March 19, 2012

Sony NEX-7 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5


I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Nex-7 vs the OM-D E-M5 and I figured I put together a little comparison article for those of you on the fence 😉

Both of these cameras have very appetizing specs, but they are different, so it can make for a tuff choice depending on your photography needs. Need weather sealing? Need the best image quality possible? Need more native lenses??

Sony NEX-7

In summary the Sony Nex-7 has a better viewfinder, a higher res and physically larger sensor which will make for better image and video quality overall.  decent built in flash, and focus peaking which is awesome for manually focusing. This is very important if you plan on using adapters and other lenses like I do!! Focus Peaking takes the guess work out of manual focusing by showing you the high contrast sharp areas with a blinking line. The screen on the back of the Nex-7 is also higher res which is better for closely examining photos on camera. Currently 7 Native lenses available. Don’t forget to check out my Hands on Review of the Sony Nex-7 >>

Olympus OM-D E-M5

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 on the other hand has a much more rugged retro style build quality which makes it “splash proof”, and/or weather sealed. This is a really great feature and critical to some photographers!! The Olympus also features the Wolds first 5-axis IBIS (in body image stabilization), and much faster and accurate Autofocus system per the specs. For HDR shooters the Olympus has awesome AEB (auto exposure bracketing) settings that usually only come in the top dollar pro cameras that I’ve seen. Olympus also has a few more lenses available (9 total) which is a big plus over the limited E-Mount lenses available. The E-M5 is also a bit cheaper than the Nex-7 at OM-D E-M5 = $999 VS Sony Nex-7 = $1199 Full Preview of the OM-D E-M5 >>


Sony Nex-7 – Body Only

Olympus OM-D E-M5 - Body Only, Silver

Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Body Only, Silver


Full Specs:

Camera Model

Olympus OM-D E-M5

OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only, Silver)

Sony NEX-7Sony Nex-7 - Body Only


Body Only – $999
Kit – $1.299
Body Only – $1.199
Kit – $1.349


Body Only – $999
Kit – $1.299
Body Only – $1.199
Kit – $1.349
Body type
SLR-style mirrorless
Rangefinder-style mirrorless
Body material
Magnesium alloy
Max resolution
4608 x 3456
6000 x 4000
Image ratio
3:2, 16:9
Effective Resolution
16.1 MP
24.3 MP
Sensor size
Four Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm)
APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
Sensor type
Lens mount
Micro Four Thirds
Sony E Mount
Focal length multiplier
Image Processor
TruePic VI
Color space
sRGB, Adobe RGB
sRGB, Adobe RGB
ISO Range
Auto (200 – 25600), 200, 
400, 800, 1600, 3200,
 6400, 12800, 25600
Auto, 100, 200, 400, 
800, 1600, 3200,
 6400, 12800, 16000
White balance presets
Custom white balance
Image stabilization
Sensor-shift – 5-axis IS
Uncompressed format
Contrast Detect (sensor)
Selective single-point
Face Detection
Live View
Contrast Detect (sensor)
Selective single-point
Live View
Autofocus assist lamp
Manual focus
Yes (Live view image magnification)
Yes, Focus Peaking, Magnification
Articulated LCD
Screen size
Screen dots
Touch screen
Screen type
Touch control in electrostatic capacitance type OLED monitor
Live view
Viewfinder type
Electronic – 1.44M dots
Electronic OLED – 2.4M dots
Viewfinder coverage
Viewfinder magnification
Minimum shutter speed
Maximum shutter speed
Aperture priority
Shutter priority
Manual exposure mode
Subject / scene modes
Built-in flash
Yes (Pop-up)
Flash range
6 m
External flash
Yes (via Hot-shoe (FL-50/FL-50R, FL-36/FL-36R, FL-30, FL-20, FL-14, FL-300R, FL-600R))
Yes (Hot-shoe)
Flash modes
Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Fill-in, Slow Sync (2), Manual (3 levels)
Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Rear Curtain, Fill-in, Wireless
Flash X sync speed
1/250 sec
 1/200 sec
Drive modes
Single, Continuous Self-Timer
Single, Continuous Self-Timer
Continuous drive
Yes (9 fps)
Yes (10 fps)
Yes (2 or 12 sec)
Yes (2 or 10 sec, 10sec (3 or 5 images))
Metering modes
Multi, Center-weighted, Spot
Multi, Center-weighted, Spot
Exposure compensation
±3 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)
±5 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing
(2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
(at 1/3 EV steps)
WB Bracketing
Yes (3 frames in 2, 4, 6 steps selectable in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis)
AVCHD,H.264, Motion JPEG
1920 x 1080 (60 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
1920 x 1080 (60, 24 fps), 1440 x 1080 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
Storage types
SD/SDHC/SDXC/Memory Stick Pro Duo/ Pro-HG Duo
USB 2.0
USB 2.0
Yes (Mini HDMI type-D)
Yes (Mini Type C)
Remote control
Yes (Optional (RM-UC1))
Yes (InfraRed (optional))
Environmentally sealed
Battery Pack
Battery Pack
Battery description
Lithium-Ion BLN-1 rechargeable battery & charger
Lithium-Ion NP-FW50 rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)
430, more like 350
Weight (inc. batteries)
425 g (0.94 lb / 14.99 oz)
400 g (0.88 lb / 14.11 oz)
122 x 89 x 43 mm (4.8 x 3.5 x 1.69″)
120 x 67 x 43 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 1.69″)
Timelapse recording
Native Factory Lenses
11 lenses
9 lenses

