E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Started Oct 18, 2013 | Discussions
kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Hi all, I've been "lurking" here for a while and learned a lot from the discussions here. I am posting this question to both the M43 and Sony forum (if it's allowed), not to stir up a war, but really wanting to get some suggestions. I've read through many reviews and postings but am still feeling a bit confused.

I am currently using Panasonic G5 and enjoying it. However, I am planning to upgrade to either Olympus E-M1 or Sony A7 but have a super hard time deciding which one to get. I am not pro, don't do studio or commercial work, don't have legacy glasses (really just want native lenses sans adapters), and rarely do street photography. My main thing is landscape/flower/sometimes wildlife photography when hiking/traveling. I currently own a few m43 lenses: 14mm (rarely use and am planning to sell it), 25mm (use it sometimes, mostly indoors), the kit 14-42mm lens that comes with G5, and 45-150mm (occasionally use it).

So, even though it seems that I really should just go for e-m1 since I value light weight and am already in the m43 ecosystem, I must say I have always lusted after the stunning images made by a full frame camera (not super satisfied with the G5 IQ). The size and price of A7 pretty much solves the problem of "too heavy and too $$$". Since I don't plan to purchase a large number of lenses -- I really just need 4 lenses: the "normal" one, a medium tele, maybe a (super) wide-angle, and (at some point) a macro -- I think the fact that FF lenses are heavier than their m43 counterparts are prob. not a deal breaker.

So, anyone who is in a similar boat? Anything else to consider? Just to clarify, I am not considering a non-ILC. Thanks for any input!

Bob Tullis
Bob Tullis Forum Pro • Posts: 35,724
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Hard to say. Some just have to take on the FF expeirence to determine whether that matters to them. Look closely at comparitive finished and raw examples. I've had a time with DSLRS up to using FF 4 years ago, and with these OM-D's I don't yet see any reason to be tempted away from a format so comfortable and enabling. But that's in part about my own journey and uses. If I were in your shoes I might HAVE to see what the hub-bub is all about.

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HornOUBet
HornOUBet Senior Member • Posts: 2,203
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

I have an E-M5 and would love an E-M1, but man, that Sony does sound nice...

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Zaptrax Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

How large are the prints you will be making? How often will you be shooting at high ISO settings (over 3200)?  Hard to recommend a camera without know the answers to those questions.

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 9,549
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?
1

Well, I could say that the EM1 is more well rounded with a better selection of affordable (mostly) lenses, some of which are okay for wildlife, but it sounds like you want to try full frame, so why not? Won't hurt to try. Don't expect any affordable and small long lenses for the Sony system.

I actually think that if you want to try full frame, if the $1600 deal for the Canon 6d is still around, that's a better bet. You can then pick up a nice fast 50 for cheap and have all the bokeh you want, no adapters.

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John Krumm
Juneau, AK

OP kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Up to poster size? Would love to print some of the landscape shots and hang them on the wall! I don't think any of my current photos can go up that size (when I zoom in they seem rather blurry -- maybe that's just my skill level? Not sure). I try to do low ISO as much as possible, but I am definitely interested in doing some low light/long exposure photography (with a tripod, of course).

Zaptrax wrote:

How large are the prints you will be making? How often will you be shooting at high ISO settings (over 3200)? Hard to recommend a camera without know the answers to those questions.

OP kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Hmmm... the normal FF is a bit too large/heavy for me  But thanks for the suggestion!

HL53 Regular Member • Posts: 488
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Hi kwtraveller,

I have an 2 EM-1 bodies on order but I did look long and hard at the A7 and A7r but in the end rejected them in favour of the EM-1. A camera is more than the quest for the ultimate IQ it is a compromise between, versatility, size, cost, IQ, and system size.

Where I think Sony have got it wrong is by not using in body stabilization on a camera that should be heaven sent for legacy lens users. Even the 35mm Zeiss is not optically stabilized. The flash sync speed is not flash enough for daylight sync and the shutter is as noisy as hell.

The current zoom lens line up has been deliberately capped at f4 to keep the size down which amuses the hell out of me as what's the point making a FF sensor then handicapping one of its main virtues.. ie bokeh by giving it an f4 zoom. For the  A99 and A900 the Zeiss 24-70 and Sony G 70-210 are both f2.8.

The asking price ($1000) for the 55mm f1.8 Zeiss is just plain insulting.. its an f1.8 for heavens sake... get a grip Zeiss. I despise the idea of buying apps for feature such as time lapse and multi exposure etc which should be built in to the firmware.

You may think that I have something against Sony but you would be wrong I own 2 Sony FF DSLRs and think they are excellent but I do think they have missed several key features simply to make the A7 range as small as current technology and costs allows.

There will be times and circumstances when you will be able to, "get the shot" with the EM-1 where the A7 will give blurred camera shaken results when using non stabilized lenses.

