Olympus E-PL8 vs Sony NEX-7
The Olympus PEN E-PL8 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2016 and August 2011. Both the E-PL8 and the NEX-7 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL8) and an APS-C (NEX-7) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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-PL8 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7? 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-PL8 and the Sony NEX-7. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL8 can be obtained in three different colors (black, brown, white), while the NEX-7 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 NEX-7 is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Olympus E-PL8. Moreover, the NEX-7 is markedly heavier (12 percent) than the E-PL8. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL8 nor the NEX-7 are weather-sealed.
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-PL8) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-7). 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 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-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
|3.||Fujifilm X100||126 mm||75 mm||54 mm||445 g||300||n||Sep 2010||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-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|8.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||n||Apr 2016||799|
|13.||Panasonic G7||125 mm||86 mm||77 mm||410 g||350||n||May 2015||649|
|14.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|15.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|16.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329|
|17.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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 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-PL8 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 59 percent) than the NEX-7, 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-PL8 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-7 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-7 is 62 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-PL8 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-7 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24MP, the NEX-7 offers a higher resolution than the E-PL8 (15.9MP), but the NEX-7 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL8) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-PL8 is a much more recent model (by 5 years) than the NEX-7, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-7 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL8 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus PEN E-PL8 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.6||1030||73|
|4.||Olympus E-PL10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.3||13.1||1324||76|
|5.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.1||12.8||1162||74|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.1||12.8||1120||74|
|7.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|8.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.5||12.0||717||68|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71|
|13.||Panasonic G7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||904||71|
|17.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
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 NEX-7 provides a faster frame rate than the E-PL8. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the NEX-7 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL8 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL8 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-PL8 and Sony NEX-7 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-PL8||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|3.||Fujifilm X100||1440||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Olympus E-PL10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-PL9||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-PL7||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||2765||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|13.||Panasonic G7||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0||Y||n|
|14.||Sony A6400||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n|
|15.||Sony A6000||1440||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n|
|16.||Sony A3000||202||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|17.||Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
One feature that differentiates the E-PL8 and the NEX-7 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PL8 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the NEX-7 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The E-PL8 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 NEX-7 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Olympus E-PL8 has 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-PL8 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-7 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The E-PL8 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-7 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-PL8 and Sony Alpha NEX-7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-PL8||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Fujifilm X100||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-PL10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-PL9||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-PL7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic G7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Sony A6400||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A6000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A3000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony RX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the E-PL8 offers wifi support, while the NEX-7 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the E-PL8 and the NEX-7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL8 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL9, while the NEX-7 does not have a direct successor. 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 what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-PL8 better than the Sony NEX-7 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL8:
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 921k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 43g or 11 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (59 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years of technical progress since the NEX-7 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-7:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (430 versus 350) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2011).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL8 emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 8 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-PL8 and the Sony NEX-7 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-PL8 and the NEX-7 in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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-PL8||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|2.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|3.||Fujifilm X100||3/5||..||..||75/100||4/5||5/5||Sep 2010||1,199|
|4.||Olympus E-PL10||..||..||4/5||77/100||..||4/5||Oct 2019||599|
|5.||Olympus E-PL9||..||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||..||+||5/5||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|7.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|8.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|9.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|10.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|12.||Panasonic GX85||4.5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2016||799|
|13.||Panasonic G7||4/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||May 2015||649|
|14.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||4/5||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|15.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||4.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|16.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329|
|17.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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.
- Canon 450D vs Olympus E-PL8
- Canon 650D vs Sony NEX-7
- Canon 70D vs Sony NEX-7
- Canon 7D vs Sony NEX-7
- Canon G16 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Fujifilm GFX 100S vs Sony NEX-7
- Leica D-LUX 7 vs Sony NEX-7
- Nikon D4S vs Olympus E-PL8
- Olympus E-M10 vs Sony NEX-7
- Olympus E-PL8 vs Olympus E-PL9
- Olympus E-PL8 vs Panasonic GX8
- Olympus E-PL8 vs Samsung NX500
Specifications: Olympus E-PL8 vs Sony NEX-7
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-PL8||Sony NEX-7|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2016||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 1,349|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL8||Sony NEX-7|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||6.57 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePic VII||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1016|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL8||Sony NEX-7|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL8||Sony NEX-7|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL8||Sony NEX-7|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL8||Sony NEX-7|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||430 shots per charge|
115 x 67 x 38 mm
(4.5 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
120 x 67 x 43 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||357 g (12.6 oz)||400 g (14.1 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.