Promo Movie:

Incredible Promo Movie for the Olympus. It makes me want one for sure!!



The Olympus OM-D E-M5 in my opinion seems like it would be better for those looking for weather sealing, in camera image stabilization, and desires a lot of native lens choices. The HDR bracketing features are also very attractive I must admit!! Personally though, I would still go with the Nex-7 for the huge image sensor size advantage which will ultimately result in better photo and video quality. The focus peaking feature on the Nex-7 is also absolutely incredible and the built in flash for snap shots seals the deal for me :)

Mind you, the Olympus has not even been scored yet for Sensor quality, so I’m speaking from the hip here!!

Poll: Which Camera would you rather have??

Which would you rather have??

  • The Olympus OM-D E-M5 (53%, 156 Votes)
  • The Sony Nex-7 (47%, 138 Votes)

Total Voters: 293

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  1. Peter

    I don’t think you did a REAL Comparison. I reads like you just assumed from your own view on how the E-M5 might compare in IQ by comparing specks, but not a REAL Image caparison, and your personal experience with Nex7. I suggest you do a RAW image compare at all ISO and with a Video compare also… and then post your findings….You will have change your mind on APS-C vs M4/3 with THIS camera…That APS-C vs M4/3 IQ is no longer an issue when using a Panasonic G3,/GX-1 Olympus E-P3, E-M5 compared to any med level and a few high end DSLRs. One Report says the Canon 7D is just a ‘TAD” better… A TAD!!!. and with the Nikon D3s, about equal. “About Equal”!!!

    • Hey Peter,
      Thanks for the comments!! Did you read my last sentence?


    • That APS-C vs M4/3 IQ is no longer an issue when using a Panasonic G3,/GX-1 Olympus E-P3, E-M5 compared to any med level and a few high end DSLRs. One Report says the Canon 7D is just a ‘TAD” better… A TAD!!!. and with the Nikon D3s, about equal. “About Equal”!!!

      Peter, Do you have a link for this info by any chance?? I would love to read up it some more!!


  2. Joseph

    I was very interested in the NEX-7, but the issue I had with it was the size. The body is great, but those majority of lenses defeat the purpose of the camera. I opted for a Panasonic GF3 kit for $330 and got the 20mm pancake f/1.7 that can fit in my pocket. I know the GF3 isn’t anything spectacular, but it was a cheap way to get into the 4/3 system and I was going to wait for a higher end 4/3 camera to come out. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is exactly what I was waiting for as I honestly like it a lot more than the Panasonic GFX offering.

    Comparing the NEX-7 to the OM-D I think is valuable, but the one area the NEX-7 can’t compete imho is size + quality as the only Sony pancake I know of is the 16mm f/2.8. If not for this I would have selected the NEX line, but I opted for the 20mm f/1.7…

    • Hey Joeseph,

      Thanks so much for your comments!! I’m watching the votes go up and over the Nex-7 and I’m very surprised to be honest. Not saying it’s not an awesome camera, but clearly the average voter wants better build quality and more lens choices not to mention 5-axis IS.

      It makes sense, but I thought the sensor size would be more critical you guys. Clearly I was wrong in my assumption based on the voting!!

      I also appreciate you explaining your rational which makes perfect sense. For the money you have an awesome super fast set-up and it’s the size you want until your “preferred camera body” arrives :)

      Thanks again Joe!!


      • I certainly prefer the build of the OM-D over the Nex-7, as well as its valuable offering of high-iso, 5-axis stabilization and the extent of lens offerings in comparison. Specifically in regards to size. The OM-D line and the m4/3 system is built for the small size. I think Nex-7 attempts to walk in the shoes of a small camera, but the big lenses make it a mute comparison on that front.

