Olympus OM-D E-M1 vs Sony NEX7



Why am I, a hobby photographer, writing this post?  I used to use a Sony NEX7 as the camera which was always with me when I travelled or when I planned to take better quality photos than my iPhone allowed.

The biggest advantage of a mirrorless system camera is fairly obvious to anyone who looks at one next to a D-SLR & the NEX7 is a good camera which has served me well since I bought it in 2012. Unfortunately the offering of lenses was never very good if you didn’t want to use the Alpha series lenses with an adapter.  The adapter is fine and adds phase differentiation focus to the contrast detection focusing, but rather defeats the object of a small camera if you have to use full-size lenses and an adapter.  Worse is that Sony now use sensor shift stabilisation on the newer models so there is no development in the lenses with inbuilt stabilisation, the ones I need for my NEX7.


So it was time to reconsider my camera and buy a new one.  I looked closely at the new Sony Alpha 7 range, but using a 35mm sensor would mean coming back to the large and heavy lenses, again losing one of the important features in my list of needs: size and weight.

What tipped the balance?

Our son Christopher is a professional photographer and Olympus Visionary for Olympus Australia, specialising in surf, travel and landscape photography and has been using an Olympus OM-D E-M1 for quite some time, so I have had the chance to try his on several occasions.

Although the body is slightly heavier and bigger than my NEX7, the equivalent lenses are smaller as the Olympus is a micro four thirds compared to the Sony APS-C of the NEX7. (micro 4/3 means you double the focal length of a lens to give the 35mm equivalent, APS-C is 1.5x the focal length.)

I bought the OM-D E-M1 black body and M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 Pro lens

What I particularly like:

  • Speed and accuracy of the autofocus
  • Weather proof
  • Customisability
  • Lens offering
  • Stabilisation
  • Controls layout

The auto focus is sensational compared to my NEX7 which is also not weatherproof either.  The menu in the NEX7 is unfathomable and the customisation of the functions much more limited.

The E-M1 menu is extensive and I was glad to have Chris here to help me setup the camera, I think I would have spent several hours finding and tuning the settings without him!

The ‘Pro’ range of lenses are awesome, especially the new 300mm f4.0 (read 600mm for a full size sensor!) which is incredibly sharp and, further to the 5-axis sensor stabilisation, has in-lens stabilisation working in harmony with the sensor stabilisation which makes it easy to use hand-held.  It is also not too heavy either, especially when compared to a full-frame equivalent.

The stabilisation is fantastic, allowing handheld shutter speeds using the 12-40mm lens of 1/25th without problems, something I could never do with my NEX7.

The 2 main dials are front and back as opposed to being next to each other on the NEX7.  I often found myself turning both on the Sony.  The resistance on the E-M1 dials is also greater, avoiding changing settings by mistake..


I could go on for several more pages of comparison, but it seems pointless, there are much higher qualified critics capable of doing a better job of that than I would.  What matters to me is that the E-M1 seems to be a better camera for my needs and I am getting to grips with it quite nicely.  It is also great to have Chris here to give my tips and lend me his lenses from time to time.  I am looking forward to trying some of the time lapse modes soon too.

Lytro light field photography


I’ve been playing with Lytro light field photography. Here is a sample photo, the left side fork of my Canyon XC9.0.  Click anywhere to refocus. It should be embedded, but that doesn’t seem to work! The iOS9 app doesn’t work nor does the desktop app in El Capitan.  Seems that Lytro are a bit behind with the development of the software around their futuristic camera.  Pity, because the pictures are quite fun. Link to the photo here

Tandem broke down again!

En route on the Duvel Trippel Hop 90 km disaster struck at km 62.  We broke 3 spokes on the rear wheel. Something which should never happen on a Rohloff hub as the spokes are symmetric.  Anyway we had to abandon the ride and are now waiting for Ronny to get the car and pick us up 😡 

Broken Rohloff drive sprocket


Broken Rohloff 17t drive sprocket

Veda and I were nearly home when our Santos Double Travel broke down!  Here is the photo of the drive sprocket, which also shows 2 more fissures (12 & 5 o’clock)  considering that the chain is always pulling straight so there is no lateral force applied to the sprocket, I wonder if anyone else has experienced this problem.  I would really like to understand how this can happen.

Mountain bike prep

Liteville 301 Mk8Spent the afternoon fitting the second Nokon gear change cable to my Liteville 301, changing the tyres (from front to back and a new Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2,25” on the front)

Serviced my Crank Bros Egg-beater (mine are red) pedals too.

Now my Liteville is nearly ready for the winter season, just need to change the small and middle chain-rings and chain to be complete.

I also serviced the free-wheel hub on the Cube which Veda is riding as is was slipping once in a while yesterday.

Didn’t get around to finishing off Ria’s Scott Genius which will get a complete new drive line (Chain-rings, cassette, chain and gear change cable)

New rear gear cable

Nokon gear cableSpent an hour changing the damaged rear gear cable on my beloved Liteville 301 for Nokon aluminium segment ones.  It runs through the frame to get to the rear and the old one was really tight to remove, probably because it was blocked with dirt where it goes from the bottom bracket into the right chain stay.

Advantages of these aluminium segment cables is their flexibility and strength, they are much better for tight bends than the multi-strand wire ones usually used.  The gear change feels really good, but they always do when new so tie will tell 🙂

We’ll see how long this one lasts.  The original ones have done 5,673km; 109,843m and 422hrs of ride time.  It was still running quite well, but I damaged the old one and it was bothering me a bit.

Helinox Eureka chair one vs. Thermarest Compack chair

IMG_3101 IMG_3103I bought the Helinox chair one after our trip to Venice in 2013 because a chair was probably the thing I missed most.  I then bought the Thermarest Compack chair because Ria also needs one 🙂

The Helinox plus points:

  • super quality
  • light (<1,00 kg)
  • unbelievably comfortable
  • seat height is good

The Helinox minus points

  • bulky compared to the Thermarest


The Thermarest plus points

  • super compact
  • very light (<200g)
  • surprisingly comfortable

The Thermarest minus points

  • you sit on the floor


We haven’t actually used either of them yet so I can’t give a winner today.  The both have advantages and disadvantages, weight is always a concern but I want a comfortable chair and the Helinox is more comfortable.

We’ll see which is a winner after our trip from Prague to Porec…..

Brooks saddle

Brooks B17 NaturalJust invested in a beautiful, handmade English piece of craftsmanship: a hand made Brooks saddle.

This beauty is guaranteed for 10 years or 100,000km.  I hope I make the 100,000km first 🙂

I’ve just ridden 30km without any issues, but we will get the truth once the saddle is broken in.  I’ve treated it to 2 good helpings of Brooks own saddle cream and expect to be able to give a fair evaluation when we have ridden to Antwerp and back.

How to pack a handlebar

This arrived at the office today, it’s a motorbike handle bar for a motocross machine.

Obviously, if you don’t have a box that fits you just cut the ends and send it like that!

Luckily such pieces are robust and made to take a few knocks in their lifetime 🙂