When Sony make the A7 with similar features to the EM-1 ..I will get one but I think I'll hang on the the EM-1.

Best regards,

Howard

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Derek Dean
Derek Dean Senior Member • Posts: 1,944
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Howdy kwtraveller, and welcome to CPF :-).

I'm was basically in the same position, choosing between the new A7/A7r or the E-M1.  While the FF Sony is highly intriguing, I chose the E-M1 and placed my pre-order this week, along with the PRO f2.8 40-80 zoom lens.

I spent a LONG time comparing systems (over the last few years), and while there can be some advantages to a full frame sensor, I think they are mostly seen when used at high ISO and when printing very large prints.

I always download the instruction manual before purchasing something like a new camera, and after reading through the manual for the E-M1, I became convinced that it had the features I would find most useful, and combined with the new PRO series of lenses I could get the IQ I was after, all in a small to mid-sized system.

By the way, it sounds like you're interested in using prime lenses with your new camera (single focal length, not zooms).  Olympus and Panasonic have some spectacular prime lenses.  Here are few you might consider.

1.  Medium:  Pana Lecia 25mm f1.4

2.  Medium tele:  Olympus 75mm f1.8 or Olympus 45 f1.8

3.  Macro:  Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro

4.  Wide: Olympus 12mm f2.0

Those lenses are all in place and ready to go, unlike the Sony A7 system.

As a disclaimer, I don't actually own any of this equipment, but I've spent many, many hours reading reviews from various website and comparing actual photos, and Olympus has a nicely matured system, while the Sony system is brand new, with relatively little known of it's actual performance.

However, to be honest, I'd say follow your heart and get whichever one tickles your fancy.  I imagine that both will produce exceptional photos.

Good luck, and happy shooting!

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OP kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Reading reviews religiously these days...

OP kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Thanks, Howard, for sharing your reasoning! All good points. I am mostly concerned with lenses too. If I go with A7, I am stuck with the kit zoom (which could be great, but we don't know yet) and some very expensive primes for a while... But then a part of me was like, "Well, I don't need that many lenses anyway..."  Hmmm...

OP kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Thanks Derek for the warm welcome and your input! A while ago I even wanted to change system and go to APS-C (was thinking about 70D or D7100 but came to my senses :0)), so I did a lot of system comparison too! I already have the 25mm and love it. If I stick with m43, I will get the 60mm macro or 12mm wide (or 9-18mm) at some point.

I guess my problem is my head says E-M1 and my heart keeps nagging "but A7 is full frame" (I love landscape pix made by 5D Mark III and D800):-) But I don't want to carry the weight of FF. Oh well, I think I need to try them with my own hands before deciding...

Derek Dean wrote:

Howdy kwtraveller, and welcome to CPF :-).

I'm was basically in the same position, choosing between the new A7/A7r or the E-M1. While the FF Sony is highly intriguing, I chose the E-M1 and placed my pre-order this week, along with the PRO f2.8 40-80 zoom lens.

I spent a LONG time comparing systems (over the last few years), and while there can be some advantages to a full frame sensor, I think they are mostly seen when used at high ISO and when printing very large prints.

I always download the instruction manual before purchasing something like a new camera, and after reading through the manual for the E-M1, I became convinced that it had the features I would find most useful, and combined with the new PRO series of lenses I could get the IQ I was after, all in a small to mid-sized system.

By the way, it sounds like you're interested in using prime lenses with your new camera (single focal length, not zooms). Olympus and Panasonic have some spectacular prime lenses. Here are few you might consider.

1. Medium: Pana Lecia 25mm f1.4

2. Medium tele: Olympus 75mm f1.8 or Olympus 45 f1.8

3. Macro: Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro

4. Wide: Olympus 12mm f2.0

Those lenses are all in place and ready to go, unlike the Sony A7 system.

As a disclaimer, I don't actually own any of this equipment, but I've spent many, many hours reading reviews from various website and comparing actual photos, and Olympus has a nicely matured system, while the Sony system is brand new, with relatively little known of it's actual performance.

However, to be honest, I'd say follow your heart and get whichever one tickles your fancy. I imagine that both will produce exceptional photos.

Good luck, and happy shooting!

baxters Veteran Member • Posts: 5,156
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

kwtraveller wrote:.

I am currently using Panasonic G5 and enjoying it. However, I am planning to upgrade to either Olympus E-M1 or Sony A7 but have a super hard time deciding which one to get. I am not pro, don't do studio or commercial work, don't have legacy glasses (really just want native lenses sans adapters), and rarely do street photography. My main thing is landscape/flower/sometimes wildlife photography when hiking/traveling. I currently own a few m43 lenses: 14mm (rarely use and am planning to sell it), 25mm (use it sometimes, mostly indoors), the kit 14-42mm lens that comes with G5, and 45-150mm (occasionally use it).

