Olympus E-M1 II versus Sony A7R II
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the Sony Alpha A7R II are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2016 and June 2015. Both the E-M1 II and the A7R II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-M1 II) and a full frame (A7R II) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 20.2 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Olympus E-M1 II vs Sony A7R II
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M1 II and the Sony A7R II is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the E-M1 II – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M1 II and the Sony A7R IIare of equal size. However, the A7R II is markedly heavier (9 percent) than the E-M1 II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M1 II) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7R II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Olympus E-M1 II»||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Sony A7R II«||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||-|
|Olympus PEN-F« »||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.5 in||15.1 oz||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||16.5 oz||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M1« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||17.5 oz||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399||-|
|Panasonic G9« »||5.4 in||3.8 in||3.6 in||23.2 oz||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699|
|Panasonic GH5« »||5.5 in||3.9 in||3.4 in||25.6 oz||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Panasonic G85« »||5.0 in||3.5 in||2.9 in||17.8 oz||330||Y||Sep 2016||899|
|Panasonic GX8« »||5.2 in||3.1 in||2.5 in||17.2 oz||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A9« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7S II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony A7 II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|Sony A7R« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.4 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299||-|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-M1 II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the A7R II, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison: Olympus E-M1 II vs Sony A7R II
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-M1 II features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A7R II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R II is 283 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the E-M1 II has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A7R II offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 42.2MP, the A7R II offers a higher resolution than the E-M1 II (20.2MP), but the A7R II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 3.34μm for the E-M1 II) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-M1 II is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the A7R II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
Unlike the A7R II, the E-M1 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (50MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7R II offers substantially better image quality than the E-M1 II (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-M1 II»||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Sony A7R II«||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Olympus PEN-F« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M1« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Panasonic G9« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic GH5« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Panasonic G85« »||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|Panasonic GX8« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Sony A7 III« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|Sony A9« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A99 II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Sony A7S II« »||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Sony A7 II« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7R« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Feature comparison: Olympus E-M1 II vs Sony A7R II
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A7R II offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the E-M1 II (2400k vs 2360k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M1 II and Sony A7R II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Olympus E-M1 II»||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||8000||18.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II«||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Olympus PEN-F« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M1« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic G9« »||3680||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||8000||20.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic GH5« »||3680||n||3.2||1620||swivel||Y||8000||12.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic G85« »||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||9.0||Y||Y|
|Panasonic GX8« »||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 III« »||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A9« »||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||8000||20.0||n||Y|
|Sony A99 II« »||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||8000||12.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7S II« »||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 II« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||4.0||n||n|
The E-M1 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A7R II has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R II was succeeded by the Sony Alpha A7R III.
Review summary: Olympus E-M1 II vs Sony A7R II
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-M1 II and the Sony A7R II? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (18 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 3 months after the A7R II).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7R II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 20.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 48%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1037k dots).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2015).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (7 points each). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the E-M1 II and the A7R II in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Olympus E-M1 II»||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Sony A7R II«||HiRec||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199||-|
|Olympus PEN-F« »||-||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||HiRec||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M1« »||HiRec||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399||-|
|Panasonic G9« »||HiRec||85/100||5/5||-||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699|
|Panasonic GH5« »||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Panasonic G85« »||HiRec||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||899|
|Panasonic GX8« »||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Sony A7 III« »||HiRec||89/100||5/5||-||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A9« »||HiRec||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II« »||-||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7S II« »||Rec||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony A7 II« »||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|Sony A7R« »||HiRec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299||-|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Canon 1D Mark III
- Canon 200D vs Olympus E-P5
- Canon 77D vs Pentax 645Z
- Canon 7D II vs Olympus E-M1
- Canon T7 vs Canon 5DS
- Nikon D100 vs Nikon D70
- Nikon D3200 vs Nikon D5300
- Panasonic G80 vs Canon G1 X
- Panasonic GX800 vs Canon M3
- Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D800
- Pentax K-3 II vs Fujifilm X-T20
- Sony RX1 vs Fujifilm X30