Olympus E-PM1 vs Sony RX100 V
The Olympus PEN E-PM1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2011 and October 2016. The E-PM1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX100 V is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PM1) and an one-inch (RX100 V) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 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-PM1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V? 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-PM1 and the Sony RX100 V 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PM1 can be obtained in six different colors (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white), while the RX100 V 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 V is notably smaller (16 percent) than the Olympus E-PM1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PM1 nor the RX100 V are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 V has a lens built in, whereas the E-PM1 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-PM1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the E-PM1 gets 330 shots out of its BLS-5 battery, while the RX100 V can take 220 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the RX100 V can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Olympus E-PM1||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|Sony RX100 V||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.5 oz||220||n||Oct 2016||999|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||4.2 in||2.4 in||1.7 in||11.3 oz||265||n||Feb 2016||699|
|Canon G3 X||4.8 in||3.0 in||4.1 in||25.9 oz||300||Y||Jun 2015||999|
|Canon G5 X||4.4 in||3.0 in||1.7 in||12.5 oz||210||n||Oct 2015||799|
|Olympus E-PL5||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PM2||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|Olympus E-P3||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.0 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||12.8 oz||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL1||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||11.8 oz||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF5||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||9.4 oz||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic GF3||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic G2||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||15.1 oz||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|Sony RX100 VII||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.7 in||10.7 oz||260||n||Jul 2019||1,199|
|Sony RX100 IV||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.5 oz||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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. 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. 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-PM1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony RX100 V an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 V 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-PM1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the RX100 V offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the RX100 V offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the E-PM1. 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 4.29μm for the E-PM1). However, it should be noted that the RX100 V is much more recent (by 5 years and 3 months) than the E-PM1, 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 RX100 V implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX100 V 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-PM1 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-PM1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V are ISO 125 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the RX100 V offers substantially better image quality than the E-PM1 (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 2.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Sony RX100 V||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||586||70|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon G3 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||521||63|
|Canon G5 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|Sony RX100 VII||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||21.8||12.4||418||63|
|Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||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 RX100 V provides a better video resolution than the E-PM1. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the RX100 V has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-PM1 and Sony RX100 V along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Sony RX100 V||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|Canon G3 X||optional||n||3.2||1620||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 VII||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||Y||1/2000s||90.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The RX100 V has one, while the E-PM1 does not. While the built-in flash of the RX100 V is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The RX100 V has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the E-PM1 does not have a selfie-screen.
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 RX100 V 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 E-PM1 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX100 V uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The RX100 V supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the E-PM1 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-PM1 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony RX100 V||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon G3 X||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon G5 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX100 VII||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the E-PM1 has a hotshoe, while the RX100 V does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The RX100 V is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the E-PM1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-PM1 was succeeded by the Olympus E-PM2. 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-PM1 or the Sony RX100 V – 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.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PM1:
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (330 versus 220) on a single battery charge.
- 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 June 2011).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 30%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (24 vs 5.5 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-PM1 necessitates an extra lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 110x64mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- 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 file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-PM1 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 V is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 5 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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-PM1 and the Sony RX100 V 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 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-PM1 or the RX100 V perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Olympus E-PM1||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Sony RX100 V||+ +||83/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||999|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||699|
|Canon G3 X||+||..||4.5/5||3.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||999|
|Canon G5 X||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||799|
|Olympus E-PL5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PM2||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|Olympus E-P3||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL1||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic GF3||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic G2||..||72/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|Sony RX100 VII||..||..||4/5||..||5/5||Jul 2019||1,199|
|Sony RX100 IV||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 20D vs Sony RX100 V
- Fujifilm X-E1 vs Sony RX100 V
- Leica C-LUX vs Olympus E-PM1
- Leica TL vs Sony RX100 V
- Leica X-U Typ 113 vs Sony RX100 V
- Nikon D7100 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Nikon D800 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus E-P5 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Sony A7R
- Panasonic GH5s vs Sony RX100 V
- Panasonic LX100 vs Sony RX100 V
Specifications: Olympus E-PM1 vs Sony RX100 V
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-PM1||Sony RX100 V|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||24-70mm f/1.8-2.8|
|Launch Date||June 2011||October 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Sony RX100 V|
|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||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||125 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||52||70|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.0||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||499||586|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Sony RX100 V|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Sony RX100 V|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5.5 shutter flaps/s||24 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens-based stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Sony RX100 V|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PM1||Sony RX100 V|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||220 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
102 x 58 x 41 mm
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 in)
|Camera Weight||265 g (9.3 oz)||299 g (10.5 oz)|
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