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Sony Alpha 7R Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Comparison

Sony Alpha 7R Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Comparison - We take a look at two of the most important mirrorless cameras announced in the last couple of years, the full-frame Sony Alpha 7R and the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

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Category : Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
Product : Sony Alpha 7R
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Sony Alpha A7 A7R Vs Olympus OMD E M5 (1) (Custom)

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. 

Sony Alpha A7 A7R Vs Olympus OMD E M5 (2) (Custom)


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. 

Sony Alpha 7 (22) (Custom)
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.

Sony Alpha A7 A7R Vs Olympus OMD E M5 (8) (Custom)

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 70 28 70 (1)
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.

Sony Alpha 7 (24) (Custom)

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.

Sony Alpha A7 A7R Vs Olympus OMD E M5 (7) (Custom)

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.

Sony Alpha A7 A7R Vs Olympus OMD E M5 (4) (Custom)

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.

Sony Alpha A7 A7R Vs Olympus OMD E M5 (5) (Custom)

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.

Sony Alpha A7 A7R Vs Olympus OMD E M5 (3) (Custom)

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


Comparison Table

Sony Alpha 7ROlympus OM-D E-M5
ManufacturerSonyOlympus
Image Sensor
CCD pixels36.4Mp (Megapixels)16.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)73604608
Pixels (H)49123456
Sensor TypeExmor CMOSLive MOS Sensor
Sensor SizeFull-FrameMicro / Four Thirds
Sensor Size (width)35.9mm17.3mm
Sensor Size (height)24mm13mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in3in
Screen resolution921k dots610k dots
Touch ScreenNoYes
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Touch AF
  • Spot
  • Multi
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec60sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600200 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Underwater
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Shade
  • Flash
  • Underwater
Exposure Comp+/-3+/-3
Viewfinder
Viewfinder Resolution2,359,296 dots1.44million dots
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4fps9fps
Video
Movie modeYesYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 1440x1080
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS60p, 25p30
Stereo SoundYesYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYesYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNoYes
Interface
HDMIYesYes
USBUSB 2USB 2
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • Memory Stick
  • SDXC
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-IonLithium Ion
CIPA Rating270330
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo DataBody, 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
Dimensions
Weight407g373g
Width126.9mm121mm
Height94.4mm89.6mm
Depth48.2mm41.9mm
View Full DetailsView Full Details

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Photographs taken using the Sony Alpha 7R

Prime cutsPort Vell, Rambla de MarEnjoying a siestaLa Sagrada FamiliaMercat de la BoqueriaGolden Sunbeam...Colour through the birches...Canning DockLayers of Lewis...Lewis Layers...Michael defies the weather...Gate to the MerseyCity of tiny lightsAcross Loch Venachar...Finding a quiet corner
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Comments


joglos 1 United Kingdom
21 Oct 2013 1:50PM
Sorry but surely it would have made more sense to compare the Sony's with the Olympus E-M1 !! rather than with a now secondary camera

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ChrisV 8 827 26 United Kingdom
21 Oct 2013 2:50PM
If you're the sort of photographer who only ever uses short zooms or compact primes I can see this being attractive. But I can't help thinking that's quite a small niche market. Once you start adding larger primes/telephotos/longer zooms, having a compact body seems a little redundant.

I like the idea of smaller/lighter gear that offers quality. Unfortunately the 35mm format because of the necessary size of optics just doesn't lend itself to that system wide. So it's unfortunately a pretty flawed concept.
23 Oct 2013 12:02PM
Interesting new kit but, after trawling around the web and checking on Sony's site, it appears that there is no built-in image stabilisation on the A7/A7R, which seems surprising on a new Sony camera. The resolution of the rear screen quoted on Sony's site is the same as your figure, but WEX have it down as 1.23million, so it's worth double-checking any stats, as always - again, when considering recent releases, the higher figure might have been expected from Sony, perhaps.
I think we as consumers should welcome this photographic system development by Sony. I guess that it is a beginning and not an end so I anticipate further developments to this camera in due course. In the meantime there is a number of new Sony lenses getting ready for sale so the package will be significant.

I know that 'size matters' for some people and for those who it does then this brings some positive relief but the comparison here, a FF system with the Micro 4/3 system, though interesting, is a bit like comparing chalk and cheese.

I for one welcome the increased development of FF and its potential increased availability to more people. Of course the price is still high though lower than the Canikon competition but heading in the right direction. In conclusion I think Sony deserve credit for moving this forward.
23 Oct 2013 1:41PM
So near & yet so far. I am Sony Fan since Sony camera started, & 7R has what I want; EXCEPT: 01- Image Stabilisation, 02- touch-screen. Why trim off these 2 important features?
An accompanying 18-100(150) zoom lens would be so friendly & practical.
Come on Sony, go for it!
LarryS 2 1
23 Oct 2013 3:14PM
article said:"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." Lenses must be full size and weight to provide benefit of full size sensor.

