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Sony A6000 versus Olympus E-M1 II

The Sony Alpha A6000 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2014 and September 2016. Both the A6000 and the E-M1 II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (A6000) and a Four Thirds (E-M1 II) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 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: Sony A6000 vs Olympus E-M1 II

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A6000 and the Olympus E-M1 II is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 A6000 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony A6000 vs Olympus E-M1 II
A6000 versus E-M1 II top view
A6000 and E-M1 II rear side

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 is considerably larger (52 percent) than the Sony A6000. Moreover, the E-M1 II is substantially heavier (67 percent) than the A6000. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M1 II is splash and dust-proof, while the A6000 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6000) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M1 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 A6000 gets 360 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the E-M1 II can take 440 images on a single charge of its BLH-1 power pack.

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
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 no 2014 599discont. check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 no 2016 1,199 latest check
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 85 mm 45 mm 469 g 310 YES 2015 1,099 latest check
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 94 mm 63 mm 497 g 350 YES 2013 1,399discont. check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 725 g 410 YES 2017 1,999 latest check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 YES 2015 1,199discont. check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 49 mm 404 g 400 YES 2016 999discont. check
Sony A5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 no 2014 549 latest check
Sony A5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 269 g 420 no 2014 449discont. check
Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 no 2013 329discont. check
Sony NEX-3N (⇒ lft | rgt) 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 no 2013 499discont. check
Sony NEX-5T (⇒ lft | rgt) 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 2776 g 330 no 2013 699discont. check
Sony NEX-6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 345 g 360 no 2012 999discont. check
Sony NEX-F3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 no 2012 599discont. check
Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 400 g 430 no 2011 1,349discont. check
Sony NEX-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 no 2010 599discont. check

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 A6000 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 70 percent) than the E-M1 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: Sony A6000 vs Olympus E-M1 II

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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A6000 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-M1 II a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M1 II is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the A6000 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M1 II offers a 4:3 aspect.

Sony A6000 and Olympus E-M1 II sensor measures

With 24MP, the A6000 offers a higher resolution than the E-M1 II (20.2MP), but the A6000 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm 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 2 years and 7 months) than the A6000, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the A6000, 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).

A6000 versus E-M1 II MP

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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 13.1 1347 82
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.7 12.8 1312 80
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 1080/60p 23.1 12.4 894 74
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60p 23.0 12.5 842 73
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p 23.0 12.7 757 73
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/60p 23.9 13.0 807 77
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.5 12.6 806 75
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.4 13.7 1437 85
Sony A5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.8 12.7 1347 80
Sony A5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 19.8 5456 3632 1080/60i 23.8 13.0 1089 79
Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 19.8 5456 3632 1080/60i 23.7 12.8 1068 78
Sony NEX-3N (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4912 3264 1080/60i 22.8 12.5 1067 74
Sony NEX-5T (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4912 3264 1080/60p 23.6 13.0 1015 78
Sony NEX-6 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4912 3264 1080/60i 23.7 13.1 1018 78
Sony NEX-F3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4912 3264 1080/60i 22.7 12.3 1114 73
Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60i 24.1 13.4 1016 81
Sony NEX-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 14.0 4592 3056 720/30p 22.1 12.0 830 68

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 E-M1 II provides a better video resolution than the A6000. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.

Feature comparison: Sony A6000 vs Olympus E-M1 II

Beyond 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 E-M1 II offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A6000 (2360k vs 1440k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A6000 and Olympus E-M1 II along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt) 1440 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 18.0 no YES
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 no 3.2 1620 swivel YES 8000 12.0 no YES
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Sony A5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 6.0 4 no
Sony A5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 461 tilting no 4000 3.5 4 no
Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 202 no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 2.5 6 no
Sony NEX-3N (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 460 tilting no 4000 4.0 4 no
Sony NEX-5T (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 10.0 no no
Sony NEX-6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 921 tilting no 4000 10.0 6 no
Sony NEX-F3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 tilting no 4000 5.5 6 no
Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 921 tilting no 4000 10.0 6 no
Sony NEX-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 tilting no 4000 7.0 no no

The E-M1 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A6000 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A6000 was succeeded by the Sony A6300.

Review summary: Sony A6000 vs Olympus E-M1 II

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Sony A6000 better than the Olympus E-M1 II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6000:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 134x91mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 230g or 40 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 (70 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2014).

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Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 1440k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 922k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (18 vs 11 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (440 versus 360) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 7 months of technical progress since the A6000 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-M1 II is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 7 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

A6000 07:13 E-M1 II

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A6000 or the E-M1 II. 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A6000 (⇒ rgt) Rec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 599discont. check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) - 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2016 1,199 latest check
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 81/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2015 1,099 latest check
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,399discont. check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 1,999 latest check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 1,199discont. check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 85/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 999discont. check
Sony A5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 549 latest check
Sony A5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2014 449discont. check
Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2013 329discont. check
Sony NEX-3N (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2013 499discont. check
Sony NEX-5T (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2013 699discont. check
Sony NEX-6 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 999discont. check
Sony NEX-F3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 74/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 599discont. check
Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 81/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2011 1,349discont. check
Sony NEX-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 70/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4/5 2010 599discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.


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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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