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Old 6th February 2016
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E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

As per my post on "Buying into another system", here are some comparison shots I've made with my E-M1 and a Sony A7R. The E-M1 had the Oly 17mm f1.8 fitted, the Sony the Zeiss 35mm f2.8.

All the shots are from raw and processed with LR 5.7.1. Except where noted (and some slight WB tweaks), I have used default LR settings for all images (sharpening at 25, no NR).

The 100% crops are from images converted to jpgs at 4600 pixels long side. This is the native resolution on the E-M1. I did this to get comparable magnification and in any case it's representative of a print 20" wide (at 240 dpi) or displayed on a 4k monitor. It means that the Sony shots are down-resed, but this will make the Sony shots apparently sharper and less noisy even if it robs it of resolution.

1) Bookshelf. A test of the cameras at base ISO. Shot on a tripod. ISO 200. Both at f5.6.

Both shots:

Sony at 100% (of 4600 wide image)

E-M1 at 100%

My view - there's clearly more noise and grittiness on the E-M1 and the Sony lens is a better performer than the Oly, but the differencea aren't enormous. Interestingly (but not shown here), the blown-out area of the window recovers to some degree on both cameras. The Sony manages slightly better, but it's not night and day.

2) Wash basket. A test at higher ISO. Handheld at ISO 6400. Both shot at f2.8 (so Sony wide open, but Oly 1.5 stops down). Since I was testing high ISO, I added some NR on both shots (since that's how we'd do it in the real world isn't it!). I added 30 NR on the E-M1 and 20 NR on the Sony:

Both shots:

Sony at 100% (of 4600-wide image):

E-M1 100%:

My view - the Sony is clearly doing a lot better here. Especially in terms of sharpness on the towels and the lack of colour bleeding of the cyan towel. There's also much more detail in the fabrics. If shooting at this sort of ISO is something you need, then the Sony will do it a lot better.

3) Outdoor shot. A test of the sort of thing I use the camera for mainly. It was a dull day so I shot both at ISO 400 - mainly to keep the shutter speed high enough on the Sony ! This time at f4.

Both shots:

Sony 100%:

E-M1 100%:

My view - The Sony clearly shows more detail in the trees. I'm not sure whether this is the lens or the sensor, but either way it's better. It's not a major difference, but it's there nonetheless. Would it make a difference on an otherwise great shot with good composition and visual impact? - I doubt it.

4) "Pushed" shot at ISO 800. This shot was underexposed due to poor metering on my part, but it's useful to see how the files cope with exposure pushing. Both at ISO 800 with the Sony pushed 1.5 stops and the Oly 0.5 stop. Not symmetrical I know, but there it is!

Both shots:

Sony 100%:

E-M1 100%:

My view - well, another win for the Sony. Would it matter on a print? You decide!

5) Portrait in natural light. Not the same ISO here - but close. Sony at 800, Oly at 640.

Both shots:



My view - well, more detail in the Sony image again - but the Oly is more than good enough.

In summary, it's clear that the Sony is better; but that's hardly surprising given its sensor is 4x the size and there are more than twice the number of pixels. However, the E-M1 gets pretty close at lower ISO. All other things equal you might conclude that the Sony is the better option - but all other things aren't equal:

- The E-M1 is faster, better handling and with the IBIS allows shots that the Sony would probably miss.

- The size/weight of a bag of Sony lenses would be a lot bigger.

- The cost of Sony lenses is pretty high.

I don't think I'll be staying with the Sony, but it's a closer call than I thought it might be!
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Graham_of_Rainham (6th February 2016), Greytop (6th February 2016), Hemlockwood (6th February 2016), OM USer (7th February 2016), pandora (7th February 2016), pault (7th February 2016), Ralph Harwood (6th February 2016), Scottwin (8th February 2016), yorky (17th May 2016)

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