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Andrew Reid

Battle of the mirrorless monsters - Sony A7R vs Olympus OM-D E-M1

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Can Olympus survive? The scandal is over, but sales are faltering. Their prized position in the mirrorless market is threatened by a revitalised Sony and their Alpha range. This succeeds the NEX line and brings full frame sensors to the table along with 36MP and nearly 14 stops dynamic range.

My full review of the Sony A7R is coming soon, ditto for the E-M1.

Until then let's take a look at how the top of the range mirrorless cameras perform head to head - not just at video but stills too.

Read the full article here

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I was a bit surprised about Sony's video when the first hands-on started to surface. Actually it's not like I was surprised but more like I expected them to be better, even more when Sony added so many video feats - even Zebra! But I was not surprised in the sense that Sony does more marketing about their video rather than real improvements. I rememeber when the A99 was supposed to be the ultimate Hybrid and well, it wasn't.

 

As I've said before, I congratulate Sony for taking this step and being the first FF mirrorless camera but at the same time, I already expected some compromises by Sony, because they are always there. For me, Sony is like a teenager full of energy, always trying something new, regardless if it really makes sense or not, sometimes they hit big and other times, they don't and fail miserably. But with that spirit it also comes lack of focus and commitment since, just like a teenager, Sony changes their mind too quickly for a long term type of product like a photographic system.

 

One year the focus was on the A-mount, they basically release the whole line up, top to bottom in a single year, except for the FF. Next year they focus on high-end E-mount, they even released relevant lenses, but then, they completely ignore A-mount APS-C, they come with the A99, RX1, just so they change their focus again towards FF E-mount. The same year they released more high-end lenses for E-mount APS-C. E-mount APS-C is full of $300 and $1000, there is almost no in-between. WTF. I won't even comment about lenses for A-mount lately.

 

Sony was bold, they put mirrorless on the map again and that brought lots of hype with it, some even compared that to major break through like the iPhone. It can't be the iPhone yet, photography is about the system and who knows if those 15 lenses are really going to be delivered, but more importantly, which lenses. Sometimes Sony opts for some odd focal lenses and too often they focus on a bunch of zoom lenses. And just like any other Zeiss made by Sony, you can expect overpriced lenses. So is this a message that FF E-mount is only for those that can afford expensive lenses? What's the point of having a camera to pair up with the D610/6D if there are only expensive lenses? So people will only use legacy lenses with adapter?

 

I wanna wait and see the next generation of FF E-mount to understand better and get a grasp of what Sony wants with it. With such a small body, Sony made some compromises, which explains why the shutter is so loud and unlike all recent cameras from Sony, they can't perform 10 fps burst. And I find really odd the compromises that you have to make and choose between the A7 and A7r. One has more MP but it's slower, one has all-metal and the other has a few plastic parts, one is better for video and the other has better AF - and probably better AF in video mode as well. They are such weird choices to make. Usually one is better, period. That's why I want to see Sony's next step, which are the other lenses. There are rumors about a hybrid A and E-mount as well.

 

It's not my intention to over criticize Sony so early, although with their history with commitment and direction, you are allowed to wonder about it but that's why I want to wait and see what they are up to. There has to be a FF E-mount without so many compromises, who is Sony's target? Are they aiming at getting mirrorless high-end/PRO - even more with the lens price - or are they also aiming at DSLR pros? Or will Sony use the FF A-mount for that? For how long the A-mount is going to use SLT technology instead of going mirrorless all the way, so AF tech can catch up with DSLRs? Is this about just stills or will Sony actually make video better rather than just gimmicks? Will there be a sensor like the one from RX10, a FF that can make full readout? Sony is still testing the market to see how they respond, who is buying the A7/R.

 

More importantly, what is Sony going to do with the other line ups? I hope that with the NEX-7 successor on the horizon it also comes with a roadmap for APS-C E-mount. How much sense does the APS-C A-mount make? Who would buy a A-mount APS-C? Also, I want to know how other companies are going to respond to Sony.

 

I don't have the money to afford FF E-mount lenses and even if I had, I couldn't invest so heavily in a system without knowing what the system is all about. The word "system" is really key, it's not just about the cameras, it's about the lenses as well. It's too early to coclude anything - including lots of hyperboles I've been reading.

