Mirrorless system weights - a tabulation and observations

Discussion in 'Other Brands' started by CM_SK, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. CM_SK

    CM_SK Regular

    Apr 23, 2013
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    Some days, my much-loved Pentax K-5 seems a bit weighty on the shoulders, in the hands, or in a backpack – and I don’t think it is entirely due to hanging around in this camera weight-watchers forum. So as I look at the various new systems, weight more than bulk is more a key for me if I were to invest in a new system (though they usually correlate), keeping in mind the ever-present image quality, handling, and other factors. I noticed as well that the new Olympus OMD E-M1 is getting close to small DSLR in size, that the new Sony Alpha A7 are small but their FF lenses may not be, all of which somewhat confuses any attempt to over-simplify system weight.

    So, and only partly due to a sleepless night, I assembled some simple weight comparisons between 4 compact and leading cameras, to see where the final system weights shake out for each system. I chose the higher quality mirrorless bodies, with viewfinders only, hence Fuji XE-2, new Oly E-M1, and of course the A7. The Pentax K-3 is one of the smaller high quality DSLRs, and I have a K-5 so was curious as to how it compared. To simplify the lens comparisons, I have chosen 5 “typical” zoom ranges and 5 “typical” primes, for each system, and as best as I could tried to select the best or most usual lens for each category. Of course there is no way they will all correlate exactly as the lens makers choose different exact focal lengths or apertures, but this is at least a way to compare apples with near-apples, across different systems. Here is a summary table:


    A few observations on the overall results of this tabulation:

    1. My intuition told me to expect that the m43 system would have an easy first place for total weight for almost all the lens categories – not so. The Fuji X system has 5 “lightest” wins vs 4 for the E-M1 system, though the E-M1 is a close second for most of the rest that it did not win. The A7 is lightest only in one lens type, with its 35mm prime. Given the APS-C sensor size, this is impressive for the Fuji system, which I would have to conclude is the most weight-vs-sensor size efficient.

    2. If I substitute the 100g heavier X-Pro1 for the XE-2, Fuji loses three of its lightness wins over to the E-M1. Separately, if I used the lighter E-M5 (pretending the E-M1 was not released yet), it would take 8 of 10 “lightest system” wins. The heft of the new E-M1 is to some extent negating the advantages offered by the very light m43 lenses.

    3. The average system weights (ie. average of all body + lens combinations) I show are of course not strictly comparable since only the Pentax and m43 systems have a full complement of the 10 categories, but for these two my simplified lens systems show an average system weight a full half kilo lighter for the m43. (That is starting to sound good…) If we “even up” the Fuji/Olympus comparison by just using the lens categories that both Fuji and m43 currently make available, it is very close – Fuji averaging 670g and Olympus 712g per system. Again these two swap places if we used the heavier X-Pro1 body, but still fairly close.

    4. The still-filling-in Sony Alpha FE lens/body system seems destined to occupy a weight position somewhere in between the Fuji and m43 lightweights, and the lightest DSLRs, still impressive of course if you want FF in a manageable package.

    Hope some of you enjoy this slightly nerdy compilation… and I’m sure there will be many takes on this topic. Cheers!
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  2. wt21

    wt21 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    I love stuff like this, but I would submit that the EM5 and the XE1 are really the comparable two. The EM1 has a real grip, which both of the other two lack. If you put the accessory grip on the XE2, then check weights, that might be closer. You could also compare the XPro1 and the EM1, but I think the XPro 1 is arguable a stand-alone/unique camera, and is not the right comparison to the EM1. In some ways. the EM1 and XP1 are currently unique between formats (within the m43 format, the EM1 is a fair comparison to the GH3).

    The a7 continues to surprise in terms of size and weight. One thing, though -- the lenses for the a7 are not as fast aperture as many of the other system lenses. If they were, that system would be heavier still.

