UPDATE – Olympus E-M5 or Sony NEX-7 ?

I’ve been out of town for a few days and a lot has been happening with regard to the E-M5.


The biggest development has been the release of “Studio Scene” images on DPReview.com. There, we can finally compare the E-M5 head-to-head with all of the other cameras that DPReview has tested.
I compared it to the NEX-7, Fujifilm X100, and Sony NEX-5N … three cameras that I have also used personally. What surprised, and pleased, me was the fact that (to my eye) the E-M5 beat the NEX-7 and compared very favorably to the other two. So, go look for yourself, compare it to your favorite cameras, and let me know how you see it.
On another note, I’ve added a page to my blog where I am trying to put together an up-to-date list of links to other websites with good information and reviews about the Olympus OM-D E-M5. You can see that here at Thru Mikes Viewfinder.
——————— Original Post Below ———————
*Images from manufacturers websites are not to scale
So, what do you think – the Sony NEX-7 or the Olympus E-M5.
One problem is the lack of images from a production E-M5 camera, making it hard to directly compare image quality, especially at higher ISOs. That means, most of my information will be based on specs and available reviews of the E-M5 and my hands on experience with the NEX-7.
COST [+ E-M5]
For the camera bodies, the price is similar with the NEX-7 being slightly higher at $1200 compared to $1000 for the E-M5.
SIZE [same]
They are almost identical in size except, of course, for the “viewfinder hump” on the E-M5.
LENS AVAILABILITY [E-M5]
As close as I can tell, the Olympus has 13 “native” lenses available while Sony only has 9, so far. Of course, they both can use a much wider range with the use of various adapters. Still, any adapter adds a bit of bulk so I’m going with the E-M5, here.
RESOLUTION [NEX-7]
The NEX-7 wins this one, hands down, with 24 Mp compared to only 16 Mp for the E-M5. A true test of image quality should wait until the production E-M5 is out and there are more images for us to view. However, that being said, I’m expecting the Sony to be slightly better – we’ll see.
FRAME RATE [same]
This is so close as to not be a factor with Olympus claiming 9 fps versus Sony’s 10 fps. One review I read, actually clocked the E-M5 at 10 fps, so they are very close.
IMAGE STABILIZATION [E-M5]
For me, this is important. As I’ve aged, I’ve found I have a slight tremor in my “shooting” hand, so I will take all the help I can get. Sony does have some IS lenses for the NEX-7, but with the E-M5, every lens is stabilized.
MENU OPTIONS AND CUSTOMIZABILITY [E-M5]
It appears to me that the Olympus has significantly more options to customize various settings. Of course, by necessity, this probably means their menu system may be a bit more complicated but I like being able to decide how I want certain things to work.

WEATHER SEALING [E-M5]
NEX-7 doesn’t have it … E-M5 does.
VIEWFINDER [? E-M5 ?]
While I’ve found the NEX-7 viewfinder to be excellent, there is one thing that bothers me about it … high noise levels in very low light levels, like shooting stars, for instance. There is almost too much noise to even bother looking through the EVF. What makes me think the E-M5 EVF could be better is its lower resolution. The reason I think this, is that has been my experience using the Fujifilm X100.
COMPLAINTS [E-M5 – maybe]
The Tri-Navi control system on the NEX-7 is wonderful … except … the top knobs are just too easy to turn accidentally, especially the right one. I find I am often shooting with some “unintended” exposure compensation. The “click stops” just need to be a little bit stiffer.
My other BIG complaint is with the position of the Video button on the NEX-7. I probably average at least one unintentional movie a day, sometimes more. I try to turn the camera off when I’m not getting ready to take a shot, but that is not an optimal solution. These complaints have been loud and numerous around the internet and should be easily fixable with a firmware update, but so far … Sony has not responded.
There may be some serious design flaws in the E-M5, but I haven’t read about them, yet.


CONCLUSION
In this completely biased and unscientific examination, the Olympus E-M5 is the clear winner, even if the unknowns happen to fall to Sony, later.
There are, of course, many other areas of comparison, but these are the ones that caught my interest. I’m sure you all have different needs and wants in a camera, so please feel free to chime in … I suspect I’ll learn something if you do. 🙂

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Author: Mike Hendren

Photography is a way for us to express how we view the world around us. It can reveal how we see things - our perception of reality. At times, it provides a creative medium that allows us to alter that reality. Photography also provides a way to capture time and then travel back there whenever you wish. Every time you look at a photo, it can transport you back to that moment, allowing you to relive and remember …

4 thoughts on “UPDATE – Olympus E-M5 or Sony NEX-7 ?”

  1. Hi Carlo and thanks for your input. The size factor is one of the big reasons I'm selling the NEX-7 and going with the E-M5. I don't do video, so the overheating hasn't been a problem for me.

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  2. Just a couple of facts, I owned a nex-7 for a week, and several pen cameras.
    1) the body of the Nex-7 is slightly lighter than that of the E-M5. However Nex lenses are much bigger and heavier than m4/3 ones. For instance the sony 18-200 weights about 560 g. whereas the Zuiko 14-150 is about 290 g. Therefore with nex cameras you face the fact that it is more difficult to hold them due to the fact that the barycenter of the camera+lenses is more far away from the body of the camera itself.
    2) There are several blogs reporting a problem of the overheating of the sensor in the Nex 7:this was a well known issue with the Nex 5N). I found the same problem in my Nex-7: if the camera is cold an icon warns you after about 15 minutes of video recording that the sensor is getting hot, then the camera shuts down after 23-25 minutes. The problem is that if you try to record the movie immediately after that then you can do it for just 3-4 minutes. I must say that Sony does not agree this is a problem of every Nex-7. See here for more details on the subject:
    http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/nex-7-gets-naked/

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  3. Hi and thanks for reading. Yes, I understand that and should have mentioned it in the post. That is a nice feature and I just wish they would also apply it to the video button!
    However, that sort of defeats the purpose of “instant access” to the Tri-Navi controls. I use Program Shift and Exposure Compensation, frequently, so I would rather not have to lock/unlock those controls. But that's just me – I “want my cake and want to eat it too!” 🙂

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  4. The Tri-Navi control system on the NEX-7 is wonderful … except … the top knobs are just too easy to turn accidentally, especially the right one. I find I am often shooting with some “unintended” exposure compensation. The “click stops” just need to be a little bit stiffer.

    Apparently keeping the front customizable button pressed for few seconds will lock the tri navi buttons.

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