Olympus E-PL1 vs Sony RX0
The Olympus PEN E-PL1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX0 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2010 and August 2017. The E-PL1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX0 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL1) and an one-inch (RX0) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 15.4 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 PEN E-PL1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX0? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL1 and the Sony RX0 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL1 can be obtained in four different colors (black, blue, yellow, white), while the RX0 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 RX0 is considerably smaller (71 percent) than the Olympus E-PL1. It is noteworthy in this context that the RX0 is splash and dust-proof, while the E-PL1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing. More than that, the RX0 is water-proof up to 10m and can, thus, be used for underwater photography.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX0 has a lens built in, whereas the E-PL1 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-PL1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The power pack in the RX0 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|2.||Sony RX0||59 mm||41 mm||30 mm||110 g||240||Y||Aug 2017||699|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|8.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|11.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|12.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|13.||Sony RX0 II||59 mm||41 mm||35 mm||132 g||240||Y||Mar 2019||699|
|14.||Sony RX10 IV||133 mm||94 mm||145 mm||1095 g||400||Y||Sep 2017||1,699|
|15.||Sony RX10 III||133 mm||94 mm||127 mm||1051 g||420||Y||Mar 2016||1,499|
|16.||Sony RX10 II||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|17.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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-PL1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony RX0 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX0 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-PL1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the RX0 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the RX0 offers a higher resolution of 15.4 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the E-PL1. 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 2.74μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PL1). However, it should be noted that the RX0 is much more recent (by 7 years and 6 months) than the E-PL1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Sony RX0 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX0 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.2 x 12.8 inches or 48.8 x 32.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16 x 10.7 inches or 40.6 x 27.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL1 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus PEN E-PL1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX0 are ISO 125 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the RX0 offers substantially better image quality than the E-PL1 (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|8.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|11.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|12.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|13.||Sony RX0 II||1-inch||15.4||4800||3200||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Sony RX10 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Sony RX10 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.1||12.6||472||70|
|16.||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 have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the RX0 provides a better video resolution than the E-PL1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-PL1 and the RX0 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the E-PL1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PL1, the Sony RX0, and comparable cameras.
|13.||Sony RX0 II||none||n||1.5||230||tilting||n||..||5.5||n||n|
|14.||Sony RX10 IV||2359||Y||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony RX10 III||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||14.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-PL1 has one, while the RX0 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-PL1 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
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 RX0 only has 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 E-PL1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the RX0 uses micro SDXC or Memory Stick Micro cards. The RX0 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the E-PL1 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 PEN E-PL1 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX0 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|13.||Sony RX0 II||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|14.||Sony RX10 IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony RX10 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the E-PL1 has a hotshoe, while the RX0 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the E-PL1 and the RX0 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL1 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL2, while the RX0 was followed by the Sony RX0 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-PL1 or the Sony RX0 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL1:
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 1.5") for image review and settings control.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (290 versus 240) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2010).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX0:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.4 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the E-PL1 necessitates an extra lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (59x41mm vs 115x72mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the E-PL1).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Water-proof: Is rugged and sealed and can thus be used for underwater photography (up to 10m).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 6 months of technical progress since the E-PL1 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the RX0 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 8 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. 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-PL1 and the Sony RX0 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-PL1 or the RX0 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|2.||Sony RX0||..||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2017||699|
|3.||Olympus E-PL9||..||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|4.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|5.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|6.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|7.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|8.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|9.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|10.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|11.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|12.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|13.||Sony RX0 II||..||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Mar 2019||699|
|14.||Sony RX10 IV||5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2017||1,699|
|15.||Sony RX10 III||5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2016||1,499|
|16.||Sony RX10 II||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|17.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Olympus E-PL1 vs Sony RX0
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-PL1||Sony RX0|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||24mm f/4.0|
|Launch Date||February 2010||August 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony RX0|
|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||12.2 Megapixels||15.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||4800 x 3200 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||2.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||13.22 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||125 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Truepic V||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||54||68|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||22.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.1||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||487||548|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony RX0|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||no viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||1.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony RX0|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||..|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||no handshake reduction|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||mMS or mSDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony RX0|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL1||Sony RX0|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Waterproof body (10m)|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||290 shots per charge||240 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
115 x 72 x 42 mm
(4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
59 x 41 x 30 mm
(2.3 x 1.6 x 1.2 in)
|Camera Weight||334 g (11.8 oz)||110 g (3.9 oz)|
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