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Olympus E-M1X vs full frame at 600mm


Brief summary

  • the Olympus kit is FAR more affordable ($US5500 - almost a QUARTER of the price), far lighter and smaller (2.3kg vs around 9kg), does not require a tripod, has far more features (such as Pro-Capture mode, hand held 50mp HiRes mode), in-camera focus limiter settings, much closer focus, better weathersealing, is far more travel-friendly and much less conspicuous, gives far better hand held video stabilisation and an incredible 7.5EV Dual IS, has built-in GPS and sensors, lots of unique AF functionality to ignore backgrounds and foregrounds and the new AI tracking, AF works to much lower light levels and has a lovely articulating, swivel rear screen, and in-camera USB charging.
  • the dSLRs have the advantage of the optical viewfinder and thus much better battery life and much deeper buffer for longer burst modes at full burst and the best pro support systems.
  • the Sony has the best viewfinder, subject AF tracking and AF frame coverage but is severely lacking in lens choice, burst rate with mechanical shutter, extremely slow buffer clearance especially in extra large jpeg mode, is slowest to power on and get the shots, has the slowest shutter lag except when AF is already locked via half-press shutter release and, like the Olympus, RAW files in burst mode are only 12bit not 14bit.
  • BUT the compromise with the smaller sensor of the Micro Four Thirds Olympus means:
    • poorer image quality in low light when high ISO levels are needed to stop the action
    • less tolerance of poor exposure or cropping
    • less ability to achieve shallow depth of field (DOF) although this could be addressed through post-processing

At the end of the day, image quality is not as important as getting the shot, and the Olympus has everything one needs to get to the shoot location without being burdened, and without the need for a tripod allows far more creative shooting.

If you don't get the shot, then talking about pixel peeping image quality comparisons becomes totally irrelevant.

The Olympus gives you confidence you can take it almost anywhere and it is sufficiently responsive and versatile to handle most situations - as long as you don't mind a little more image noise.

