Olympus E-M10 IV vs Sony A1
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and the Sony A1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2020 and January 2021. Both the E-M10 IV and the A1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-M10 IV) and a full frame (A1) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 49.8 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and the Sony A1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M10 IV and the Sony A1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M10 IV can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A1 is notably larger (22 percent) than the Olympus E-M10 IV. Moreover, the A1 is substantially heavier (92 percent) than the E-M10 IV. It is noteworthy in this context that the A1 is splash and dust-proof, while the E-M10 IV does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M10 IV) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A1). 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.
Concerning battery life, the E-M10 IV gets 360 shots out of its BLS-50 battery, while the A1 can take 530 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Olympus E-M10 IV||122 mm||84 mm||49 mm||383 g||360||n||Aug 2020||699|
|2.||Sony A1||129 mm||97 mm||81 mm||737 g||530||Y||Jan 2021||6,499|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|4.||Olympus E-PL10||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Oct 2019||599|
|5.||Olympus E-PL9||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|7.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|8.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|9.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|10.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|11.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|12.||Panasonic G100||116 mm||83 mm||54 mm||352 g||270||n||Jun 2020||649|
|13.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|15.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|17.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The E-M10 IV was launched at a markedly lower price (by 89 percent) than the A1, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-M10 IV features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A1 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-M10 IV has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 49.8MP, the A1 offers a higher resolution than the E-M10 IV (20.2MP), but the A1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.16μm versus 3.34μm for the E-M10 IV) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the E-M10 IV, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further 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.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 43.2 x 28.8 inches or 109.7 x 73.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 34.6 x 23 inches or 87.8 x 58.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 28.8 x 19.2 inches or 73.2 x 48.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-M10 IV are 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A1 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the E-M10 IV, the A1 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (YESMP) 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).
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony A1 are ISO 100 to ISO 32000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 500-102400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-M10 IV||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Sony A1||Full Frame||49.8||8640||5760||8k/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Olympus E-PL10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|9.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|10.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|11.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|12.||Panasonic G100||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|16.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|17.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A1 provides a better video resolution than the E-M10 IV. It can shoot movie footage at 8k/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 4K/30p.
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 A1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the E-M10 IV (9437k vs 2360k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M10 IV and Sony A1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-M10 IV||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||15.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-M10 IV has one, while the A1 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-M10 IV is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The E-M10 IV has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the A1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus E-M10 IV and the Sony A1 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The E-M10 IV writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A1 uses CFexpress or SDXC cards. The A1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-M10 IV only has one slot. Both cameras support UHS-II cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and Sony A1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Olympus E-M10 IV||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A1 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The E-M10 IV lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A1 (unlike the E-M10 IV) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-M10 IV and the A1 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The E-M10 IV replaced the earlier Olympus E-M10 III, while the A1 does not have a direct predecessor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-M10 IV and the Sony A1? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV:
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (15 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x84mm vs 129x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 354g or 48 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (89 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2020).
Advantages of the Sony A1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (49.8 vs 20.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 60%.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (8k/30p vs 4K/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (9437k vs 2360k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.9x vs 0.62x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 1040k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (530 versus 360) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (5 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A1 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M10 IV and the Sony A1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-M10 IV or the A1. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Olympus E-M10 IV||4.5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2020||699|
|2.||Sony A1||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2021||6,499|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|4.||Olympus E-PL10||..||..||77/100||..||4/5||Oct 2019||599|
|5.||Olympus E-PL9||..||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||..||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|7.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|8.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|9.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|10.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|11.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|12.||Panasonic G100||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2020||649|
|13.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|15.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|17.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Olympus E-M10 IV vs Sony A1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Olympus E-M10 IV||Sony A1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2020||January 2021|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 6,499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M10 IV||Sony A1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels||49.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||8640 x 5760 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.34 μm||4.16 μm|
|Pixel Density||8.96 MP/cm2||5.78 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||8k/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 32,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||500 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VIII||Dual BIONZ XR|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M10 IV||Sony A1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||9437k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M10 IV||Sony A1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||15 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CFexpress or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M10 IV||Sony A1|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.2|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M10 IV||Sony A1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||530 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
122 x 84 x 49 mm
(4.8 x 3.3 x 1.9 in)
129 x 97 x 81 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||383 g (13.5 oz)||737 g (26.0 oz)|
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