Sony A7R vs YI M1
The Sony Alpha A7R and the YI M1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2013 and September 2016. Both the A7R and the M1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7R) and a Four Thirds (M1) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 36.2 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.
|Sony A7R||YI M1|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Sony E mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|36.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor||20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 51,200)||ISO 100-25,600|
|Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|3.0 LCD, 1230k dots||3.0 LCD, 1040k dots|
|Tilting screen (no touchscreen)||Fixed touchscreen|
|4 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|340 shots per battery charge||450 shots per battery charge|
|127 x 94 x 48 mm, 465 g||114 x 64 x 34 mm, 281 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha A7R 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 and the YI M1. 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 M1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A7R 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 (39 percent) than the Sony A7R. Moreover, the M1 is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the A7R. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7R 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) 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 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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Sony A7R||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.4 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|YI M1||4.5 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.9 oz||450||n||Sep 2016||349|
|Canon SX730||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.6 in||10.6 oz||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|Fujifilm X-A3||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.6 in||12.0 oz||410||n||Aug 2016||399|
|Nikon 1 J5||3.9 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||8.1 oz||250||n||Apr 2015||399|
|Nikon D810||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Panasonic GX850||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||210||n||Jan 2017||549|
|Panasonic GF7||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.4 oz||230||n||Jan 2015||499|
|Sony A7 III||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A7R III||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony RX1R II||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.9 oz||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299|
|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|
|Sony A7||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Sony RX1R||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.0 oz||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|Sony RX1||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.0 oz||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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
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 M1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 85 percent) than the A7R, 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 Sony A7R 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 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 36.2MP, the A7R offers a higher resolution than the M1 (20.2MP), but the A7R nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 3.34μm for the M1) due to its larger sensor. However, the M1 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 11 months) than the A7R, and its sensor will 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 A7R has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7R implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7R for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 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 Sony Alpha A7R has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-51200. 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 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. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|YI M1||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65|
|Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73|
|Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97|
|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|
|Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
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, but the M1 provides a better video resolution than the A7R. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7R 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A7R and YI M1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The M1 has a touchscreen, while the A7R has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
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 writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the M1 uses SDXC cards. The A7R 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 and YI M1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7R 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 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R was succeeded by the Sony A7R II. 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 A7R and the YI M1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (36.2 vs 20.2MP) with a 37% 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 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 (1230k 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.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- 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 available for much longer (launched in October 2013).
Advantages of the YI M1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (114x64mm vs 127x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 184g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (450 versus 340) 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 (85 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the A7R launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 11 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 Sony A7R 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 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 A7R or the M1 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.
|Sony A7R||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|YI M1||..||69/100||..||2.5/5||..||Sep 2016||349|
|Canon SX730||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|Fujifilm X-A3||..||74/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Aug 2016||399|
|Nikon 1 J5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||399|
|Nikon D810||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Panasonic GX850||+||76/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||549|
|Panasonic GF7||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||499|
|Sony A7 III||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A7R III||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony RX1R II||..||82/100||..||o||4.5/5||Oct 2015||3,299|
|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|
|Sony A7||+ +||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Sony RX1R||..||..||4/5||o||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|Sony RX1||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||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 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: Sony A7R 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||YI M1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2013||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 2,299||USD 349|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A7R||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||36.2 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7360 x 4912 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.88 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.20 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.6||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.1||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2746||..|
|Screen Specs||Sony A7R||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||1230k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A7R||YI M1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|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||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||YI M1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||340 shots per charge||450 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
127 x 94 x 48 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
114 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||465 g (16.4 oz)||281 g (9.9 oz)|
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