 

But as always, I'm looking forward for all of this, photo/video world has been pretty exciting lately.

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Yet another idiotic 'look' at this camera... Because there is nothing like it people seem to try to compare it to a number of other things and that just doesn't work. 

 

Let's start with the most glaringly obvious of these - You start by saying that after using this camera you bought a D700. Two sentences down you start moaning (like nobody have ever mentioned it before) that the primes don't have IS (or OSS, or whatever you want to call it). So Andrew, would you like to point me to the IS primes you use with your D700 instead? Well? Hmmm... 

 

See the thing is, when you start comparing something like this to multiple cameras, because there is no direct competition, things get muddied. Every single 'review' of this camera goes (in a round-about way) to this conclusion:

 

1. The camera doesn't have the IBIS of the Olympus (it's mirror less competition)

2. It doesn't have the AF of a 5D MkIII etc (It's full frame competition) 

 

The problem with this is the FF competition doesn't have the IS of the Olympus either, but that gets forgotten about, and the Olympus doesn't have the AF tracking of the FF DSLRs. Nobody expects the Olympus to focus track like a FF DSLR and nobody expects the FF DSLRs to have 5-Axis IBIS... But somehow, because the Sony is a full frame AND a mirror less it is expected to have both?

 

I'm not suggesting the camera is perfect, FAR from it, but I just struggle to understand the lack of thought that goes into these comparisons. You can't bash it from both sides I guess is the point. Either it's a mirror less and needs to be compared to other mirror less or it's a DSLR alternative, don't go stacking cons from both piles and say 'look it's crap because it isn't better than both of these cameras'.

 

Then getting onto the lens comparison with a speed booster, yes a speed booster will help, but it is only going to close the gap between m43's and APS-C, so still looking at a stop behind. So with the Sigma 'f1.3' we are really talking about an f2.8 zoom on the Sony, both of which are available and both would be MF, though the Olympus with have IS. 

 

What about some other, native lenses though... Well let's compare the 'crap range of lenses' that Sony have released thus far in m43's terms, they have 5 lenses announced at launch, 5 more this year, 5 next. The 5 we have at the moment would require m43's to have the following native lenses to compensate for the difference in sensor, but not resolution:

 

14-35mm f1.8-2.8 OSS (this is the cheap-assed 'kit' lens that comes with your body for $200). 

12-35mm f2 OSS

35-100mm f2 OSS

17mm f1.4

27mm f0.95

 

All of these AF, are native mount and the zooms have IS. m43's users would be squealing and shaking with excitement had Olympus released such lenses for m43's, especially at what is a fairly modest cost, yet all there seems to be are complaints. 

 

I know this is a video oriented site, so the IS of the Olympus bodies and the codec choices, sensor readout etc are all important in this regard and the Sony is mostly CRAP in all these regards and it shows (though some other usability features are actually kind of nice), video on the A7/R sucks. 

 

Stills however are a different matter entirely. 

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I own the Sony A7 and I love what it has done to my legacy lens collection. The images are everything I expected from this capturing device.

 

But we live in a new age of photography—and video now plays a large role. If the E-M1 is anything like the E-M5 (only better), then the A7/R falls severely short of the mark.

 

BTW, great reading!

