEX bodies...start recording at max quality and let it run until it stops. With the NEX 5 & 5N cameras (at about 72F ambient), I would be able to go for anywhere between 18-25 minutes before they shut down due to overheating. Restarting right away would only get a few minutes. The NEX-7 could often make it to the full under 30 limit, but if I started again, it would only go about 2 minutes before shutting down.

The E-M5 went the full 22(?) minutes and I restarted and it then went the full time again. Didn't test it further, but clearly it did better than the NEXs even with the IBIS active on the E-M5. And I didn't even pull out the LCD like I would do for the Sony's to increase the cooling.

That was one of the fatal flaws for my use on the NEX cameras. I bought a GH2 just for video and finally ended up selling the NEX cameras since the GH2 had a better lens selection, although not a nice of IQ. The E-M5's IQ is now up there closer to the Sony's and the video quality is definitely nicer than the NEX cameras IMO. And in many ways, the E-M5's video has a nicer look than the GH2's, but can fall apart with compression due to the lower bitrates.

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Atlasman
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Re: My impressions between the E-M5 and NEX-7
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

Thanks for the post. I own the NEX-7 and my E-M5 is on the delivery truck as we "type?"

I'm looking forward to using E-M5. My last Oly camera was the E-30.

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Just Having Fun
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very balanced review, thanks!
In reply to lowincash, Apr 18, 2012

I already have an A65 with the 24MP sensor (Which is very good when there is plenty of light), so the NEX 7 doesn't interest me. I love IBIS. But I am sure there are many who will prefer the Sony.

Both the EM5 adn NEX 7 are great cameras. It you own either one you will be happy. You appear to be twice as happy (owning both)!

lowincash wrote:

I received the E-M5 yesterday and have spent a good day with it so I thought I give my impression of this camera versus the NEX-7. I got the NEX-7 back in December and have used it for a few months before selling it for the E-M5.

In no particular order, I'll start:

Firstly, my hands aren't that big and the silver E-M5 fits fine in the hand with enough grip thanks to the rear thumb hook and the textured front padding. Also, since I don't use the neck strap, I've removed those triangle things and just used a simple wrist strap so nothing gets in the way. I did the same with the NEX-7 and must say that the NEX-7 feels 10X's better in the hand than the E-M5. Out of all the camera's I've owned in the past, the NEX-7 felt the best to hold. The hand just contours around the perfectly sized grip. I'm sure with the optional battery grip the E-M5 will handle much better but I don't plan on getting the grip.

The tri-navi dials on the NEX-7 was definitely very good and easy to use but I too often found myself turning the rear dial with the palm of my hand, changing the ISO. Also found myself often unintentionally turning the top right dial, which adjusts the EV. I'm glad the E-M5 has the regular navigation buttons on the back. I also found myself liking the two top dials too. Feels more natural in use, very similar to previous DSLR's that I've owned.

I love having the tilting screen and much prefer this than the articulating one that I used on the G3. I find the tilting screen on the NEX-7 much smoother to operate compared to the E-M5 which is a bit stiff. Next is the capacitive touch screen. I usually don't like touch screens but being able to focus and release the shutter by touching the screen is pretty awesome and somewhat handy to have. This was something I wished the NEX-7 had.

AF performance, I am very happy with the E-M5. The NEX-7 is not slow at all, just not as fast. As I've posted in other threads previously, I complained about the NEX-7's low light performance where, in a dimly lit restaurant, I wasn't able to lock focus at all and when I did, it focused on the background. Last night while I was at my friend's house showing him my camera, I tested out the AF performance. At the time, he only had the TV and a desk lamp on so there wasn't much light. I had the 45mm on the E-M5 and was able to lock focus pretty quickly on most of the subjects I pointed to, at times it will hunt back and forth a bit in those darker areas but was still able to lock focus. I'm impressed. I haven't tested out the continuous AF or tracking yet though.

One thing that annoyed me on the NEX-7 was the SD card location. It's in the battery compartment right up against the hinge where the lid opens and close. It was hard to get to and was very annoying at times. I'm very glad the SD card slow is on the side of the E-M5, much easier to access.

The E-M5 you can easily customize the settings to your liking. On the NEX-7, you cannot set the highest ISO setting for auto ISO (it's set to 1600) and the ISO settings do not have 1/3 increments. I'm glad I'm able to control this option on the E-M5.

When I had the NEX-7 I only used the Zeiss 24mm f1.8 lens since nothing else interested me. Due to the limited amount of fast native lenses, I started looking into legacy lenses. I do wish the E-M5 has the focus peaking feature that I found very helpful on the NEX-7. On the other hand, having the IBIS worked very well for me and I'm able to magnify the view without it jumping around. I'll just say that the IBIS is awesome! =] Works very well with the long legacy lenses.

24MP vs 16MP, hmm. For sure the 24MP captures a ton of details and it amazes me every time when I zoom in. The IQ is definitely better on the NEX-7 as it's seems more clear and sharp. However, I love the Oly colors a lot as I did with the E-P3. The Sony color's just a bit too artificial looking. I guess the warmer Oly colors are more soothing in a way haha For ISO performance, I can say that I'm happy with using 6400 with the E-M5 whereas I usually wouldn't go higher than 3200 on the NEX-7. I actually took a couple shots at night using 12800 and 25600 to see how they look and it's actually not that bad, I wouldn't use 25600 tho. Maybe would be okay if resized for web use and stuff. But I'm not a pixel peeping tom so I don't really care about 100% crops or test charts and stuff, and I don't crop any of the pics I take, I only resize them so I'm very happy with how the E-M5 performs.

Sorry for the long post, I'm sure I missed some stuff but can't think right now lol I'll just say that both cameras are awesome and both have their pros and cons. But for now, the E-M5 seems to fit most of my needs right now. I only wish I can afford both cameras =/

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lowincash
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Re: How do the EVF's compare?
In reply to Photohobbyfun, Apr 18, 2012

Oh yeah this is very interesting. The EVF on the NEX-7 has more contrast and looks more vivid. However, shadows are dark and can't see much details there. The EVF on the E-M5 is pretty good still, I think I can adjust the contrast and saturation to make the color better. I do noticed that in low light the E-M5's EVF does not lag and neither does the live view screen. The NEX-7's both EVF and screen gets a bit laggy in low light. I also tried setting the EVF refresh rate to HIGH on the E-M5 but don't really notice any difference compared to NORMAL mode, not really sure if it's a big difference or not lol

Photohobbyfun wrote:

What's your assessment of the EVF's between the two cameras?

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I only shoot JPEG =]

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