Need help deciding between the Sony NEX 6 or the Olympus OMD EM5?

Started Apr 16, 2013 | Discussions thread
ntsour Junior Member • Posts: 47
Re: Need help deciding between the Sony NEX 6 or the Olympus OMD EM5?

Here is a copy-paste of a messed-up thread I started a few months ago.  It is not best in anything specific but does everything you would expect from a mirrorless, at a good price point and size.  This is its main issue and strength at the same time.

Here is my take from back in January:
I have a NEX 6 since it came out late October. I tried an EM5 for 4 days during Christmas, tempted after all the hype at the end of the year. At the end I returned the EM5.
I know that this has been discussed to death. But I was about to respond to a specific thread that came up recently. The reply ended up long so I thought, •what the heck I'll put in a thread on its own"
- I only compared the two kit lenses. Normal and tele zooms.
- I only had the EM5 for 4 days. I put a lot of effort to learn all the options, hidden features tricks etc. But I have surely missed things or even be mistaken in some of my evaluations.
- I am a pretty unsophisticated family shooter. But I do get tech (computer and telecoms engineer). This is the point of view I wanted to describe.
- I don't pixel peep. Just look and share my photos.
Body and lens Build quality
* If I didn't know about the weather sealing of the EM5 I would say that the NEX is the better camera. I did not like the feel of the EM5 at all. Buttons, compartment doors, texture of the materials... All felt cheaper to me.
* The kit lenses (12-40 and 45-200) felt like plastic toys.
* I had also read about various failures of the EM5 in the forums.
=> But it IS weather proofed. For me it is not a big deal but it might be for somebody else. NEX 6 body/lenses wined my impressions here.
Handling / Ergonomics
* Again it is very personal. With the NEX 6 you have to put in a few clicks more to get things done and accept what Sony has decided for us. But everything is more or less easy enough to access and handle.
* With the EM5 you can really customize absolutely everything to your liking and there are plenty of HW buttons. But they are not easy to handle in my opinion. For example, the play button in the EM5 was a pain for me. I had to change my grip to another position to press it.
* The deal breaker here for the EM5 was the grip. And personally I do not need the second battery so I am not willing to pay for the extra EM5 grip. It just felt that I would drop it at some point in the future.
* I actually like the fact and I can charge it right after moving the photos via USB. Just switch off and leave connected. I could also remove bulk during trips. If Sony had included the charger it would be perfect, but 15 bucks more is no issue for a system that could reach 2000.
=> So NEX won here. If I were open to buy the grip, or were more serious about customization, like perhaps a professional photographer or a more enthusiastic shooter would, it would probably be an EM5 win.
* Better resolution/ IQ the NEX more usable in low light the EM5
* Under direct sunlight the EM5 viewfinder was much better to use.
* But the NEX6 LCD was better under direct sunlight than the EM5. Actually in some cases it was better than its own viewfinder.
=> A draw for me.