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Hello guy's
First of all I would like to start off by saying that I am new to the world of camera's and photography .
Up untill about five weeks ago I wouldnt be able to tell the difference between a through away camera and a camcorder ! My dilema is this ? Five weeks ago I asked my wee boy what he wanted for his tenth birthday as I had all his christmas presents in four day's after christmas is his birthday so I was scratching my head on what to get
To any readers this story is totally unrelated to the topic in matter and apolagise maybe (eoshd) can transfer this post to a topic that fits.
Anyway I was scratching my head on what to get him and he said he would like to get a camcorder for youtube because his friends are doing the same thing so I thought sure noproblem . I done a bit of research online and found that camcorders were a waste of money acording to some sites they are not any better than the smart phone I have in my pocket well the cheap camcorders . I wasnt looking to spend much money anyway being so close to christmas I was skint . Further research led me to beginer dslr camera's
Sites were saying they were great for video and you can also take nice family photographs . So this might be the rout I should take a beginner for my boy to learn on if he likes it he can grow with the camera if not then I can recoup some money back something I would not have been possible with a cheap video cam .
More research was pointing towards the canon entry levels they had all functions that I needed or "my boy" needed the more I read the more I was learning my self about photography . I dont follow the crowd I usually think for myself and never fall for marketing tricks so when I buy a product I outweigh the pro's and con's before hand
At this stage it is becoming obsessive I am now offically hooked to photography
The more I keep reading and learning the more I love it for someone who hasn't owned a camera in his life . But is giving me headaches I dont know what camera to buy on a budget ! Five weeks in the making sleeless nights of constant reading about all the different brands learning what makes a camera work disecting every single entry level camera how they work, how their processors work, who has the best processors, wow the picture gets to the processor, video code, very exhausting indeed so I have narrowed it down to what I am looking for in a camera and is still very extensive (haha)
For me video first then picture quality so what I have read "bitrate" seems to be the biggest factor in video so the higher the bitrate = smoother video quality I had to find the the best processer expeed 4, digic 5, bionz, after extensive research for me its got to be the expeed 4 built by fuji used by nikon there are the only one to shoot from rooftops that every time they make a new prossecor for the camera its the biggest and fastest and it is not hard to see why . The board of camera's processors is made up of micro processors designed form diffrent tasks like process light, picture, colour, focus, bitrate etc etc, nikon claim expeed 4 can process 600 megapixel per second so if every frame is Say 2 megapixel (1080) still . do the math and work that 600 megapixels into any frame rate giving you plenty of room to run smoothly
When a picture is took it is extracted through the sensor in black and white (greyscale) and digitalised into pixels , coloured diodes are added into the pixels (rgb) red , green , blue , and this is were it gets technical each brand has there own
Algorithms wrote for these for example picture those three coloured diodes (rgb) mixing together to make the start of a picture like digital jigsaw puzzle
Each each diode pixel emulating a jigsaw piece to make the biger picture
Each brands algorithm written can be shaped for example iam sure that it is olympus that likes more blue in the picture to complement the sky nikon likes to use more green because visible light as we know is actually in the green spectrum .
So algorithms are wrote to bend colours in your favour to which each brand feels will work in there favour. If I were to design a camera for say cinematic use it would be a compact systems camera with the strongest processor to deal with a high bitrate no focus function because it burns a lot of pro power I wouldnt need this function
An algorithm wrote to show more greyscale colour for more cinematic experrience
Of course there is more to that needs added in the internal side of things but my point is less bells and whistles the better the processor runs less overheating meaning less noise , also aps c sized sensor and adapted to take any cine lens sorted kickstarter here I come ha ha
So I have more or less came to my final conclusion on what camera to pick that would suit my wee boy for my budget first wait for the new nikon d3300 , canon eos m and the sony nex 5t, I just missed out on the eos m for a hundred pound with pancake lens I know it is not to everybody's taste but for its price there is no better
So as I end with this long post not relating to any topic I was sharing my own thoughts on somebody that didnt have a clue a few weeks back to someone who is now very facinated in photography now
And with a little research we can all get a cannon 5d iii equivalent haha ,

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To make matters worse the A7R has no in-body stabilisation like the A99, not even electronic stabilisation in video mode like the RX1. That’s nuts! If you’re not using one of Sony’s zoom lenses with stabilisation, you miss out altogether.

 

Well, you are entitled to your opinion, of course. Although I have to wonder whether that's really based on a real, life or death necessity in the practical life, or just about being conditioned to the (over)hype. That is, as long as stills shooting is concerned, not video.

Both of these cameras are first and foremost stills shooting devices, and video is only a secondary feature, unfortunately. Nevertheless, both stills and video is mentioned in the story, so that's a valid excuse for some nit-picking, isn't it. 

 

I for one don't see the lack of IS as a matter of keeping one's sanity. I see it more like a matter of taste. More like a nice to have, rather than a must. You can get along just fine without it, no big deal. Again, as far as stills shooting is concerned. 

 

Way before the IS was invented, in the ancient times of film, people were able to get nice stills shots without any in-camera or in-lens stabilisation system whatsoever. None (or only a very few) of those people were nuts, though. They just adapted to the situation at hand. In other words, the lack of an IS system being nuts is highly subjective.

