Sony A7R II vs YI M1
The Sony Alpha A7R II and the YI M1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2015 and September 2016. Both the A7R II and the M1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7R II) and a Four Thirds (M1) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 42.2 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 A7R II 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7R II and the YI M1. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A7R 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 YI M1 is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Sony A7R II. Moreover, the M1 is substantially lighter (55 percent) than the A7R II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7R II 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 (A7R II) 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|2.||YI M1||114 mm||64 mm||34 mm||281 g||450||n||Sep 2016||349|
|3.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|4.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|5.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A3||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||n||Aug 2016||399|
|7.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|8.||Nikon 1 J5||98 mm||60 mm||32 mm||231 g||250||n||Apr 2015||399|
|9.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|11.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|12.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|13.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|16.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|17.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|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 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 89 percent) than the A7R 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.
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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A7R II features a full frame sensor and the YI M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the M1 is 74 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 A7R II has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 42.2MP, the A7R II offers a higher resolution than the M1 (20.2MP), but the A7R II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 3.34μm for the M1) due to its larger sensor. However, the M1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the A7R II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A7R II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7R II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7R II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inches or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inches or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inches or 67.3 x 44.9 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 A7R II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A7R II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the YI M1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (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.
| DXO |
|1.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|2.||YI M1||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|8.||Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65|
|9.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|11.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|12.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|13.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|15.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|16.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|17.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, 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 A7R II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A7R II, the YI M1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|8.||Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|9.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the A7R II and the M1 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A7R II 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 A7R 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 YI M1 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 A7R II writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the M1 uses SDXC cards. The A7R II supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), 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 A7R II and YI M1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7R II 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.
The M1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of YI. In contrast, the A7R II has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R II was succeeded by the Sony Alpha A7R III. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A7R II or the YI M1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R II:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (42.2 vs 20.2MP) with a 48% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- 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 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 detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1040k 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 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- 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 heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2015).
Arguments in favor of the YI M1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (114x64mm vs 127x96mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 344g or 55 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (450 versus 290) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (89 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 3 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R II is the clear winner of the match-up (19 : 9 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 A7R II 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the A7R II and the M1 in practical situations. 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.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|2.||YI M1||..||..||69/100||..||..||Sep 2016||349|
|3.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|4.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|5.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A3||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2016||399|
|7.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|8.||Nikon 1 J5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||399|
|9.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|10.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|11.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|12.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|13.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|16.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|17.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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. 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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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: Sony A7R II 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 A7R II||YI M1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2015||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 3,199||USD 349|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A7R II||YI M1|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||42.2 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7952 x 5304 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.52 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.90 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||98||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||26.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.9||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3434||..|
|Screen Specs||Sony A7R II||YI M1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1229k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A7R II||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||5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||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||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A7R II||YI M1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||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||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Sony A7R II||YI M1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||290 shots per charge||450 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
127 x 96 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)
114 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||625 g (22.0 oz)||281 g (9.9 oz)|
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