Olympus E-PL1 vs Sony A7S II
The Olympus PEN E-PL1 and the Sony Alpha 7S II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2010 and September 2015. Both the E-PL1 and the A7S II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL1) and a full frame (A7S II) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 12 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 PEN E-PL1 and the Sony Alpha 7S II? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL1 and the Sony A7S II. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL1 can be obtained in four different colors (black, blue, yellow, white), while the A7S II 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 A7S II is considerably larger (47 percent) than the Olympus E-PL1. Moreover, the A7S II is substantially heavier (88 percent) than the E-PL1. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7S II is splash and dust-proof, while the E-PL1 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-PL1) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7S 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.
Concerning battery life, the E-PL1 gets 290 shots out of its BLS-1 battery, while the A7S II can take 370 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A7S II can be charged via the USB port, 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. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|Olympus E-PL1||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||11.8 oz||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Sony A7S II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Olympus E-PL9||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||13.4 oz||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|Olympus E-P3||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.0 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||12.8 oz||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus E-620||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-P1||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|Olympus E-P2||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|Panasonic G10||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||13.7 oz||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|Panasonic GF2||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|Sony A7S III||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.2 in||24.7 oz||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|Sony A99 II||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7S||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||17.2 oz||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PL1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 80 percent) than the A7S II, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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-PL1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A7S II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7S II is 276 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-PL1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A7S II offers a 3:2 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Olympus E-PL1 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the Sony A7S II. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 8.40μm for the A7S II). Moreover, it should be noted that the A7S II is much more recent (by 5 years and 7 months) than the E-PL1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The Olympus PEN E-PL1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha 7S II are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-409600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7S II offers substantially better image quality than the E-PL1 (overall score 31 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.1 bits higher color depth, 3.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.6 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.
| DXO |
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7S II provides a better video resolution than the E-PL1. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7S II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-PL1 and Sony A7S II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-PL1 has one, while the A7S II does not. While the built-in flash of the E-PL1 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
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, the A7S II is one of those camera that have an additional 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 E-PL1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the A7S II uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A7S II supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the E-PL1 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 PEN E-PL1 and Sony Alpha 7S II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7S II offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-PL1 does not provide wifi capability.
Both the E-PL1 and the A7S II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL1 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL2, while the A7S II was followed by the Sony A7S III. 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-PL1 and the Sony A7S II? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL1:
- More compact: Is smaller (115x72mm vs 127x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 293g or 47 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 (80 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2010).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha 7S II:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (31 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.6 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/30p).
- 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.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (370 versus 290) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-PL1 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7S II is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 5 points). 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. 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-PL1 and the Sony A7S II 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-PL1 or the A7S II perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Olympus E-PL1||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Sony A7S II||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Olympus E-PL9||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|Olympus E-P3||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus E-620||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||o||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-P1||+||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|Olympus E-P2||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|Panasonic G10||..||70/100||4/5||..||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|Panasonic GF2||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|Sony A7S III||+ +||..||4.5/5||..||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|Sony A99 II||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7S||..||86/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Olympus E-PL1 vs Sony A7S II
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-PL1||Sony A7S II|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||September 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 2,999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony A7S II|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||4240 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||8.40 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||1.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 409,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||Truepic V||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||54||85|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.1||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||487||2993|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony A7S II|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony A7S II|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony A7S II|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony A7S II|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||290 shots per charge||370 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
115 x 72 x 42 mm
(4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
127 x 96 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)
|Camera Weight||334 g (11.8 oz)||627 g (22.1 oz)|
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