The non A7 test.
I want to buy an A7. Since I shoot people and I really like evf cameras, I wanted tracking autofocus, I like the smaller form factor for a lot of our work, when I heard of the FF Sony went straight to the Sony store and shot to a card. Obviously in store photography is difficult and not the way I shoot.
i'll admit since I use the 43 cameras for some of our video and absolutely love the olympus omd e-5 I expected the full frame sony to blow it in the water.
The first results shocked me.
The A7 had double shutter blur and that egg shell effect, but these were jpegs.
So I went back and did it again with raw comparing my em-5. The Sony A7 I kept at 1250 iso and The oly at 1000.
This time shot raws and was positive the Sony would just bury the olympus considering the em-5 it's a previous generation camera.
Came back to the studio and really had nothing to compare. Nearly every frame from the Sony has shutter blur (or some kind of blur) where the Olympus was crazy spot on in focus and sharpness.
Granted the olympus had more noise by about 20%, but pretty noise and I could kill it in software, though I like the look of a little film like grain.
So I tested a third time.
This time found a dealer that had both the new omd em1 and the Sony a7, set them both up as close as possible with low noise reduction and equivalent lenses.
Took a laptop that was calibrated and went in and shot and shot and shot.
Looking at the raws, I would have sworn the the files from the omd were full frame in quality, the A7 being the 43 crop. In fact there was such a difference I was positive we did something wrong, did it again, all at 800 iso.
Bottom line, the Sony files had a global color look where the olympus had specific colors that were obvious.
Putting each camera side by side both with the right angle grip the A7 felt lightweight and flimsy where the olympus felt titanium solid.
If I didn't know better and was asked price, I'd say the Olympus would cost more, but it's the opposite.
But the build quality is the real kicker. I don't shoot PJ work but I'd fell more secure to take the olympus into a war zone than the sony.
Also the Oly track focus was far superior to the Sony and the viewfinder of the olympus if way superior in look and size. On the Sony you see jagged lines on hard subjects that are kind of like looking at tv screen, where the Olympus when adjusted looks like a film.
With the Olympus I never think of it as an electronic viewfinder the Son never let's you forget it's a miniature tv.
Once again the file detail and look was very different. The sony soft and though less noise, had that caking, egg shell look on skintones and the focus would be on then off, then on and this was shooting a stationary subject.
Though the Sony has more resolution the olympus had more real detail.
Also given the fact he focus points on the oly covered more territory and it has more adjustable crops from 4:3 , 2:3 to 16x9.
But the main thing is the file. The olympus has more noise which as I say can be reduced either in post or camera, but with some thoughtful processing it can be set to a film like look. The Oly produces a very non digital looking image.
The color response is what I love. Other than my medium format backs, no smaller format has that separate color look, which allows a lot of adjustable movement in post.
So I bought an em-1 to go with my em-5's and my gh3(s) I use for video.
The olympus isn't perfect and it took me an evening to make adjustments where it would match the em-5 (which I still think has a little better look0, but once set, the Olympus becomes intuitive
I debated on whether to show this image, shot at a sony store with three types of available light sources, LED's from the multitude of tv screens, fluorescence from the counters and tungsten from the the overheads, along with gelled lights everywhere.This is NOT a portfolio image
and I took it in about 4 seconds and I'd show the Sony file but it wouldn't be fare, because the sony has motion blur and regardless of setting has either a global orange color or a corrected neutral with a lot of noise in the blue channel.
Also with this OLY image I purposely crushed the blacks though there is detail in all the shadows if I want to go that way.
This is a very difficult lighting situation for any camera to hit color, because of all the difference sources.
(cropped from a horizontal frame, 1000 iso, no noie reduction, 75mm f2, 200th of a second).
Same image at 100%http://www.russellrutherford.com/stony_store_large.jpg
Also remember I like to accent grain, not always make it disappear, though i easily could.
Keep in mind I went to buy the Sony, nothing else, never planned on another m43 camera, but I couldn't deny every test.
PS If I shot only tripod and wanted more resolution at low iso's and use converted canon lenses, I might go with the A7r, but for what I do, the sony just didn't compete with the em-1.
I know most people won't believe it, but my suggestion is to try both, because I think you'll be surprised.