OMD E-M1 vs Sony A-7, What's the Difference?

Started Oct 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
plevyadophy Veteran Member • Posts: 4,258
Unneccesary angst Re: OMD E-M1 vs Sony A-7, What's the Difference?

captura wrote:

M43 vs FF full-frame. Same size and weight.,487

Same size and weight is an irrelevance.


Do you recall the days of the Motorola StarTac mobile phone? That phone to my mind is a classic. When i first saw it, my reaction was whoa!!! wtf!! brilliant!! And I think that was the reaction of many.

And then Samsung (especially) and others tried to outdo Motorola by essentially copying the design and making their phones even smaller; everyone seemed to want to have the words "smallest mobile phone" on their spec sheet. Then things got real silly as the phones became so small that the ergonomics suffered and the phones were unusable. Now where are we? We are now in the age of huge phones, so huge that they now have a market segment known as phablets (a cross between a phone and a tablet).

What has all that got to do with the OM-D E-M1? Well, this. Peeps complained about the cramped real estate of the previous model, the E-M5, so Oly, rightly in my view, made the current camera slightly bigger so that it handles better.

In cameras, we have had this silly fixation with smallness many times. Look at Sony's horrid NEX cams; they seemed to exist for no other reason than for Sony to be able to say their cams were smaller than mFT cams (micro Four Thirds); but, to me at least, the ergonomics were horrendous.

Devices, whether mobile phones or cameras, can only be so small before compromises, and usually bad ones, have to be made in ergonomics.

So mFT users should not feel any sense of let down by the "large" size of the E-M1. It has to be that size as a MINIMUM so as to handle well.

The weight? Well the fact that the Oly cam weighs what it does, and I have handled one, is testament to the great build quality.

1. The sensor is 4x bigger.

OK. So the sensor is 4x times bigger. So what!!! As women often say, "it ain't the size, it's what you do with it that counts".

There are advantages and disadvantages to small and large sensor sizes. Here I am gonna focus on the disadvantages of that large sensor in the Sony cam.

Firstly, lens mount size. Is that mount sufficiently large that it gives the sensor breathing space such that issues of edge sharpness and vignetting aren't a major problem. In my view, looking at images of the lens mount, the answer is no. If I am correct, then the only way to overcome that is to engineer some sophisticated lenses and........"sophisticated lens" is just another way of saying "F*g expensive!!". So advantage mFT.

Secondly, use of strobes; especially if, in keeping with the small and light mirrorless ethos, you want to use speedlights to light your scene. On an mFT system one might use a 50mm lens at f2.8 which is equivalent to 100mm f5.6 in terms of field of view and depth of field on a 35mm format system. Now wait, what do we have here?!!! The 35mm system user is having to use an aperture two stops smaller and therefore his speedlights are having to work that much harder (so you end up with overheating issues and battery drain issues or having to carry an external battery pack which leads to issues of bulk).

Those are just two examples where a mFT user might feel an advantage.

In any event, with modern sensors, prints up to around A3 size show no major disadvantage for for mFT sensors.

It might also interest you to know, that the recent Open Category Winner of one of the U.K.'s most prestigious print competitions, run by the AOP (Association of Photographers), was won by someone using an Olympus OM-D E-M5.

2. Depth of field is radically different.

I have covered that above.


What d'ya run out of things to say?

Have a look at the zoom lense announced for this new Sony system; HUGE compared to mFT stuff. So whilst Sony can boast about having the smallest 35mm system BODY, the boast will fall flat when users of that system decide they wanna use their usual fast zooms and other specialist lenses e.g. Tilt Shift because nothing much will change (lenses will be large).

The use of many legacy lenses on the Sony system, especially on the plain vanilla A7 body (as it has no special sensor micro-lenses), will be problematic due to the huge sensor size coupled with the closeness of said sensor to rear of lens.

And erm, did Sony omit IBIS from their new cams simply so they can (AGAIN!!) lay claim to having a smaller body than the flagship mFT cams (which of course may lead to bigger, more complex, and more expensive I.S. lenses). So erm, no chance of stabilized legacy glass then? So what, d'ya reckon, is that another point to Oly?

Essentially the Oly cam is what it is, and the Sony cam is what it is. One should pick their tools to suit their physique (large hands, small hands, shaky hands etc), personality and needs and not make too much fuss over what other systems have or make meaningless system comparisons.

Declaration: not that it should really matter, but I use gear with the brand names Oly, Metz, Sony, Panasonic, Canon

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