Olympus E-PL9 vs Sony RX100 III
The Olympus PEN E-PL9 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2018 and May 2014. The E-PL9 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX100 III is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL9) and an one-inch (RX100 III) 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 PEN E-PL9 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III? 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-PL9 and the Sony RX100 III are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL9 can be obtained in four different colors (black, brown, blue, white), while the RX100 III 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 RX100 III is notably smaller (26 percent) than the Olympus E-PL9. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL9 nor the RX100 III are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 III has a lens built in, whereas the E-PL9 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-PL9 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the E-PL9 gets 350 shots out of its BLS-50 battery, while the RX100 III can take 320 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the RX100 III 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 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-PL9||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||n||May 2014||799|
|3.||Canon G5 X||112 mm||76 mm||44 mm||353 g||210||n||Oct 2015||799|
|4.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|5.||Olympus E-PL10||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Oct 2019||599|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|7.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|9.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|10.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|11.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|12.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|14.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|16.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||102 mm||58 mm||38 mm||281 g||350||n||Jun 2013||749|
|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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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-PL9 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony RX100 III an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 III 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-PL9 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the RX100 III offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the RX100 III offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 15.9 MP of the E-PL9. 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-PL9). Moreover, it should be noted that the E-PL9 is much more recent (by 3 years and 8 months) than the RX100 III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Sony RX100 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX100 III 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-PL9 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 Olympus PEN E-PL9 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
|3.||Canon G5 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|5.||Olympus E-PL10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|9.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|10.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|11.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|12.||Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|14.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|16.||Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67|
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 E-PL9 provides a higher video resolution than the RX100 III. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the RX100 III has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL9 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PL9, the Sony RX100 III, and comparable cameras.
|2.||Sony RX100 III||1440||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||optional||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-PL9 has a touchscreen, while the RX100 III has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
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-PL9 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-PL9 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-PL9 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX100 III 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 PEN E-PL9 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Sony RX100 III||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon G5 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the E-PL9 has a hotshoe, while the RX100 III does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the E-PL9 and the RX100 III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The RX100 III was replaced by the Sony RX100 IV, while the E-PL9 was followed by the Olympus E-PL10. 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? Is the Olympus E-PL9 better than the Sony RX100 III or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL9:
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) 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 lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 8 months of technical progress since the RX100 III launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1040k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 8.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the E-PL9 necessitates an extra lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 117x68mm) 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-PL9).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2014).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL9 emerges as the winner of the contest (13 : 10 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-PL9 and the Sony RX100 III 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-PL9 or the RX100 III. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. 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-PL9||..||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799|
|3.||Canon G5 X||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||799|
|4.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|5.||Olympus E-PL10||..||..||77/100||..||4/5||Oct 2019||599|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 III||..||+||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|7.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|9.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|10.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|11.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|12.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|14.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|16.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||5/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||749|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. 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-PL9 vs Sony RX100 III
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-PL9||Sony RX100 III|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||24-70mm f/1.8-2.8|
|Launch Date||February 2018||May 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PL9||Sony RX100 III|
|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||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VIII||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||495|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PL9||Sony RX100 III|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PL9||Sony RX100 III|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8.6 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens-based stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in 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-PL9||Sony RX100 III|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PL9||Sony RX100 III|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||320 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
117 x 68 x 39 mm
(4.6 x 2.7 x 1.5 in)
102 x 58 x 41 mm
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 in)
|Camera Weight||380 g (13.4 oz)||290 g (10.2 oz)|
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