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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:


Sony:


E-M1:


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

Thanks for this, Paul, it's a very interesting comparison and you have clearly put a lot of work into it. The Sony wins in every situation, but not by a huge margin. Given the difference in surface area of the sensors it's rather like comparing an Olympus OM 35mm SLR with a Mamiya RB67. I suspect that with such a comparison you would see a truly enormous difference between the two formats. It would be interesting to see a similar comparison between the EM-1 and an APS-C camera; considering the results of this test I doubt there would be much difference at all.
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Old 6th February 2016
Harold Gough Harold Gough is offline
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

Paul,

I don't like to accuse anyone of bias but you have a definite leaning tendency.

Allowing for a bit of vertical offset alignment, you have the best cross-eye stereo pair of a basket of washing I have seen. OK, there is no competition. However, the last pair are spot on, all the more surprising as they are at wide aperture.

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

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Paul,

I don't like to accuse anyone of bias but you have a definite leaning tendency.

Allowing for a bit of vertical offset alignment, you have the best cross-eye stereo pair of a basket of washing I have seen. OK, there is no competition. However, the last pair are spot on, all the more surprising as they are at wide aperture.

Harold
I was impressed how the woman and boy didn't seem to move at all between changing cameras

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

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Originally Posted by Kiwi Paul View Post
I was impressed how the woman and boy didn't seem to move at all between changing cameras

Paul
I've got them well trained! Although TBH, my son was playing on his phone so was oblivious to what I was doing and my wife, as you can probably see, had that "not more photographs" look!
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Old 6th February 2016
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

As John has said you have put a lot of work into this comparison but I do question if it is truly representative, the lenses are so different in FL and aperture for a start (35mm f2.8 = true dia 12.5 mm; 17mm f 1.8= true dia 9.4mm so the 35mm will let considerably more (43%) light onto the sensor). As far as I could see they are all well defined pictures as one has become accustom to with modern DSLR's Did you use the anti-shake mode on the Olympus, how does IS system compare? Does the A7R do composite or focusing stacking in camera? Yes I am probably guilty of being bias towards the EM1 because I have one and this is a Olympus forum. Making true comparisons between cameras and lenses is so difficult with everything being so well made these days. At the end of the day it is what you are happy with and at least you have been able to make your own subjective comparison. Good luck if this is the system that gets you the pictures you crave for.
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Old 6th February 2016
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

The way I compare is to go out and take real world photos of things I take photos of, landscapes, abstract stuff etc, process them so they look as good as I can get them independently, then look at the photo as a whole, if there's is no perceivable difference then it doesn't matter which camera, lens or whatever, I use, if the final picture has a definite difference to the other then I may consider using that camera, lens etc. But I think you have to evaluate equipment over a period of time, allowing for different lighting, different scenes and genres etc to get a truly balanced idea, there's the "novelty factor" too that you have to get over to remove any bias, and only after extended evaluation can you really ascertain which you prefer.

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

I have just checked the sensor details on sensorgen. The EM1 has lower read noise so I suspect that the noise difference you are seeing is down to the lens not the camera.

http://www.sensorgen.info/SonyA7R.html

http://www.sensorgen.info/OlympusOM-D-E-M1.html
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Old 6th February 2016
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

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Originally Posted by birdboy View Post
I have just checked the sensor details on sensorgen. The EM1 has lower read noise so I suspect that the noise difference you are seeing is down to the lens not the camera.

http://www.sensorgen.info/SonyA7R.html

http://www.sensorgen.info/OlympusOM-D-E-M1.html
Well, I can certainly say that the Sony lens is a sharper lens than the Olympus, but I can also say without any shadow of a doubt that the Sony delivers lower noise. Not only is this what I observe, it's what DxO have measured, what every other review on the internet says and what is intuitively right given the difference in sensor size.
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Old 6th February 2016
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

