Olympus E-M1 vs Sony RX10
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2013 and October 2013. The E-M1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX10 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-M1) and an one-inch (RX10) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 20 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-M1 and the Sony RX10 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the RX10 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX10 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Olympus E-M1. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX10 has a lens built in, whereas the E-M1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-M1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the E-M1 gets 350 shots out of its BLN-1 battery, while the RX10 can take 420 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the RX10 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|2.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|3.||Canon G3 X||123 mm||77 mm||105 mm||733 g||300||Y||Jun 2015||999|
|4.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|5.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|7.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|9.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|10.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|11.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|12.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|14.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|15.||Panasonic GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499|
|16.||Panasonic GH3||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||Y||Sep 2012||1,299|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The RX10 was launched at a lower price than the E-M1, despite having a lens built in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-M1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony RX10 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX10 is 48 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 2.7. The sensor in the E-M1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the RX10 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the RX10 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 15.9 MP of the E-M1. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.41μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M1). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony RX10 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX10 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-M1 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The E-M1 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 are ISO 125 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the E-M1 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the RX10 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.1 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|3.||Canon G3 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||521||63|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|7.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|9.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|10.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|11.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|12.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|13.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|15.||Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|16.||Panasonic GH3||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the RX10 provides a faster frame rate than the E-M1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the E-M1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the RX10 (2360k vs 1440k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-M1, the Sony RX10, and comparable cameras.
|3.||Canon G3 X||optional||n||3.2||1620||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-M1 has a touchscreen, while the RX10 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the E-M1 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus E-M1 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The E-M1 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX10 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon G3 X||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M1 (unlike the RX10) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-M1 and the RX10 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-M1 was replaced by the Olympus E-M1 II, while the RX10 was followed by the Sony RX10 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-M1 or the Sony RX10 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M1:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 1440k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.70x).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/3200s) to freeze action.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1037k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the E-M1 necessitates an extra lens.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (420 versus 350) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (12 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M1 and the Sony RX10 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-M1 or the RX10. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|2.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|3.||Canon G3 X||3.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||999|
|4.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|5.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|7.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|8.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|9.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|10.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|11.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|12.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|14.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|15.||Panasonic GH4||5/5||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499|
|16.||Panasonic GH3||5/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,299|
|17.||Sony RX10 II||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Olympus E-M1 vs Sony RX10
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Olympus E-M1||Sony RX10|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||24-200mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||September 2013||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1,399||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M1||Sony RX10|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||125 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePIC VII||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||73||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.0||22.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.7||12.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||757||474|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M1||Sony RX10|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||1440k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M1||Sony RX10|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/3200s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens-based stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M1||Sony RX10|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M1||Sony RX10|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||420 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
130 x 94 x 63 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
129 x 88 x 102 mm
(5.1 x 3.5 x 4.0 in)
|Camera Weight||497 g (17.5 oz)||813 g (28.7 oz)|
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