"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." NOT SO. Result will be small camera with large lenses, not the most comfortable combination
kodachrome 3 474
23 Oct 2013 3:47PM
Ok, there is no IBIS because all the Sony lenses have built in IS. I don't hear Canikon users complaining about no IBIS. The Sony wins for me purely on sensor size. After lugging a D90 around fore years with associated 'heavy' and large Nikon lenses, the Sony lenses are small and light by comparison. I think Sony have set a precedent.
JohnHoppy 5 5 United Kingdom
23 Oct 2013 6:20PM
Interesting to a point. But really, the only thing these two have in common is that they belong to the new generation of Mirrorless cameras. The Olympus system has a huge number of far smaller lenses as its main attraction. Both can deliver the goods in terms of photographic potential and it's clear the FF Sony should have an IQ advantage. If you're going to compare potentials as TOOLS this article doesn't quite do it. Much more relevant would be a comparison of the Sony FF with CaNikon FF competitors. That should be the issue - SLR or SLM.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
23 Oct 2013 8:09PM
These two camera`s have a fair bit in common, but only one of these is mirrorless.

Both brands have succeeded in being different and moving away from the tried and tested route.
richshep 12 9 United Kingdom
23 Oct 2013 10:49PM

Quote:These two camera`s have a fair bit in common, but only one of these is mirrorless.

Both brands have succeeded in being different and moving away from the tried and tested route.



Is this a joke? If it is I don't get it.
Oh hang on. It's not a joke. I just didn't understand your remark. Now I do. I think...
richshep 12 9 United Kingdom
23 Oct 2013 11:04PM
The daftest thing about these cameras - one of them anyhow - is the megapixel count. Why does anyone need 36 mp to look at a picture on a computer screen - or even print up to A0? Waste of hard drive space if you ask me.
kodachrome 3 474
24 Oct 2013 9:11AM
I suspect richshep has a point, most people are content to look at their pictures on the PC monitor and perhaps post a few to friends or to online galleries.
in my 35mm days, 10 x 8 was usually the largest size I printed with my enlarger, and my 35mm slides stayed as 35mm slides for projection.
Do you think these very high pixel counts are there just as a selling point or do they have practical advantage over lower pixel counts.
I prefer APS-C, and I would not like to go above 16mp for several reasons.
Geos 1 United States
24 Oct 2013 11:57PM

Quote:So near & yet so far. I am Sony Fan since Sony camera started, & 7R has what I want; EXCEPT: 01- Image Stabilisation, 02- touch-screen. Why trim off these 2 important features?
An accompanying 18-100(150) zoom lens would be so friendly & practical.
Come on Sony, go for it!



DITTO! Why oh why not go with IBIS??? Panasonic has OIS yet they introduced the GX-7 with IBIS. Why, with such an adapter friendly system would you not use IBIS? Olympus has shown it can be very effective! Why no touch screen? A touch screen with touch shutter can be very useful. No GPS on a high end system? C'mon! I'll stick with my a77 till they get it right.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
28 Oct 2013 7:27PM

Quote:These two camera`s have a fair bit in common, but only one of these is mirrorless.

Both brands have succeeded in being different and moving away from the tried and tested route.



No joke but I think I may have made a boob, I can`t see a mirror on that Sony after all Smile


Quote:The daftest thing about these cameras - one of them anyhow - is the megapixel count. Why does anyone need 36 mp to look at a picture on a computer screen - or even print up to A0? Waste of hard drive space if you ask me.


It will be over kill for most of us Smile
I just posted a quite subjective little hands on comparing the A7, A7r, OM-D E-M5 and Canon 5DmkIII: http://www.fotograf-stockholm.nu/first-impression-hands-on-sony-a7-a7r-vs-olympus-om-d-e-m5-and-canon-5dmkiii/
parallax e2
5 119 United Kingdom
12 Nov 2013 11:55AM
I for one am definitely switching from my 5D2 to the A7R as the image quality is on a par with the D800E whilst be only half the weight. This is a great development for full frame and I will be intrigued to see how other brands respond.
1 Jan 2014 6:44PM
The biggest weakness of MFT is shooting portraits. Almost everyone would agree that the classic shallow DOF portrait shot that you can get with, say, an 85mm f/2 on 35mm full frame, or a 100mm f/4 on 6x6 medium format, with beautiful blurred-out backgrounds, looks eternally great. You just can't achieve that same look on MFT, even with lenses like the M.Zuiko 45/1.8.

That's why I still keep my OM-4 and OM Zuiko 85mm f/2, and some HP-5 and FP-4. I am seriously considering getting an Alpha 7 body for the sole purpose of portrait shooting, but I don't know… the OM-4 is just too cool a camera to abandon!

But, for most general shooting, and DEFINITELY for travel photography, NOTHING beats the form factor of MFT. I carry an MFT body, and lenses spanning 7mm to 200mm (in full frame equivalent: 14mm to 400mm) in a small shoulder bag. That's amazing. I shudder to think how big an equivalent full frame system would be - even if mirror less.

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