Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience

Started Oct 26, 2017 | Discussions thread
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MEDISN Contributing Member • Posts: 772
Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience

Side-by-side with portrait lenses

I’ve spent some time shooting the A7II as I think about replacing my aging 5DIII. Overall good experience and a good camera. Ultimately, I don’t feel the camera, as a whole, lives up to its outstanding sensor, but I suspect the recently announced A7III line and the A9 would change my opinion in this regard. Some initial thoughts below. This is not meant to be a review just things that stuck out over the course of the month I spent with it.


Good overall. Too short to place pinkie finger on grip. No way to lock program dial. Record button difficult to reach. Good button feel/feedback. Door covers (ports, card, battery) feel cheap, no weather sealing of any kind visible. Lens release button difficult to reach. Lenses mount securely – mount feels solid when locked.


Well balanced with small/medium lenses. Wish the shutter button sat further forward on the grip. Screen difficult to extend out with cold fingers.


Overall positive. No touch screen and no super control panel to quickly change settings. Frustrating waiting for images to write to card before reviewing/focus check.


Wonderful detail. Superb gradients and fall-off. High ISO images display fine grain and preserve detail. Some examples vs EM1mkII:

1:1 crop, A7II ISO 200, f/4 (lifted +3EV); EM1mkII ISO 200, f/4 (lifted +3EV)

1:1 crop, all pictures RAW SOOC. The A7II and high-res files were down-scaled to 20MP so some advantage over the plain EM1mkII shot. If you look at the blue wall just above the light bulb, the A7II is cleaner but the high-res ORF is cleaner still.

1:1 crop at ISO 3200. No surprise here, A7II walks away from the EM1mkII. Should be noted the EM1mkII was shot with the 14-42 kit lens which is why it looks a bit soft.


85mm f/1.8: Lighter than expected. Fast to focus, quiet. Superb stopped down to f/2.8-f/4. Bokeh busy in the corners at times but creamy in the center.

12-24mm f/4: Sharper than expected wide open. Outstanding corner sharpness. Light for its size. Fast focus and quiet. Minimal flare vs the mZD 7-14. I really enjoy shooting with this lens.

Adapted: I used several of my EF lenses on the A7II with good results. Not as fast or accurate as my 5DIII but good enough for most shooting.


I should have run this test before the field test below.  I assumed I could get away with 3-stops on the A7II which isn't always the case.  IBIS results roughly the same as my old E-M5. Approximately 2-3 stops in my hands depending on focal length.

In general I would shoot the 85mm at 1/80th minimum sans-IBIS. The A7II had a hit rate of 50:50 at 1/10th of a second, so at least 2, sometimes 3 stops of stabilization at this focal length. I realize the 1/10sec A7II shot above is one of the blurry ones but 5/10 were acceptably sharp. The EM1mkII hit 5/10 acceptably sharp at 1/2.5 of a second handheld, so at least 4 -5 stops of stabilization in my hands.


Hit and miss with the A7II at times. Several shots with widely varying exposure in the same composition. I left the camera at "Matrix Metering", maybe that was the problem.  White balance tricky with indoor lights. Spent too much time in post fixing WB on indoor shots. Outdoor sunny and cloudy WB was very good.

Here’s an example where the A7 overexposed ~ 2 stops. IBIS still should have covered a 0.6 sec shot at this focal length but it was still soft.

In The Field

I took both the A7II and EM1mkII with ultra-wide zooms to The National Cathedral in Washington DC as it represents a good mix of outdoor/indoor opportunities. To be clear this was not scientific although I tried to keep shots as similar as possible as I juggled both cameras.  I had, at the time, a solid 7 months to acquaint myself with the EM-1mkII and only a few weeks with the A7II so bear in mind as you read.

I ran into a bit of a hiccup when I moved inside to shoot as the Sony shutter was quite loud and there was a service in progress. I switched to the Olympus and kept shooting with silent shutter until the service ended then resumed with both cameras.

Silent shutter time!

Low (extended) ISO

In good lighting both cameras exhibited great detail and color at low ISO. Hard to be disappointed with either rendering to be honest.

1:1 crop

1:1 crop

1:1 crop

1:1 crop

1:1 crop

Base ISO

I’ve included shots at ISO 100 and 200 here given their respective base ISO’s.

ISO 64 Olympus vs ISO 100 Sony. The Olympus should have been stopped down to f/4 as the copy I was shooting with had very soft edges/corners wide open vs the Sony at f/4.

1:1 crop, ISO 200 EM1mkII, ISO 100 A7II

1:1 crop, ISO 200 EM1mkII, ISO 100 A7II

1:1 crop, ISO 200 EM1mkII, ISO 100 A7II


I didn’t have to shoot much high-ISO as I was relying on IBIS. The A7II let me down at times as many of the 0.6 sec shots were soft and yet I felt confident I could get a decent hit rate at 3-stops. A few examples below. Makes me wonder if the shutter is to blame, not the IBIS. Perhaps others can chime in. The shutter is somewhat intrusive. Doesn’t seem to be dampened at all.

1:1 crop

1:1 crop.  These shots were composed and framed differently at different focal lengths.  The EM1mkII file was a touch over exposed but recovered nicely.

1:1 crop 1/6 second, f/4, ISO 200 both cameras.  A7II was at 24mm.  Either slightly missed focus or camera shake.

NOTE Olympus is on the right in this shot.  1:1 crop.  The light coming through the window seemed to impact the EM1mkII exposure more whereas the A7II appeared to meter for the shadows.

1:1 crop.  I was able to hand-hold the A7II at 0.6 seconds for this shot thanks to IBIS but it still overexposed several stops.  Not that it mattered, it still looks good at ISO 3200.  The EM1mkII I was seeing how long of an exposure I could do hand-held.

1:1 crop.  The A7II has a propensity to expose for the shadows and blew out the small window in the back.  A touch soft at 0.6 sec.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to like about the A7II. It’s relatively inexpensive and compact with certain lenses. Image quality is excellent even at 24MP (vs R version). Outdoor in good lighting I didn’t see results that would sway me one way or the another. Shadow noise was not as different as I expected at lower ISO. Higher ISO better in the A7II, not surprising. If I had to summarize succinctly, I would say the A7II is a good camera with an great sensor and the EM1mkII is a great camera with a good sensor. Depending on one’s priorities, you could easily go either way.

Photos above are more illustrative for comparison. Better photos from both cameras in this gallery:

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