Comparison of specs and capabilities

feature E-M1X Sony a9 Canon 1DX Mark II Nikon D5 pro dSLR
lens 300mm f/4 OIS Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 + 1.4TC Canon EF 600mm f/4 Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4 lenses
total kit cost (see below) $US $5499 $18,700 $21,000 $21,000
total kit weight (see below) 2.3kg 8.5kg 9.0kg 9.7kg
sensor 20.4mp MFT 24mp FF 20.2mp FF 20.8mp FF
camera weight 997g 673g+add on grip and battery 1530g 1405g
vertical grip Yes Add on Yes Yes
lens weight 1270g 2895g+TC 3050g 3810g
lens length 227mm 359mm+TC 448mm 432mm
lens filter 77mm 40.5mm drop in 52mm drop-in 40.5mm drop in
weathersealing BEST in class IPX-1, temp to -10degC Good, temp down to 0degC only Good Good
mobility, fun, freedom, low fatigue EXCELLENT POOR POOR POOR
airplane cabin luggage YES No No No
camera body cost $US $2999 $4498+$160 grip/battery $5999 $6499
GPS adapter cost built-in via Bluetooth to smartphone built-in discontinued
Wireless adapter cost built-in built-in $599 $700
lens cost $US $2499 $11,998 but not available still, + $548 for 1.4TC $12,999 $12,299
tripod and tripod head cost (Gitzo with Wimberley gimbal) not needed $1500 $1500 $1500
tripod and tripod head weight not needed 4.5kg 4.5kg 4.5kg
full frame equivalent DOF wide open f/8 f/4 (f/5.6 for sharpness) f/4 f/4
high ISO noise at wide open aperture 2EV worse standard to 1EV worse standard standard
high ISO noise if need f/8 DOF standard standard to 1EV worse standard standard
Raw files in burst mode 12bit x 103 shots 12 bit 14bit 14bit x 200 shots or 12bit+jpg x 164 shots
closest focus 1.4m 2.7m 4.2m 4.4m
ability to ignore background in AF locking YES, via user defined in-camera focus limiter or 1.4-4m lens limiter only 2.7-7m limiter only 4.2-16m limiter No
ability to ignore foreground in AF locking YES, via user defined in-camera focus limiter or 4m to infinity lens limiter only via 7m-infinity limiter only via 16m-infinity only via 10m-infinity
ability to create a preset manual focus lock to return to quickly Yes No Yes No
ability to AF track a specific subject type motorsports, trains, planes, more coming No No, only iTR AF tracking No, only 3D tracking but it is the best in a dSLR
ability to track eyes Yes RealTime AF best in class Face if in central area Yes if in central AF region and using AutoAreaAF mode
closest Eye AF locking Yes No No No
AF coverage 80% of frame 96%? 20-25% of frame 20-25% of frame
PDAF points 121 all crosspt 693 61 but only 41 crosspt incl. 5 dual-cross 153 but only 45-99 crosspt depending upon lens
PDAF points for f/8 lenses 121 693 9-13 pts ?
PDAF points for f/11 lenses 121 693 No AF, f/8 is limit No AF?
PDAF points for lenses brighter than f/2.8 121 693 41 ?45-99
AF microadjustment needed to ensure accuracy of focus No No Yes Yes, automated
AF groups user customizable 4/7/8 25/72
AF sensitivity low light -6EV -3EV -3EV (center pt) -4EV (center pt)
ability to move AF point selection diagonally Yes No No No
Viewfinder 2.36mdot LED 5msec 60/120Hz 3.7mdot OLED blackout free 60/120Hz optical optical
Viewfinder magnification 0.83x 0.78x 0.76x 0.72x
Viewfinder MF aides IS-stabilised zoom; zebra; IS-stabilised zoom; zebra; AF-confirm AF-confirm
Viewfinder live histogram for exposures Yes Yes No No
Viewfinder chimping Yes Yes No No
Viewfinder silent shooting mode Yes Yes No No
Top LCD Info screen No Yes Yes Yes
Rear LCD type fully articulating, swivel, selfie tilt only fixed, limited touch functionality fixed
Rear LCD resolution 1.03mdot 1.44mdot 1.62mdot 2.36mdot
Ability to reverse LCD screen for protection Yes No No No
sensor based IS 7EV 5 axis 5EV 5 axis None None
optical+sensor image stabiliser effectiveness 7.5EV 5EV 3-4EV 3-4EV
Power on to 1st shot 0.8sec 1.2sec 0.8sec 0.4sec
Play to Record 1st shot 0.6sec 1.0sec 0.1sec 0.2sec
Shutter press to center S-AF to shot 90msec 220msec 85msec 132msec
Shutter press to shot in MF 60msec 100msec 72msec 41msec
Shutter press to shot with half-press AFLock 38msec 20msec 53msec 39msec
mechanical burst with C-AF 10fps ? RAW then 8fps unlimited 5fps 128 RAW / 241 comp. RAW 14fps 78RAW on CF and >500 on CFast 12fps 200RAW
mechanical burst with S-AF lock 15fps 97 RAW then 8fps unlimited 5fps 16fps with mirror locked up 14fps with mirror locked up
electronic burst with C-AF 18fps 20fps 241RAW No No
electronic burst with S-AF lock 60fps Live View: 16fps Live View mode: 30fps 5mp jpgs only and can't see until ends
buffer clearance time after RAW burst 7 secs (6secs for large Super Fine jpegs) 1) 38 secs (254secs for large extra fine jpegs!) 2) 2secs if CFast 15secs if 800xCF ?2 secs on XQD cards
number of shots captured BEFORE shutter release up to 38 0 0 0
memory card slots dual UHS-II SD dual SD but only one UHS-II CF+CFast dual CF or dual XQD
battery duration (CIPA) 870 shots 480 shots (double if use grip and extra battery) 1210 shots 3780
in camera charging and power via external USB power pack (essential in freezing conditions) Yes Yes No No
USB port USB-C up to 100W charging USB USB 3.0 USB 3.0
4K video 30p 30p full pixel 1.34x crop DCI 60p 4:2:2 8bit MJPEG, no 4K out 30p
1080HD video 120p 120p 120p 4:2:0 8bit 60p
video aides OMDLog, 1/24th and 1/48th sec shutter speeds, the best movie IS in class which can be adjusted to style, excellent movie tracking AF, easy AF selection Real time AF Dual Pixel AF Poor AF
tripod HiRes mode 80mp RAW No No No
handheld HiRes mode 50mp RAW No No No
ND simulation mode Yes No No No
Automatic focus stacking mode Yes No No No
Flicker detection Yes Yes Yes ?
Longest shutter 60sec 30sec 30sec 30sec
Night modes other than Bulb Timed BULB, Live Composite Night Red view No No
Sensor recording GPS,temp,compass,altitude, barometer GPS via Bluetooth to smartphone GPS, e-compass opt. discontinued GPS GP-1A adapter
Wireless tethering Yes opt. WFT-E8A adapter opt. WT-5A or WT-6A adapter
Other super telephoto lens options
800mm Oly 300mm f/4 with 1.4TC; Pan 200mm f/2.8 +2xTC 400mm f/2.8 +2xTC Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 $11,999; 400mm f/2.8 +2xTC; 600mm f/4+1.4xTC; 400mm f/2.8 +2xTC; 600mm f/4+1.4xTC;
300-800mm with built-in TC Oly 150-400mm f/4.5 (2020) none none none
200-800mm Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 1kg $1400 none none none
other 600mm options Oly ZD 300mm f/2.8; budget 75-300mm lenses none Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 + 2xTC, 300mm f/4 +2xTC Nikon 300mm f/2.8 + 2xTC, 300mm f/4 +2xTC
500mm prime none none Canon EF 500mm f/4 3.9kg Nikon 500mm f/4 $10,299 3kg
400mm prime Panasonic Leica 200mm f/2.8 $2999 1.2kg Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 as above Canon EF 400mm f/2.8, 400mm f/4 DO, 400mm f/5.6 Nikon 400mm f/2.8 $11,999 3.8kg
200-500mm without external TC Oly ZD 95-250mm f/2.8 $5999, 3.3kg none Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 internalTC $11,999 Nikon 180-400mm f/4 internal TC $12,399 3.5kg; 200-500mm f/5.6 2.3kg
100-400mm Panasonic Leica 50-200mm f/2.8-4, Oly 40-150mm f/2.8 +1.4xTC $1,100 Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 $2498 Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6
300mm prime with IS Oly ZD 150mm f/2 Sony Alpha 300mm f/2.8 $7498 2.3kg Canon EF 300mm f/2.8, 300mm f/4 Nikon 300mm f/2.8 $5,500 2.9kg, 300mm f/4 PE $1999
80-300mm Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 $1100 none Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6
photo/em1xvsff_600mm.txt · Last modified: 2019/01/30 11:18 by gary1