You own one of the best lens made for micro 43 and you said you only use it occasionally indoors. Instead, you're outdoors with the decidedly average 14-42 and wish your landscapes and flowers were more stunning.  I suggest giving the 25mm a chance outside.  I don't own one, but it seems to knock the socks off other owners.

Otherwise, if you are going to upgrade and have the funds, forget the EM1. For your style of photography, I think there's not that much gain over a G5 with the better sensor.  Go to the top of the mountain with full frame.

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miketala Regular Member • Posts: 278
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

What does the em1 do that the em5 doesn't for what you shoot?

The em1 or em5 will be noticeably better than what you have. Better landscape lenses will help too.

Or you might get a FF camera such as a D610 which has a solid line of existing lenses at all price points. But unless your printing real large prints I don't see the point.

I suppose the Nikon lacks the cool factor, but every photographer that I've known says it's all about the lenses. So perhaps the question is, do you want a neat toy, or a tried and true system?

Good luck whatever you do!

bunfoolio Regular Member • Posts: 389
Which one will you take more pictures with?

A simple question.  What is your answer?

Zaptrax Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

If going to poster size is truly important than the A7r is the best camera for you--images from a M43 camera will never be as good at large sizes as a FF camera.   High ISO performance is also going to be way better with the Sony.   If bokeh is important then FF will always do better than a M43 camera.  You really have to decide what is most important.   I just sold my Canon 5DmkII and my OM-D E-M5 and ordered an Olympus OM-D E-M1 because for what I shoot (street and street fashion and social stuff) light weight and compact size are very important to me as are IBIS and family of lenses (I mainly use the Pana 7-14mm and Pana 12-35mm).

The Sony A7/A7r seems like an odd compromise.  The sensor size is a real advantage but right now the system is lacking in lenses, especially ones that are fast and compact.  The ergonomics don't look very good and the lack of IBIS is an issue for me.    And as crazy as it may sound, I think the body is too small. Given the size of the lenses I makes sense to have a little bitter body to improve the controls and make the   camera easier to hold steady.

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OP kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

I hike a lot and when taking pix of waterfalls or a marmot at the edge of the cliff? Zoom beats prime because you don't have much room to move on the trail. Of course I want high quality zoom but since G5 is my first ILC, I am still on the fence of being "locked into the system"

You own one of the best lens made for micro 43 and you said you only use it occasionally indoors. Instead, you're outdoors with the decidedly average 14-42 and wish your landscapes and flowers were more stunning. I suggest giving the 25mm a chance outside. I don't own one, but it seems to knock the socks off other owners.

Otherwise, if you are going to upgrade and have the funds, forget the EM1. For your style of photography, I think there's not that much gain over a G5 with the better sensor. Go to the top of the mountain with full frame.

OP kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

Well, if I am going to spend money, I'd rather go for the new one with the better features and ergonomics. I dislike handling E-M5 (without the grip) and like the look of E-M1 much better. But of course, I don't know how it feels until I touch it...

Thanks!

miketala wrote:

What does the em1 do that the em5 doesn't for what you shoot?

The em1 or em5 will be noticeably better than what you have. Better landscape lenses will help too.

Or you might get a FF camera such as a D610 which has a solid line of existing lenses at all price points. But unless your printing real large prints I don't see the point.

I suppose the Nikon lacks the cool factor, but every photographer that I've known says it's all about the lenses. So perhaps the question is, do you want a neat toy, or a tried and true system?

Good luck whatever you do!

OP kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
Re: E-M1 vs. A7 -- which should I get?

I have small(ish) hands but I still dislike super small cameras so I understand your sentiment about size (ergonomics). Well, not all in poster size, but at least a few. Yeah, I guess everybody has to decide what is important for their TYPE of photography. Thanks!

Zaptrax wrote:

If going to poster size is truly important than the A7r is the best camera for you--images from a M43 camera will never be as good at large sizes as a FF camera. High ISO performance is also going to be way better with the Sony. If bokeh is important then FF will always do better than a M43 camera. You really have to decide what is most important. I just sold my Canon 5DmkII and my OM-D E-M5 and ordered an Olympus OM-D E-M1 because for what I shoot (street and street fashion and social stuff) light weight and compact size are very important to me as are IBIS and family of lenses (I mainly use the Pana 7-14mm and Pana 12-35mm).

The Sony A7/A7r seems like an odd compromise. The sensor size is a real advantage but right now the system is lacking in lenses, especially ones that are fast and compact. The ergonomics don't look very good and the lack of IBIS is an issue for me. And as crazy as it may sound, I think the body is too small. Given the size of the lenses I makes sense to have a little bitter body to improve the controls and make the camera easier to hold steady.

OP kwtraveller New Member • Posts: 19
Re: Which one will you take more pictures with?

LOL, no idea! I guess you were saying I should try to handle them before buying?

bunfoolio wrote:

A simple question. What is your answer?

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