Canon 7D mark II vs. Olympus E-M1 for bird photography – A comparison by Loren Runyon

Mirrorless Planet is a new blog run by Loren Runyon and his wife Catherine, both of who have a passion for travel and wildlife photography. They are developing a series of in-depth articles about using Micro Four Thirds gear for bird photography. In their fourth post, Loren shares his thoughts about the two systems he is currently using for birds in flight: the Canon 7D mark II and the Olympus OM-D E-M1.

Loren introduces his personal history of using M4/3, explaining that the E-M1 was at first very disappointing with a 5-10% keeper rate but everything changed after firmware 3.0 was released in early 2015. He then explains why he bought the Canon 7D II as a complement to rather than a replacement for the E-M1. He also highlights that gear is only part of the equation, the photographer being the other:

When I use the E-M1 for birding, I am trying various things to to chase down the 7D Mk II’s amazing tracking ability.  When I use the Canon, I am trying to get to a point where shooting is as effortless as it is with my Olympus.  My skill development and the new techniques I learn end up being tried out and employed on both cameras, so as I have grown with one, I grew with the other as well.

The authors goes then in-depth by comparing the two cameras. The chapters are as follows:

  • The Portability to Performance Ratio
  • Handling and Usability
  • The Viewfinder
  • Autofocus
  • Image Quality
  • Memory and Buffer Speed
  • Battery Life

While you can guess that the 7D II wins for autofocus speed and accuracy, the gap is much smaller than you might think for most of the other topics. Loren concludes in the following manner:

If the E-M1 Mk II can improve its C-AF+T even more, this would probably be enough to make it a genuine competitor for wildlife photography, and due to the aforementioned advantages, it doesn’t have to have as good an AF as the 7D MK II (nor the new Nikon D500) to have already become part of the conversation.  Battery life and dual card slot are a few other advantages of a DSLR, but for many they will not prove to be major issues.

You can check out Loren’s full comparison by clicking here or on the image below.

Canon 7d ii vs olympus omd em1