On recent cameras: EM-1, XT-1, A6000 ...

Started Feb 12, 2014 | Discussions thread
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blue_skies Forum Pro • Posts: 11,607
On recent cameras: EM-1, XT-1, A6000 ...

Just some things that I noted when comparing these new cameras.

With Sony upping the bar with the A6000 regarding AF and PDAF, it is interesting to particularly compare these cameras.

I can't post tables, other than uplinking images, but I can highlight some of my observations.

First, the A6000 looks and feels much like the Nex-6, which is a good thing - for me. I happen to like the Nex-6 over the Nex-7.


The E-M10 would be more appropriate, at $600, but Oly crippled this model, it seems, e.g. for starters it only has a 0.58x EVF (very small). In comparison, the XT-1 is 0.77x (largest), the EM-1 is 0.74x and the A6000 is 0.70x. (The Nex-6 and Nex-7 were 0.73x). We have to await more user reviews of the lowered resolution (A6000 is 1.4M, others are 2.4M), but for now I would call it a draw, based on first few user reports.

EVF: draw (slight disadvantage to A6000)


So, next about the PDAF. Both the XT-1 and the A6000 report having blindingly fast AF speeds with PDAF compatible lenses. The EM-1 however does not: in AF-S mode it does NOT use PDAF (link) with m43 lenses, only in AF-S mode it does. If in CDAF mode only, the EM-1 is therefore prone to focus miss - the typical foreground person/contrast in background issue. But for this discussion, let's say that AF performance is on par for the three cameras with the proper lens.

AF: draw (slight disadvantage to E-M1)


Feature wise, the XT1 has the most number of controls, including an ISO button. But it only goes to ISO 6400 in RAW. It expands higher in JPG mode only. We know that at the highest ISO you do not want to shoot JPG, but use RAW. Funny. The E-M1 is sensor limited, and keeps well up at the lower ISOs but loses it at the higher ISOs. The A6000 is also questionable. If it is the Nex-7 sensor (performance) it is also weak at ISO 3200 and above, unlike the Nex-6. You are likely to use some kind of MFNR technology with all of them.

ISO: draw (larger disadvantage to E-M1)

Sensor IQ:

This should be a no-brainer. The Fuji XT-1 carries the 16Mp X-trans sensor forward with improvements, and has demonstrated to resolve finer than a comparable 16Mp APS-C sensor. It however is not easy to handle in RAW flows (even though software has been catching up). The Nex-7's 24Mp however has consistently outresolved the Fuji's X-trans sensors, and I fully expect that the A6000 will deliver again. It makes the E-M1 16Mp bayer sensor the weakest of the three.

Sensor IQ: 1: A6000, 2: XT-1 (close), 3: EM-1


The XT-1 has the most amount of controls with the EM-1 being a close second. The A6000 also has many configurable controls, but it is the 'smaller' brother of the Nex-7 (and upcoming A7000) and A7. Compared to the other two, it is a 'lower end' camera, but it shows in its price point. Of course, no Mic input and no AF/MF lock are drawbacks on the A6000.

Controls: 1: XT-1 & EM-1, 2: A6000

Body size:

The XT-1 weighs in at 440gr, the E-M1 at 497gr, and the A6000 at 344gr. This makes the A6000 a featherweight. Furthermore, if you look at the body size, the A6000 is tiny, being hump-free:

Body size: advantage A6000


All features come at a price, and it is very interesting to see the A6000 comparing with the other two cameras. The A6000 is in fact cheaper than the original (metal) Nex-5 and costs even less than its preceding Nex-6 model. Impressive! In giving up some of the features, the cost of the body is only $650. Compare that to $1,300 for the XT-1 and $1,400 for the E-M1. I mean, you can get two A6000 for the price of one XT-1 or EM-1 each. That should weigh in heavily.

Price: advantage A6000


With the XT-1 and the A6000 you have to use stabilized lenses. Since you already are using such lenses to also get the fast AF, it is implied that you have them. Lenses are not inexpensive - for all three cameras. Fuji lenses are reputed as 'better' for they push the aperture and resolution curve just a tad, but this comes at somewhat of a price-point. Oly lenses are reputed as high-resolving, but they have to, given the smaller sensor format. What also is becoming more acceptable is lens-corrections. E.g. for the E1650P lens, lens corrections cannot be turned of in JPG. With lens corrections, many E-mount lenses became sharper (anyone used a Nex-5 before?). So, for lenses, I would call it a draw, which leaves the choice of OSS in the lens (A6000 and XT-1) versus IBIS in the body. IBIS is a winner if you use legacy lenses (but then the crop factor might be another consideration). However, IBIS can cause shutter shock, so there are pros and cons.

Stabilization: advantage E-M1

Battery life:

Perhaps the EVF is a big factor here, but the A6000 upped the reported CIPA #shots per battery to 420. That is a whopping 20% increase! The XT-1 and the E-M1 still holds onto the old 'standard' of 350 shots (same as Nex-6).

Battery life: advantage A6000


There are many more factors to consider, but if I was new to the market, and looked at these recent three offerings, a tally sheet would result in a very quick bias towards the A6000. Kudos to Sony!

If this was the A7000, which around $1,100 would price more similar to the other two models, then the question would arise: what would the A7000 need in this landscape? The A7 has increased dial control, but the Nex-7 has limited space on the body. The Tri-Navi concept was great, but needs an encore.

There are many other features to consider: geotagging (XT-1), splash-proofing (E-M1), video formats, on-camera flash (only A6000 has it), maximum fps frame-rate (A6000 11fps, up to 45images), and more. For now, the A6000 can holds its own against cameras twice its cost. Very impressive.

And, if you left price out of the equation, would the A6000 still come out on top? It is an interesting exercise.

But since price always matters, we'd have to look at price-equivalent models of both Fuji and Oly to compare against the A6000, who really do not compete, and at this point, that makes the A6000 a clear winner imho.

Conclusion: A6000 is a winner!

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