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Originally Posted by birdboy View Post
As John has said you have put a lot of work into this comparison but I do question if it is truly representative, the lenses are so different in FL and aperture for a start (35mm f2.8 = true dia 12.5 mm; 17mm f 1.8= true dia 9.4mm so the 35mm will let considerably more (43%) light onto the sensor). As far as I could see they are all well defined pictures as one has become accustom to with modern DSLR's Did you use the anti-shake mode on the Olympus, how does IS system compare? Does the A7R do composite or focusing stacking in camera? Yes I am probably guilty of being bias towards the EM1 because I have one and this is a Olympus forum. Making true comparisons between cameras and lenses is so difficult with everything being so well made these days. At the end of the day it is what you are happy with and at least you have been able to make your own subjective comparison. Good luck if this is the system that gets you the pictures you crave for.
Ermmm - I'm pretty sure that the amount of light exiting a lens is not related to its absolute aperture size, but its ratio with the focal length (aka the f-stop). This must be right since otherwise my 50-200 would be delivering several times the light that my 17mm does since the aperture sizes are significantly different. But of course it doesn't since it's f2.8-f3.5 and the 17mm is f1.8. I can readily see this by looking at the shutter speeds that each lens uses when shot wide open.

I know it's not an uber scientific test, but I think it's pretty representative of what you'd get using both cameras in real life.

As for bias etc - I hope you read the end of my post where I said that on balance I think I prefer the E-M1. The Sony's IQ is definitely better, but it's more than a question of IQ.
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Old 6th February 2016
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

Ive compared the files from my Leica 'system', ie the camera and the all important lens (I have a Summicron 35 and a more recent summilux 50) against the U4/3 EM5 with a PL 25/f1.4, the files show quite a bit of difference, especially in the maluability if I want to raise shadows or recover highlights - but the main reason for preferring the Leica system is the fully manual camera, almost like the cameras I grew up with (my next door neighbour gifted a Kodak brownie 120 film). I'm not a big fan of computer controlled cameras, and would convert to film if I had the patience to develop and lash out on a reasonable scanner. I could have purchased a little used MP for almost half the purchase price of the M240, but hey ho I didn't. Anyway, M lenses work equally well on analogue and digital cameras.

There's a plus point on side of FF, and that's the DoF compared with FF/4 - just need an appropriate lens. But Paul (PDK42, as a landscape photographer, I understand limited DoF isn't your main objective.
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Old 6th February 2016
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

I thought you were comparing cameras not lenses as per your heading. The information I provided is clear that the EM1 sensor out performs the Sony Sensor regarding read noise and I am assuming that is the dominant noise for the pictures you were taking. To get a truer picture and get the same light gathering for both lenes you would need to take a picture with the 17mm at f1.8 and the 35mm at f 3.7.
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Old 6th February 2016
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

You had an itch, you scratched it and found out that there isn't thaaaat much difference in terms of real word usage. I did the same (but in the other direction) and now have no FF kit and a whole stack load of Olympus.

I would also say that, in my experience, some of the differences you are seeing is down to the Oly lens which isn't as brilliant as some of their other primes, it lacks contrast wide open, isn't as sharp as others and suffers CA when wide open. You can see this in the shot of your wife where there is a noticeable loss of contrast in the frame (could be because it was wide open, the flare or a bit of both).

Anyway, I love these kind of posts as they show the differences in real world shooting to achieve a similar shot, not having everything equalised to a non-sensical absolute.
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Old 6th February 2016
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

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Originally Posted by pdk42 View Post
Ermmm - I'm pretty sure that the amount of light exiting a lens is not related to its absolute aperture size, but its ratio with the focal length (aka the f-stop). This must be right since otherwise my 50-200 would be delivering several times the light that my 17mm does since the aperture sizes are significantly different. But of course it doesn't since it's f2.8-f3.5 and the 17mm is f1.8. I can readily see this by looking at the shutter speeds that each lens uses when shot wide open.
My understanding is the bigger the lens the more light it lets in. I have been trying to properly understand this light issue because I want to do astrophotography. I have come across a very good web site that properly explains this complex issue. The guy is a Dr Roger Clark who has spent years in imaging some including with NASA. I think he makes a lot of sense but his explanations seem to contradict a lot of what is published on the web. Here is his explanation about light gathering and f/ratios.

http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/....and.f-ratios/
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Old 6th February 2016
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Re: E-M1 and Sony A7R comparison (warning - lots of images)

You have a fine triple dunny there Paul!

There is a difference, but not as much as I would have expected given the difference in sensor size.

I would be interested to see a comparison with the EM-5 as, from what I have seen, it seems to provide a marginally cleaner image with better colour. I certainly have no complains with mine.
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