Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience

Started Oct 26, 2017 | Discussions
MEDISN
MEDISN Contributing Member • Posts: 867
Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
42

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.

Build

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.

Ergonomics

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

Handling

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.

Sensor

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.

Lenses

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.

IBIS

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.

Exposure

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

IBIS

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: http://www.mitropoulos.photography/p1072582772

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Photo Pete Veteran Member • Posts: 4,812
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
12

Thanks for your efforts on this. The two systems are of interest to many people and direct comparisons are always useful, particularly whan accompanied by real world comparison images of the same subjects.

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Have Fun
Photo Pete

Diacyclops81 Regular Member • Posts: 363
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
2

Precisely. Both work well when used appropriately. Some of the issues you mentioned with the A7ii have been addressed in the latest Sony iterations, but who knows how well. I really like the IBIS of my Olys, but there are occasions when use of higher ISOs is handy. What you didn’t address in detail was the adapted manual focus lens, most of which are scavenged from old 35mm systems. For these, a couple immediate concerns occur...how good are focusing aids like magnified view and focus peaking, and how good and convenient is the stabilization. I can’t say for Sony, but the Olys are great. Of course, for legacy wide angle lenses, the larger sensor allows them to be wide, regardless how great the edges of the image may be. Conversely, a 300 mm tele is like a “600” on the m4/3. Certainly large teles can work great on the m4/3 bodies, just see nzmacros bird shots. The only reservation I have with my Olys is dim light, handholding a longer tele, and performance of the smaller sensor when one really needs to crank up the ISO to get a sufficient shutter speed. It is baffling why folks seem to get argumentative about the two systems. Using native lenses, both work. And for adapted legacy lenses, each has its strengths.

Zephon Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
2

Thank you for the comparison, easily one of the best comparison I've read online between the two cameras. Really well written and comprehensive.

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berni29 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,084
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
2

Hello

Great comparison, and thank you for taking the time to make it. Very useful and I liked your conclusion. I have an A7 and an EM1. I enjoy both, but I use them quite differently.
As an only camera the EM1 walks away with it though.

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Berni29
m4/3 (long time), Sony FF, Fuji X and Ricoh GR, please see gear list.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 4,046
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
1

Unusual for me to agree with everything. In this case I do.

OzRay
OzRay Forum Pro • Posts: 19,068
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
2

Diacyclops81 wrote:

The only reservation I have with my Olys is dim light, handholding a longer tele, and performance of the smaller sensor when one really needs to crank up the ISO to get a sufficient shutter speed.

Dim light, high ISO, heavy lens hand-held; seems to work for me.

King Parrot

King Parrot

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biggles266 Senior Member • Posts: 1,148
Thank you for sharing, great detail! n/t

No text.

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sbu Regular Member • Posts: 223
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
6

Agree - kudos for including actual pictures. It makes the comparison interesting even though the emphasizes is on the Sony camera. The average compare orange and banana clown starting these threads does not include a single picture.

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jonnieb
jonnieb Contributing Member • Posts: 537
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
7

A lot of work went into this comparo. Thanks for an enjoyable read.

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Jonnieb

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umptious Regular Member • Posts: 488
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience

When reading this comparison, it's worth remembering that the A7ii has a notorious dark current noise problem - that the r and s models lack - which makes it under-perform at high ISO. The A7iii is almost certain to correct this.

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 4,046
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience

Wish ISO 6400 looked as good as ISO 3200

ilsiu Regular Member • Posts: 474
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience
1

I currently use an E-M1 and E-M5 primarily for handheld travel and tripod landscape photography and am considering options for higher resolution and high ISO quality.  The E-M1II and the Sony A7 series are high on my interest list.  Big thanks for putting together this very detailed comparison.

OzRay
OzRay Forum Pro • Posts: 19,068
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience

MShot wrote:

Wish ISO 6400 looked as good as ISO 3200

No doubt the Sony will have better high ISO, but try handholding one attached to a lens that has the same angle of view as a 500mm f2.8 (if such a thing exists). And yes, in the same lighting conditions, same ISO and shutter speed, f2.8 is one stop faster than f4, no matter what the format.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 4,046
Re: Sony A7II vs EM1mkII Experience

That's what keeps me shooting OLY. I still use a 50-200, love it, just wish it was m43 so AF was faster.

SONY FF 100-400? I couldn't manage it, even at f/5 which would produce the same IQ at a higher ISO I recon.

For wide angle, worth considering, but so far I don't own SONY. I shoot next to friends with SONY ASP-C. The images are very similar to EM-5 and PL/7. Most of the time I can't tell them apart if I don't know in advance which system they came from, and m43 still has size/weight/cost advantage for medium and longer focal lengths.

I'm willing to change systems, but I need a compelling reason to do it. So far I haven't see it.

Sergey Borachev Veteran Member • Posts: 4,941
Great comparison

Thank you very much.

As I read this, something kept coming to mind to distract me - the 15 stops of DR in the new Sony sensor.  DR is what M43 struggles with most.

OzRay
OzRay Forum Pro • Posts: 19,068
Re: Great comparison
2

Sergey Borachev wrote:

Thank you very much.

As I read this, something kept coming to mind to distract me - the 15 stops of DR in the new Sony sensor. DR is what M43 struggles with most.

I've never had a problem, but then I look at photography differently to most.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 4,046
Re: Great comparison
1

Sometimes I use in-camera HDR for that reason. It works if nothing is moving in the composition. It can be hand held in good light.

Sergey Borachev Veteran Member • Posts: 4,941
Re: Great comparison

OzRay wrote:

Sergey Borachev wrote:

Thank you very much.

As I read this, something kept coming to mind to distract me - the 15 stops of DR in the new Sony sensor. DR is what M43 struggles with most.

I've never had a problem, but then I look at photography differently to most.

For what I shoot, DR is often a problem. One of the thoughts is whether there will be a more affordable Sony A7III soon with just 24MP. And 15 stops of DR.

You see, I am not getting so excited any more with another extra stop of IBIS, whether it's 5 stops or more makes little difference to my photography, just like 60 fps, 4K or 8K, 42 or 50MP, f/1.8 or f/1.2 ... ...  I would rather get instead 1 more stop of DR instead of all those.

Advent1sam
Advent1sam Veteran Member • Posts: 7,518
Thank you

For confirming my decision on a7 r iii

Appreciated

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