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The Olympus OM-D E-M5 shook up the mirrorless and Digital SLR market when it was introduced last year in 2012, with a classic SLR styling, combined with the Micro Four Thirds system, and a Sony sensor, it set a new benchmark in the level of image quality possible from such a compact mirrorless camera.
The design and built in electronic viewfinder, along with weather sealed body, made it an appealing option for many meaning they did not have to carry their large DSLR camera with them. Since then, nothing has really come close to shaking up the camera market so much, until this week, when Sony introduced the full-frame Sony Alpha 7 and 7R mirrorless cameras.
Both of the new Sonys features a rather striking resemblance to the Olympus OM-D E-M5, so we thought it would be interesting to look at them side by side. The Sony Alpha 7 and 7R also feature a weather sealed body, built in electronic viewfinder, tilting rear screen, and similar classical SLR styling with a very angular pyramid viewfinder on the top.
The Carl Zeiss 24-70mm lens mounted on the Sony Alpha 7.
Due to the large full-frame sensor on the Sony Alpha 7 and 7R - the lenses are likely to be larger than Micro Four Thirds lenses. However should still offer a much more compact solution than traditional full-frame Digital SLRs, which are larger by nature when compared to mirrorless cameras, due to the mirror and optical viewfinder system.
The Sony Alpha 7 (and 7R) will need a new Sony FE Mount lens to take advantage of the full frame sensor, with a 24 megapixel sensor in the A7, and a 36 megapixel sensor in the A7R.
Sony Alpha FE-Mount Lenses: Carl Zeiss 35mm, 55mm, 24-70mm, and 28-70mm.
Sony has announced 5 new lenses for the Sony FE-Mount, with the first lens, the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, released November 2013 at the same time as the cameras, and Carl Zeiss SEL55mm f/1.8 and Carl Zeiss SEL24-70mm f/4 Z released January 2014. The following two lenses, the Sony SEL28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS and Sony SEL70-200mm f/4 OSS G, from Spring 2014. Carl Zeiss has also announced plans to release additional lenses in 2014.
Using current Sony NEX E-Mount lenses will result in a cropped photo or heavy vignetting. You can use a Sony Alpha A-Mount lens with an adapter, shown above left, which will allow auto-focus, or alternatively, like the Micro Four Thirds system, there are a number of adapters available to allow the use of full-frame lenses from other manufacturers such as Leica, Nikon, Canon, etc, although most of them will require manual operation (depending on the adapter). With the added weight of the adapter, and the potential size of full-frame lenses, the optional battery grip will be advisable for those that would like to have something else to hold on to, to make the camera feel more balanced.
With the Olympus OM-D E-M5, image stabilisation is built in with an impressive 5-axis image stabilisation, that works in video mode as well. The Sony Alpha 7 and 7R instead uses optical image stabilisation that is lens based, so you will need to ensure your lens features optical IS if you require it.
The rear of both cameras features a 3 inch tilting screen, however the Olympus OM-D E-M5 has a touch screen, making setting the focus point very easy. The Sony screen tilts further for shooting with the camera low down.
Both cameras feature front and rear control dials for aperture and shutter settings, or other changes, to settings, however the Sony Alpha 7 and 7R feature an exposure compensation dial.
The Sony Alpha 7/7R has a noticeably larger hand grip when compared to the Olympus OM-D E-M5, with the E-M5 having the option of a two part battery grip, or alternatively you could consider the newer Olympus OM-D E-M1, which has a significantly larger grip, and a more Digital SLR styled body.
Both cameras are weather sealed, and give side access to the memory card slot, with the battery compartment underneath. It will be interesting to see how the new full-frame mirrorless cameras perform when they are available, and whether Sony will gain further market share from Nikon and Canon (and others?) as a result. Until we have full production versions in for review, feel free to have a look at our hands-on reviews with sample photos below:
Read our Sony Alpha 7 Hands-on Review with Sample Photos
Read our Sony Alpha 7R Hands-On Review with Sample Photos
Read our Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review
|Sony Alpha 7R||Olympus OM-D E-M5|
|CCD pixels||36.4Mp (Megapixels)||16.1Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Type||Exmor CMOS||Live MOS Sensor|
|Sensor Size||Full-Frame||Micro / Four Thirds|
|Sensor Size (width)||35.9mm||17.3mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||24mm||13mm|
|Screen resolution||921k dots||610k dots|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/8000sec||1/4000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||30sec||60sec|
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 25600||200 - 25600|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2,359,296 dots||1.44million dots|
|Video FPS||60p, 25p||30|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes||Yes|
|USB||USB 2||USB 2|
|Battery Type||Lithium-Ion||Lithium Ion|
|Box Contents||No Data||Body, Flash FL-LM2, Li-ion battery BLN-1, Li-ion battery charger BCN-1, USB/Video Multi cable, Shoulder strap, OLYMPUS Viewer 2/ib CD-ROM, Instruction manual, Warranty card|
|View Full Details||View Full Details|