 

As for electronic stabilisation in the sensor, I for one am actually glad that Sony hasn't got it, and fortunately one can turn it off when it's there.

 

Anyway, the IS nit-picking and stills shooting aside, how is the EM1 with video at 25fps, does it do it?

I was under the impression that it only does 30fps, regardless of the region. Which sounds like a bit of a bummer. Or how is it in real life?

 

 

Battle of the mirrorless monsters - Sony A7R vs Olympus OM-D E-M1

 

I don't really see the battle. Any more so than between any given dSLR's with different brands and different sensor sizes. The only thing those two have in common is the lack of a flipping mirror. Two quite different, albeit seemingly similar tools, in very different price categories. 

 

Can Olympus survive?

 

Yes.

 

 

But somehow, because the Sony is a full frame AND a mirror less it is expected to have both?

 

I'm not suggesting the camera is perfect, FAR from it, but I just struggle to understand the lack of thought that goes into these comparisons. You can't bash it from both sides I guess is the point. Either it's a mirror less and needs to be compared to other mirror less or it's a DSLR alternative, don't go stacking cons from both piles and say 'look it's crap because it isn't better than both of these cameras'

 

I don't think one can blame Mr. Reid alone for that sort of thing. That's what hype in the social media does, and how the internet amplifies the expectations, both realistic and unreasonable. It's not just about the A7r or the EM1, the same happens every time a hot new toy gets in the hype machine. The same was true for the Nikon Df, too, for example. Or just think about the smartphones and stuff.  It's clearly visible all around the internets. This forum is not an exception, it's just a part of that big hype amp.

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I can't speak to the quality of the A7/R, because I have never seen one in person. My sister has an E-M1, though, and I got to spend the weekend playing with it. I can say these two things with certainty:
 

- The build quality is incredible
- It is an absolutely cracking still camera

Seriously, it takes incredible stills. Pictures are sharp and the color is phenomenal, with the JPEG engine being especially impressive. It wasn't comprehensive testing by any means, but with the Oly 45 1.8 and the Panasonic 14 2.5, I got pictures that were at least as good as any APS-C camera I had ever shot. Again, I wasn't zooming way down to pixel level and doing direct comparisons, but I was incredibly pleased with my shots.

On top of that, the video functionality is awesome! The bitrate is a little low for my liking (I am a GH3 owner :)) and 30p only is disappointing, but neither of these things struck me as dealbreakers when I got the footage onto her laptop and started looking at it. 5-axis IBIS is incredibly cool and the footage looks really nice. A firmware update that gave us focus peaking in video and 24/25p would be all I'd need to buy one (and I may do it regardless).

Looking forward to your review, Andrew!

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Judged in isolation the A7R lacking IS isn't such a big deal but remember, this is a comparison and you are comparing a camera with the world's best stabilisation to one with absolutely none, unless you use a Sony 24-70mm F4 for £1100 or a crappy kit zoom, also with a slow aperture.

 

At least Canon and Nikon have a big range of IS lenses you can choose from when you need it, including fast primes like the new 35mm F2.0 IS.

 

I'm an A7R owner and a E-M1 owner so it's all real world experience I'm basing this on. Believe me, the stabilisation makes a big difference on the E-M1 by comparison, to overall handling and feel, not just for video.

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Very curious about your E-M1 review.

 

I was in the USA in the end of the last year, and used the opportunity to get some new gear - here in Brazil none of these cameras are available, and when (and if) they arrive here will be around 3x the USA price. Love my GH2, but I need a new one, for both stills and video.

The options were the GX7 and the E-M1. The GX7 ticked a lot of right boxes - windowed focus assist + peaking was a thing that once I thought that would be ideal for my needs, and when I saw it implemented I was overwhelmed. The low profile of the GX7 was a must too - a lot of people don't take it seriously, and are much more relaxed than in front of a 5D.

 

But the E-M1 came, and the stills quality were amazing. The ergonomics looked well too (except the on/off switch). The 5-axis IBIS was a dream for video. But when the video specs came...a low bitrate codec and no 24p. Olympus lost a 100% sure sell.

 

I was even more sad after testing the E-M1 in B&H Photo in NY - the handling was amazing, the responsiveness, the superb EVF, the stabilizer...but because of the codec, 24p and some features, it was the GX7 that came back home with me. (Very good stills - a bit worse than E-M1 - but a VERY good video mode, better than GH2 with the lighter hacks, very good high ISO performance and much less banding).

