E-M1 vs X-T1 vs A7

Started Jul 29, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Kalintz New Member • Posts: 14
E-M1 vs X-T1 vs A7

I recently got rid of all my NIKON DSLR gear (D700+grip+ 20mm, 35mm, 50mm+ 70-200mm) I do mostly photography when I'm traveling and I usually backpack and lugging around nearly 4kg of gear was just not fun anymore and I as a result, I've been taking less and less photos.
I've never been disappointed by my D700, it's a phenomenal camera, takes amazing pictures but it's just horrible to use when traveling, IMO.

Aaanyway, after looking at the current DSLR offer... none were too portable for me (I was looking for an IQ approximately similar to the D700) so I started looking into mirrorless.

With the money I got for my Nikon gear, I can afford all three most recent mirrorless
Oly E-M1, Fuji X-T1 and Sony A7.

I need a camera mostly for landscape, fast AF, low-light performance and shallow DOF are not my priority.
What I prioritize is
-DR in RAW files
-bracketing abilities.
I'd like to keep my gear to the strict minimum so ideally, it'd just be camera+24-70(80)(ff equiv) lens.
E-M1+12-40 (I tried the kit 12-50)
X-T1 + 18-55

Taking advantage of Amazon refurbished offers and return policy, I decided I'd give all three of them a try.

(disclaimer: my "reviews" are purely subjective and based on how I felt using the cameras, I am by no means a professional reviewer)

After a week of use of each, here's some totally subjective remarks about them.
-fantastic IQ, great DR and huge versatility of RAW files
-OOC JPEGs look great
-great low-light performance (not that important)
-great detail in foliage and other challenging landscape things.
-24mp so lots of room for cropping

-poor native lens selection. I've sold my Nikon glass so I don't have any to adapt on it and the Sony lenses are very expensive.
-Poor kit lens.
-FF lenses still big
-EVF is not good and gave me headaches
-poor ergonomics, didn't like the handling.
-slow AF (but not very important)
-bracketing not intuitive at all

-great IQ. Very usable RAW files.
-beautiful OOC jpegs.
-Great native lens selection. Great kit lens.
-GREAT manual focus
-truly amazing EVF

-horrible controls. HORRIBLE buttons on the back, seriously who designed those? That was almost a dealbreaker for me.
-3-shot bracketing +1 0 -1 ? might as well put no bracketing at all!
-price of lenses. Great lenses, but very expensive.
-APS-C lenses still a little on the big side.
-terrible mobile app.
-horrible AF (not that important)
-did I mention the controls? I absolutely hate the controls on this thing. It's a weird camel of a camera.

-excellent handling. everything feels natural.
-great buttons and knobs. DSLR-like and intuitive.
-generally feels and works like a pro DSLR
-by far my favorite one to shoot with, camera gets out of your way and lets you shoot
-IQ is very good. not amazing but probably sufficient for my use
-blazingly fast AF (not that important)
-great EVF
-huge selection of excellent, small, fast, lenses.
-great bracketing capabilities
-great mobile APP
-touch screen focusing+shooting is great
-IBIS, big plus for landscape

-foliage and such not great...
-files quickly get mushy when sharpening and/or with noise reduction
-OOC jpegs not great
-terrible kit lens (12-50) - 12 40 is supposed to be excellent though, but much much more expensive.
-excellent but pricey lens selection
-images get noisy pretty fast
-not sure if IQ will be sufficient in the long run for me.

so to sum it up:

A7: has the advantage of phenomenal IQ and file versatility but is bogged down by poor controls, sloggish performance and lens weight/size. It doesn't feel finished. It's got fantastic IQ for the price, but it really feels like they had to make a lot of compromises to get to that price.
Kit-lens is good but not amazing.
I just didn't get a good "vibe" from this camera. Maybe I could get used to it in the long run, but maybe not.

X-T1: well balanced. Great IQ and reasonable size/weight. The OOC jpegs are beautiful and I could see using those instead of PPing raws.
I found the controls absolutely horrible though, the buttons on the back are terrible and the knobs on top are hard to work quickly (the autolock on Auto is the world idea ever).
The kit lens is great and I could probably do everything I need to do with that one.
Hated shooting with this camera, but loved the results it produced. Doubt I'd get used to the controls.

E-M1: I absolutely loved shooting with this camera, felt like a DSLR but much smaller and portable. The handling of the camera is perfect imo.
The IQ was good but not GREAT. It was great for everyday shots, but I'm afraid it'll be disappointing in more demanding settings.
The basic kit lens is not good and if you want the good one, you have to drop an extra 600€ or so.
Loooved shooting with this camera but the results were not as good as the other two.

So ultimately, I know there's no such thing as the perfect camera and it's all about how you use it.. but based on my use of these I have absolutely no idea which one to choose.
The A7 would make great photos, but I didn't like using it and I'd have to invest in pricey, heavy FF lenses.
I was thinking of investing in the Fuji system and bare with the X-T1 until the X-Pro2 comes out next year...
I posted in this forum because I loved using the E-M1 but I was a little disappointed in the files it produced, maybe someone can sway my opinion here?

Just looking for opinions to help me make a choice.

Thanks guys!

 Kalintz's gear list:Kalintz's gear list
Sigma DP2 Merrill Olympus E-M1 Olympus 12-40mm F2.8
Fujifilm X-T1 Olympus E-M1 Sony Alpha a7
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