        The thing about the sensor-size debate is, in my opinion, simmering down. M4/3, Crop Sensors, FF… with the recent extent of tech advancement, its amazing what all of these sensors can offer (sometimes equally). Especially in regards to m4/3. In the past, it was easy to dismiss the tiny sensor due to image quality… but the quality has attained that pro-look that it was lacking in before, and people are beginning to care more about the additional offerings of the cameras that help make their jobs/hobbys easier.

        I believe the days of, “my camera is better, because the sensor is bigger,” are fading.

        Thats just one man’s take on it at least.

      • Re Casper,

        Thankls for the comments and take on the cameras/ sensor debate. All I can say is that by past evidence the image sensor size does make a large difference in image quality when it comes to noise, dynamic range, color bit depth, depth of field, etc.. So I think once we get an actual Sensor Score from Score), we can then start to make actual judgements with merit. Until then, as I said in the last sentence, were just shooting at the hip 😉 Your point however, is very well taken and the bottom line is all the sensors do a really good job. One still has to be the best though!

        Of Course real world testing in the end is all that matters to me so, either way I’m going to get my hands on that Olympus OM-D as fast as possible to review it!! The image stabilization alone is worth checking out :)


  3. Mandu

    I think RE Casper has hit the nail on the head. The sensor size and ISO wars are coming to an end. Just like the Mhz wars ended. Remember when everyone bragged about their 4Ghz processor and Gigaflops and junk like that. Nobody cares anymore. Most computers can do everything a person needs and people buy them based on features, price, size, style, etc.

    It seems with the latest batch of m4/3 sensors (GH2,G3,GX1,EM5) the performance gap with APS-C has narrowed to the point where if you get bad photos, it’s the photographer who sucks, not the camera. In fact, based on DPreview’s latest studio tests of the EM5, the NEX7 lags behind in high ISO RAW performance. I don’t think the EM5 will surpass it in color depth or dynamic range as tested by DXO, but it won’t matter in real world photos for most.

    But with it’s image stabilization, weather resistance, the lens lineup including the prime selection, the size of lenses, the compactness of the package when paired with small lenses, you actually get more from the EM5.

    The fact that on a SonyAlpha blog a majority still votes for the EM5 tells us that the ISO wars may be over.

    Personally I think the NEX7 is a really nice machine, with alot of great features. But just like the computers with their super fast Pentium 4s lost a major bullet point in the brochure, the same is happening in photography. Manufactures are going to have to do more than just put “bigger” sensors in cameras to get mass appeal. (See Samsung)

    • Hey Mandu,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and explain your position on the subject. You raise some very good points and you may just be right!!


    • Jasper

      No, the sensor size and ISO wars are not coming to an end. In my eyes both camera’s perform rather poor at ISO’s higher then 400. When I compare the E-M5 to the Panasonic G3, I just don’t see a big leap in image quality at higher ISO’s. Maybe there’s a third stop in it, but not more. I even think the G3 is a better buy then the E-M5, because image quality is almost identical, you get a build in flash, fast AF, tilting screen and you pay a lot less. If you don’t need weather sealing and other stuff, I wouldn’t bother with the E-M5. It’s a bit of a disappointment really, after all the noise and ‘oh my god’ marketing. Way too expensive for what you get. Better save your money and wait for the next generation micro 4/3 sensor. I hope it will be 16mp but with less noise at higher ISO’s. Most people don’t need anymore megapixels then this. You can make great prints from the G3 files.

  4. Adam

    Jasper, I’m not sure which images you are looking at. All of the ones posted by Robin Wong and DP review taken by the EM-5 are simply stunning. The comparison shots in DPR are, IMO, at least as good as the NEX-7 (or the D7000 or most other DSLRs) in overall IQ, especially at high ISO. The Oly senson more than holds it’s water against a bigger Sony sensor, and in a smaller package. Throw in the IBIS, which is simply amazing, and the weatherproofing, and it’s not even close for me. I love the NEX-7, but to say it has the same IQ as the G3 is silly, Looking at the comparison images, the JPEG and RAW ISO 12800 images on the Oly are as good or better than the NEX-7 and better than the G3 at 6400!

    Look at them yourself and tell me otherwise.

  5. ALVIN

    Just go out and shoot, this whole thing is pointless.

  6. ALVIN

    if i show you a photos, taken by a good photographer using em-5, d7000, 7d, nex-7, nex-5, e-p2, 60d, d90… or whatever decent camera.. can you tell what camera was used?

  7. Clinton Clark

    Really late but your articles our great thanks , as a NEX owner, and the use of multilple of lenses, Yes it adds size but allows me to take photos, high quality at events that don’t allow DSL,s Ah they never figure it out.

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