Sony A7 III vs YI M1
The Sony Alpha A7 III and the YI M1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2018 and September 2016. Both the A7 III and the M1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7 III) and a Four Thirds (M1) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the YI provides 20.2 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 Sony Alpha A7 III and the YI M1? 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 physical size and weight of the Sony A7 III and the YI M1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A7 III 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 YI M1 is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Sony A7 III. Moreover, the M1 is substantially lighter (57 percent) than the A7 III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7 III is splash and dust resistant, while the M1 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 Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7 III) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (M1). 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 battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.
|1.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|2.||YI M1||114 mm||64 mm||34 mm||281 g||450||n||Sep 2016||349|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|6.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|7.||Fujifilm X-A3||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||n||Aug 2016||399|
|8.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Nikon 1 J5||98 mm||60 mm||32 mm||231 g||250||n||Apr 2015||399|
|10.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|11.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|12.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|13.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|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 A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The M1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 83 percent) than the A7 III, 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 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. 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 Sony A7 III features a full frame sensor and the YI M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the M1 is 73 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the A7 III has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the A7 III offers a higher resolution than the M1 (20.2MP), but the A7 III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.34μm for the M1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7 III is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the M1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7 III 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 YI M1 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 A7 III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A7 III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the YI M1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|2.||YI M1||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|8.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|9.||Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65|
|10.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|11.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|12.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|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 A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7 III has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the M1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A7 III and YI M1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|9.||Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|10.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||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 A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the A7 III and the M1 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A7 III reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the M1 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
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 A7 III 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 Sony A7 III and the YI M1 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 A7 III writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the M1 uses SDXC cards. The A7 III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M1 only has one slot. The A7 III supports UHS-II cards on its first slot and UHS-I on its second one, while the M1 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 Sony Alpha A7 III and YI M1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||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 A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7 III has a microphone port, which is missing on the M1. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the A7 III and the M1 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The A7 III replaced the earlier Sony A7 II, while the M1 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 Sony and YI websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7 III and the YI M1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7 III:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- 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.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (610 versus 450) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II and UHS-I) SDXC cards.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 5 months after the M1).
Advantages of the YI M1:
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (114x64mm vs 127x96mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 369g or 57 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (83 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2016).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7 III is the clear winner of the match-up (21 : 5 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. 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 Sony A7 III and the YI M1 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A7 III or the M1 perform in practice. 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 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.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|2.||YI M1||..||..||69/100||..||..||Sep 2016||349|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|6.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|7.||Fujifilm X-A3||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2016||399|
|8.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Nikon 1 J5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||399|
|10.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|11.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|12.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|13.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|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 A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? 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: Sony A7 III vs YI M1
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||Sony A7 III||YI M1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2018||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 349|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A7 III||YI M1|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.6 x 23.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||847.28 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||42.8 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.83 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||96||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.7||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3730||..|
|Screen Specs||Sony A7 III||YI M1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||no 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||922k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A7 III||YI M1|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||Single UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A7 III||YI M1|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Sony A7 III||YI M1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||610 shots per charge||450 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
127 x 96 x 74 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
114 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||650 g (22.9 oz)||281 g (9.9 oz)|
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