Suggestion for the E-M1 testing, if I can say one: scenes with a lot of moving details, like tree leaves in a windy day; it was the kind of scene that breaks the E-M5 codec, and I saw some footage from the E-M1 before my trip and saw the same problem (albeit much less pronounced than the E-M5). This and no 24p were the deals breakers - but I want to see what you can extract from the E-M1 (you have much more knowledge than me).

 

If Oly updates the video mode with a firmware upgrade, I can bought one - but I don't have hopes about it, looks like that Olympus and Fuji really don't care about video.

 

Regards,

Marcio

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I'm an A7R owner and a E-M1 owner so it's all real world experience I'm basing this on. Believe me, the stabilisation makes a big difference on the E-M1 by comparison, to overall handling and feel, not just for video.

 

Noted. 

 

Edited to add:

Actually, that makes it a double bummer that the E-M1 doesn't do other than 30fps and 20 or so Mbit/s.

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Very curious about your E-M1 review.

 

I was in the USA in the end of the last year, and used the opportunity to get some new gear - here in Brazil none of these cameras are available, and when (and if) they arrive here will be around 3x the USA price. Love my GH2, but I need a new one, for both stills and video.

The options were the GX7 and the E-M1. The GX7 ticked a lot of right boxes - windowed focus assist + peaking was a thing that once I thought that would be ideal for my needs, and when I saw it implemented I was overwhelmed. The low profile of the GX7 was a must too - a lot of people don't take it seriously, and are much more relaxed than in front of a 5D.

 

But the E-M1 came, and the stills quality were amazing. The ergonomics looked well too (except the on/off switch). The 5-axis IBIS was a dream for video. But when the video specs came...a low bitrate codec and no 24p. Olympus lost a 100% sure sell.

 

I was even more sad after testing the E-M1 in B&H Photo in NY - the handling was amazing, the responsiveness, the superb EVF, the stabilizer...but because of the codec, 24p and some features, it was the GX7 that came back home with me. (Very good stills - a bit worse than E-M1 - but a VERY good video mode, better than GH2 with the lighter hacks, very good high ISO performance and much less banding).

Suggestion for the E-M1 testing, if I can say one: scenes with a lot of moving details, like tree leaves in a windy day; it was the kind of scene that breaks the E-M5 codec, and I saw some footage from the E-M1 before my trip and saw the same problem (albeit much less pronounced than the E-M5). This and no 24p were the deals breakers - but I want to see what you can extract from the E-M1 (you have much more knowledge than me).

 

If Oly updates the video mode with a firmware upgrade, I can bought one - but I don't have hopes about it, looks like that Olympus and Fuji really don't care about video.

 

Regards,

Marcio

 

I have seen a quote of a quote flying around - so please, take this for what you will - that Olympus has pledged to "pay more attention to video going forward." Whether than means a firmware update for the E-M1 or a new model next year with more video-focused features, I don't know. But if true - if - it's good news, 'cuz man, that stabilizer is AWESOME.

I will have my sister's E-M1 Thursday through Sunday this week and I will run it through the moving details test.

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Judged in isolation the A7R lacking IS isn't such a big deal but remember, this is a comparison and you are comparing a camera with the world's best stabilisation to one with absolutely none, unless you use a Sony 24-70mm F4 for £1100 or a crappy kit zoom, also with a slow aperture.

 

At least Canon and Nikon have a big range of IS lenses you can choose from when you need it, including fast primes like the new 35mm F2.0 IS.

 

I'm an A7R owner and a E-M1 owner so it's all real world experience I'm basing this on. Believe me, the stabilisation makes a big difference on the E-M1 by comparison, to overall handling and feel, not just for video.

 

Yes, but if as above you compare the total light path the A7/R is miles ahead of the Olympus, IS (for stills) isn't as useful as people make out, you still need usable shutter speeds for anything other than taking some pictures of plastic figurines on your desk and going 'oohhhh, aaahhhhh, look ma' I can handhold down to X shutter speed'... In real world shooting you still need a decent shutter speed most of the time, so the advantage of IS is lost. The disadvantage of a small sensor however remains. 