Overall form factor/compactness
* Integrated flash + pancake SEL16-50 made a huge difference for me. Put in a zing accessory bag, or in a coat pocket and I can have it on me all the time. The EM5 with the 12-50 had to go in a bag. I could put a Panasonic pancake power zoom. But then I would lose wide angle, something I wanted. Plus I read about having to correct images when Panasonic lenses were used.
* I don't like to use flash but it is the only option in some cases, and very useful under bright sun also. The bounce trick was also a life saver in many occasions.
=> NEX 6 won
AF / Speed
* The EM5 S-AF is noticeably faster on average and almost never hesitates or fails. At top speed the difference is not that huge, but with the NEX 6 it was more of a gamble, especially under low light.
* C-AF was a NEX-6 win. EM5 was hopeless for me. I was mainly chasing kids around in good light (forget low light for both). NEX6 was not particularly good in absolute terms but I could definitely get some keepers. With the EM5 it was a lost cause.
=> So for me it was draw here.
* The sensors in my opinion are in the same league. The differences come down to size:
- The larger sensor is noticed. DOF is a bit smaller under similar focal length/aperture. Coming from small sensors I was all about small DOF. Now I know that it cuts both ways. Sometimes I enjoy the APS-C size, other times I miss the smaller m4/3 or even my old LX3. Larger DOF certainly made some photos easier to take.
- Under similar circumstances I thought it required about 1 stop less under similar focal length, aperture and exposure time. It would be a big deal if it wasn't for the way EM5 does noise reduction. To my eyes it was just more pleasant than the NEX's. But the NEX let me use shorter exposures, something I need to shoot my kids under low light.
=> Draw for me in this respect
JPEG Engine, metering
* Generally speaking I would say that NEX gave more "natural" looking photos. EM5 more "processed". Sometimes I liked what EM5 did more than the SONY, especially indoors. Other times I preferred the SONY.
* NEX 6 usually underexposed and EM5 was usually spot-on.
* AWB was more accurate in the NEX 6 in my opinion.
=> Again draw here. I have to admit that the EM5 taught me how to PP some NEX photos to get a more pleasing result without overdoing it.
Image stabilization
* No news here. EM5 is much, much better than NEX 6 in-lens stabilization. My expectations were high and were met, unlike the AF (high but not fully met).
* However, the metering system of the EM5 relies too much on stabilization/iso1600 for my shooting subject (kids, family members that do not cooperate keeping still under low light). I got a LOT of photos with motion blur with the kit lens and P/Auto Mode. Had to switch to speed priority, force higher iso. With faster lenses this of course would not be an issue. But it was annoying.
* For still objects IBIS was amazing. But NEX 6 proved to have an ace up its sleeves. Hand-held-twilight mode and Multi Frame NR (the app). They work quite nice and reduce the advantage of IBIS vs. Sony's in-lens stabilization
=> EM5 wins here.
Manual lenses
* I do use manual lenses with my NEX. Ironically Olympus OM 50 1.8 and 3.5 Macro. Peaking works pretty well.
* I did not have and adapter to compare with the EM5. IBIS seemed like potentially a big deal. And there was this peaking trick for the EM5 that I did not try.
* 1.5 APS-C multiplier gave more interesting focal lengths for my use (not interested in extreme telephoto yet)
=> This issue was not so critical for me so I left my tests incomplete. No winner nor looser here. Just that NEX was good enough for me. The EM5? I do not know since I did not try manual focus.
* Again different strengths and weaknesses.
* EM5 almost won due to IBIS and manual control of focus subject under AF (something I miss on the NEX)
* NEX gave more quality in terms of format (non-interlaced) and more manual control of exposure. The 16-50 was also much smoother zooming,
* I also thought that NEX built-in microphone is better, but I might be wrong
=> Draw here.
System future
* Sony had the lenses I needed so was good enough for me.
* m4/3 has more better/options but I would probably never need them. And Panasonic lenses need PP on Olympus if I understood correctly
* If I were planning to invest more on lenses this might have been critical. But I am not. I do not care for 400USD+ lenses of any brand. Out of my budget. I will have to keep away from DPreview forums for this to stay the same 
* I voted electronics vs. lenses. I am more of a computer engineer than an enthusiastic photographer. I know. I am also confident that Sony will put their best sensors on Sony’s first. And I expect them to push more their mirrorless business.
* I valued Wi-Fi and apps. Not very confident but hopeful that Sony will do a better job here. Even open the APIs for anyone to create apps.
=> But I could go either way.
Image Quality / Conclusion
* Putting the above together and looking at the results, the photos, I felt that EM5 did not give me anything significantly better nor worse in terms of IQ. For my shooting needs both are very good, NEX 6 may be a little bit better.
* My decision to return the EM5, I was prepared to keep it if it was really better, was more about other factors: compactness, grip, handling, suitability to my shooting needs and knowledge, apps/Wi-fi ....
* I totally get why a more "hardcore" shooter would prefer an EM5+m4/3 system. The EM5 is very special.
* NEX 6 might be more "boring" or less surprising. But to me it felt like the result of various years of evolution. Perhaps more consumer-focused rather than photographer-focused.

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