It’s been just about 2 months since my last post comparing these two cameras. When I wrote the last post, I hadn’t decided which camera to keep (since they greatly overlap in terms of usage scenarios) but I’ve recently decided to keep the E-M1, and sell the A6000.
It really came down to the lens selection. But not in the way I expected.
You’ll see that in my previous post, I acknowledged that the E-mount has a smaller lens selection compared to micro 4/3. That’s obvious to anyone who follows this stuff. I claimed that as long as you have your standard focal lengths covered, the extra variety of lenses available to you didn’t matter much.
So why are the lenses my prime decision factor?
I had a chance to visit my dad, who now owns a Sony A7 with both the 35mm f/2.8 and the 55mm f/1.8. After playing with these lenses (both on the A7 and the A6K) it was clear to me that Sony is going to build the high end lenses only for their FF system. It makes sense. Price sensitive customers who come in and buy the $600 bodies are not going to be jumping all over $1000 lenses. And you can tell by looking at Sony’s APSC E-mount lens lineup. Most all of them (other than the CZ 16-70 and the CZ 24mm) are in the $200-500 range.
Don’t get me wrong. Those E-mount lenses aren’t bad lenses. Most of them are decent, especially for their price points. But reading all the reviews, you can tell that the only standout lens is the CZ 24mm (which is $900). I think this was paired with the NEX-7 which was the “high end” of the NEX system at the time. But the A6K doesn’t seem like the NEX-7 successor. That role has been taken on more by the A7 series.
Compare this with micro 4/3, where premium lenses are plentiful. Four constant-wide-aperture zooms (from both Oly and Pana). Lots of top-of-the-line primes. Not that I’m going to go out and binge on a bunch of $800 lenses, but it’s good to know that as I get more into the system, I do have the choice of investing more in my favorite focal lengths.
The conclusion seemed pretty clear. By buying into the mid-range a6000 body, I was also buying into the solidly mid-range lens lineup as well.
So while the E-mount lens lineup does have all the basic focal length covered, it hasn’t done it at the various price/quality points you’ll see in a more mature system. In the m43 system, you can find multiple price points for virtually any focal length, which makes it possible to go budget for lenses you might rarely use, but splurge on the 50mm prime that you use all the time.
So I’m going to stick with m43 for the time being. While I really wish the E-M1 had the CAF performance of the a6000, I’m sure I’ll manage.
Some related observations
Shopping for lenses for the A6000 really reminded me of when I owned the Nikon D70, one of their earlier APS-C dslr bodies. Nikon was (and still is) in the same position, where they sell both FF and APS-C systems. As a APS-C user, I waited and waited for them to sell a good APS-C 35mm equivalent prime, but to this day they still haven’t made one. The only choice is to get the FF 24mm/1.4 lens which is $2200 (!), or a slower f/2.8 lens. If you look at their APS-C lens line-up, it’s almost all zooms and super-zooms.
It seems that whenever companies end up supporting FF and APS-C systems, they come to the same realization that they should only make the real high-end stuff in their FF format.
It’s really only the manufacturers that only have smaller format bodies that are really willing to invest in producing the best lenses for smaller formats. Currently they are Panasonic + Olympus for m43, and Fuji for the X-mount*
* We’ll have to see how the Leica T system turns out. I’m optimistic since they’re starting with such high price points to begin with.