 

You say 'at least Canon and Nikon have a big range of IS lenses... Including fast primes like the new 35mm f2 IS - You say 'like'

 as if to suggest this is but one example, thing is that lens is the ONLY lens in the Canon range that has IS and is faster than f2.8. Hell even their f2.8 standard zoom (24-70) does't have IS. So you can't go 'like the 35mm f2 IS' because there is nothing else 'like' the 35mm f2 IS (which I use on my A7, with IS for what it's worth). In fact, SONY, until very very recently were the only company in the world to produce IS lenses faster than f2, that is until Panasonic's new 42.5mm f1.2. We can definitely expect OSS primes from them for the A7/R, but not Zeiss branded ones. 

 

I have used IS based cameras from the beginning and all my systems I have leaned towards IBIS, including Sony / Minolta, Pentax and Olympus. Is it nice to have? Sure. Is it necessary or make any real world difference? Not really. I can handhold my RX10 at 200mm @ 0.8 seconds shutter speed with good results, is that useful? No. 

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Judged in isolation the A7R lacking IS isn't such a big deal but remember, this is a comparison and you are comparing a camera with the world's best stabilisation to one with absolutely none, unless you use a Sony 24-70mm F4 for £1100 or a crappy kit zoom, also with a slow aperture.

 

At least Canon and Nikon have a big range of IS lenses you can choose from when you need it, including fast primes like the new 35mm F2.0 IS.

 

I'm an A7R owner and a E-M1 owner so it's all real world experience I'm basing this on. Believe me, the stabilisation makes a big difference on the E-M1 by comparison, to overall handling and feel, not just for video.

 

 

 

i have seen a lot of videos with em1 and internal IS and if there is any camera movement is UGLY ... see for youself.

 

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i have seen a lot of videos with em1 and internal IS and if there is any camera movement is UGLY ... see for youself.

 

'>

 

And this is with wide angle lens!

 

The only time i would use the internal IS , would be only for static themes and there i could use my monopod with my A7 and RX10.

 

Its not very professional looking at all the results in video of EM1's stabilization (elastic distortion) ... good only for small movements, nothing else.

Try it for example with oly 45mm 1.8 while you are walking... and you will see what i am saying!

 

also, as i remeber in video mode you CANT change everyrthing when you prees REC. 

Is that enough for you ?

 

Focus peaking is laggy in video mode also , you cant change  the colour nor the intensity of it , not usable for me.

 

EM1 is very good camera for photos but not for video... please!

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try it with wide and portrait lens, with camera motion , not static scenes.

I would like to see if this problem is random or not.

 

 

In Blunty video, there is some jello or elastic bend effects too, but is less pronounced...

Look here after  5:00 when he walks with the camera , its not clear but its there....

 

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Hard for me to tell for sure in the Blunty video.

I'll do a test with my 14 (28), 28 (56) and 135 (270) mm lenses (as that's all I packed with me on this trip to NY). I'll do locked down, panning, tilting, handheld (but static), handheld with vertical movement, handheld with horizontal movement, and then some walk around hand held. Figure that also might be a decent test of the codec.

If there's anything else you want to see let me know!

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Andrew- Envious of your Nikon Speedbooster. I'm loving the EM-1 and really hoping Metabones updates the Canon FD Speedbooster so it will fit. Anyone hear an ETA or if it's even going to happen? May be time to buy some Nikon glass.

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A7R owner with no expereince with the olympus, so this is biased...

 

I agree that the A7R video is somewhat lacking in resolution in this day and age.  however apart from that, the camera is faultless.  No gimmics like image stabilisation and speed boosters can compete with a true full frame sensor in my opinion.  Particularly a 36mpx sensor like this.  If I need a long exposure or a steady shot I'll lock it to the tripod.  I can put a 50mm f1.4 planar on my A7R, set shutter to 1/50th sec and set auto iso bracketing to 200-3200 and take pictures in low light that are better than anything I could have taken with a Contax RTS, fast film and the same lens.  I could also walk into a studio and photograph a Ferrari with the A7R and the images would be good enough to be compared to the same images taken on all but the best medium format systems.  M4/3 is to me like a toy when it comes to still photography.  As an all out photographers camera I personally cannot see how anyone can look at m4/3.

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