    If weight is truly your issue, then why not the EM5? Or the APS-C NEX system?
  3. CM_SK

    CM_SK Regular

    Apr 23, 2013
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    @wt21: Just to be clear, I mainly did this for fun; the Pentax is not really killing me most days… and yes at some point one of these systems will tempt me but they are evolving very rapidly. But - just on the weight alone, and for the APS-C sensor size - the Fuji system seems impressive.
  4. Thanks for all that, Colin. I still have my K5, but I also have osteoarthritis which is worst in my hands and shoulders... and the weight gets me. Thats why I'm actually in the process of switching full time to Nikon 1... though the bodies are surprisingly heavy, the lenses are real lightweights.
  5. CM_SK

    CM_SK Regular

    Apr 23, 2013
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    Sue: I often say to myself "yes but the Pentax system has all these lovely light primes…" which it does, but these overall weights I tabulated have deflated my rationalization about how light the Pentax system really is…. others are truly significantly lighter.
  6. Yup, I get that and have used the same rationalisation for a long time. Its been at least 18 months since I decided to sell. I keep putting it on gumtree, and then changing my mind within hours. Insane.
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    The EM1 is a tank. It's not a BIG tank (although the grip adds to the "box" volume, but it's the heaviest and most solid feeling m43 body I've handled. I haven't ever held a GH3, but other than that I'm pretty sure the EM1 is the heaviest. If you take out an EM1 with the 12-40 and the 100-300 and maybe the 7-14, you don't have a light kit on your hands. If you take the GM1 or EPM2 with a couple of small primes, you're carrying almost no weight... So I wouldn't say this is indicative of m43 generally, but does represent one end of the size/weight end of it. I'm not surprised that the XE1 came in relatively small and light, but I am surprised that some of those Fuji lenses aren't heavier than you show. Some of them are quite large by volume...

  8. BigTam

    BigTam Regular

    Jun 23, 2011
    Dortmund, Germany
    Interesting comparison. I once made a similar table, but only comparing the Fuji X and m43, and I was comparing prices, not weights!

    Fortunately, I don't yet need to reduce the weight of my m43 gear, and if/when I do, I think I'll just take my X100 :)

    Thanks again!
  9. Yeats

    Yeats All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Neato comparison, really fun to look at. Thanks for putting it all together. :thumbup:
  10. CM_SK

    CM_SK Regular

    Apr 23, 2013
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    Ray - good point and I should have noted that for the two "future road-map" Fuji lenses, 10-24 wide zoom and 56 f1.2, I am guessing weights based on design, as I did not find specs yet. All other Fuji lens weights are from their site…
  11. demiro

    demiro Serious Compacts For Life

    Dec 15, 2011
    Nice contribution Colin -- thanks.

    I do think what Ray mentions is very relevant. If weight reduction is your goal what do the systems offer? E-PM2 with 45/1.8, for example, can deliver great IQ to weight ratio. Not sure Fuji or anyone else really competes if you look at it that way. And it's really what I think is great about m4/3s. You can have what amounts to small DSLR bodies and zooms, all the way through to body/lens combos that aren't much bigger than compact point and shoots.
  12. wt21

    wt21 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    The XM1 and XA1 are both pretty small and light, if you did want to compar downstream. They are smaller/lighter than you might think, though I haven't compared the weight specs.
  13. CM_SK

    CM_SK Regular

    Apr 23, 2013
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    Good point, but for this comparison I admit I used criteria important to me, and I am one who will no longer use any camera without an EVF (preferably built in). So my little group is defined by "serious mirrorless camera systems with no less than m43 sensors and with built in EVF". The Pana GX-7 could have been used too; it is essentially E-M5 in weight. The grip / ergonomics issue is interesting, as you could argue that without a grip of some sort, "soap-bar" bodies are not practical if long zooms are used, thus reducing their use as a flexible system camera - would be interested in hearing from XE1 shooters if this is the case. And clearly if someone does not imagine getting more than one or two lenses in a system, they may be better off with fixed-lens solution or a two-fixed lens solution (ie. the bag of Merrills…).
  14. wt21

    wt21 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    Another question is what lenses do you want to use? D you use all those type of lenses? You might want to only focus on the ones you use, as you could convince yourself out of one system, based on lenses you might never use.

    Another viable approach noadays is a fixed lens compact, supplemented by a focused system camera, with just a few lenses.
  15. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Hall of Famer

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Well that confirms what I "felt" -- which was that I wasn't toting much more if any weight since moving from micro four thirds to Fuji.

    But it is more than suggested here since I was toting some pretty lightweight Panasonic bodies towards the end of my run with micro four thirds.
  16. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    I think that it's fair to say that all the current "premium" Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras (E-M1, E-M5, E-P5) are a bit on the portly side given the size of each camera. The E-PM2 and E-PL5 are both genuinely small AND very light of course, but the other models have a nice heft to them which could be considered both a downside and an upside.
  17. drd1135

    drd1135 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Lexington, Virginia
    As heavy as it is, I wouldn't mind taking the K3 for a spin. Just to get a little exercise of course.
  18. adanac

    adanac Veteran

    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC