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.


train already late so I missed the connection in Utrecht and now the following train is also delayed. I hate train travel

Now there is a car on the line and the train isn’t going to get to Schiphol. Don’t know if I’ll catch my flight at all 😡

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…..

Australia photos now uploaded

Our first glimpse of the SOH, magnificent

Our first glimpse of the SOH, magnificent!

I have just uploaded 50 odd photos of our trip to Australia where we visited Fop and Freya.  We spent Christmas with Freya’s family at Elizabeth Beach before going back down to Freshwater for the New Year.

We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We will certainly be returning 🙂

You can see the photos by clicking here.


Notes on Australia

Australia-2905Everybody is your ‘mate’

Everybody wants to know how you are doing

Everyone says ‘Have a good one’ but a good what?

Everybody has a board, either a surfboard or a skateboard or both

They have appalling abbreviations for everything: ge’day, Cab Sav, What evs,

Free water fountains at the beach

Free sunscreen at the beach on hot days

Toilets on every beach clean and free

You can cycle on the highway

You get free tea and biscuits in the highway lay-byes

Ready to Roll

Atzerath to Venice route 2013So here we are, all revved up and ready to go!  Destination Venice, transport medium: Santos Double Travel tandem.  1,300km and an unknown number of meters of ascent waiting ahead.  I can’t wait!

We’ll be posting on Facebook as often as possible with our progress!

11 Steden tocht by tandem

One of the 11 towns

One of the 11 towns

Some may know the ’11 steden tocht’ as a skating race on the canals in Friesland when the weather permits.  I think the last time it was raced was 1998.  It is +-230 km on the canals and dykes.

It is also ‘available’ for cyclists, vintage cars, motor-bikes and almost anything else you can imagine.

We have been planning to ride this route for about 15 years and this last long week end we eventually got around to doing it!  On our tandem, of course.


The data:

292 km (we did a day tour on Terschelling which isn’t part of the 11 Steden tocht.

134m ascent (yes, Friesland is FLAT!)

16 hrs ride time.

It was a great 4 days, although we had to fight against storm-force winds on Friday and Saturday (up to 60km/h head-wind) as well as rain on Saturday.

Some of the photos are here

Niagara Falls

I was out in Canada for the first time a couple of weeks ago on a course at Tigercat.  As my flight was twice as expensive to come home on Friday instead of waiting until Sunday, I had the chance to visit Toronto and hired a car on Saturday to go and visit the Niagara Falls.

Of course it had to be an American muscle car so I got my hands on a Dodge Charger (300hp, rear-wheel drive and zero traction in the wet)

Now I know why you aren’t allowed to drive fast in the North America: their cars are so hopeless in the handling / roadholding department that it is a real risk to try anything other than driving in a straight line above 50mph!

Anyway, I enjoyed beating the traction control at every crossing because it was wet, in fact it rained all day!

The Niagara Falls are really worth visiting, even if you have to pay $18 for the car park and fight your way through the crowds!  I posted a few photos in the photo album.