Olympus E-PM2 vs Sony RX1R II
The Olympus PEN E-PM2 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and October 2015. The E-PM2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX1R II is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PM2) and a full frame (RX1R II) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 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-PM2 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PM2 and the Sony RX1R II. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PM2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the RX1R II 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 RX1R II is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Olympus E-PM2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PM2 nor the RX1R II are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX1R II has a lens built in, whereas the E-PM2 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-PM2 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the E-PM2 gets 360 shots out of its BLS-5 battery, while the RX1R II can take 220 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the RX1R II 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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Olympus E-PM2||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|Sony RX1R II||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.9 oz||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299|
|Canon 5DS||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS R||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Leica Q Typ 116||5.1 in||3.1 in||3.7 in||22.6 oz||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|Olympus E-PL9||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||13.4 oz||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|Olympus E-PL8||4.5 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||12.6 oz||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||4.7 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||13.8 oz||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-PL7||4.5 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||12.6 oz||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|Olympus E-P5||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-PL6||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||May 2013||599|
|Olympus E-PL5||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|Panasonic GX850||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||210||n||Jan 2017||549|
|Sony RX1R||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.0 oz||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|Sony RX1||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.0 oz||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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. 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. 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-PM2 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony RX1R II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the RX1R II is 280 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the E-PM2 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the RX1R II offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 42.2MP, the RX1R II offers a higher resolution than the E-PM2 (15.9MP), but the RX1R II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.50μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PM2) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the RX1R II is a much more recent model (by 3 years) than the E-PM2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the RX1R II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony RX1R II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX1R II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inches or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inches or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inches or 67.3 x 44.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PM2 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-PM2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 RX1R II offers substantially better image quality than the E-PM2 (overall score 25 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.1 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.8 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.
|Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97|
|Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73|
|Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
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 RX1R II provides a faster frame rate than the E-PM2. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the RX1R II has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-PM2 and Sony RX1R II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-PM2 has a touchscreen, while the RX1R II has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The E-PM2 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX1R II 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-PM2 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the RX1R II offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-PM2 does not provide wifi capability.
The RX1R II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the E-PM2 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the E-PM2 from Olympus. 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 is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-PM2 or the Sony RX1R II – 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.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PM2:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (360 versus 220) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2012).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 66%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (25 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- 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.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the E-PM2 necessitates an extra lens.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- 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.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the E-PM2 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX1R II is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 7 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-PM2 and the Sony RX1R II 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-PM2 and the RX1R II in practical situations. 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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-PM2||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|Sony RX1R II||..||82/100||..||o||4.5/5||Oct 2015||3,299|
|Canon 5DS||+||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS R||+||83/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Leica Q Typ 116||..||80/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|Olympus E-PL9||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|Olympus E-PL8||..||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-PL7||+||..||5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|Olympus E-P5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|Olympus E-PL5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Panasonic GX850||+||76/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||549|
|Sony RX1R||..||..||4/5||o||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|Sony RX1||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 6D Mark II vs Olympus E-PM2
- Canon SX620 vs Olympus E-PM2
- Leica D-LUX 5 vs Olympus E-PM2
- Leica D-LUX 7 vs Olympus E-PM2
- Leica D-LUX Typ 109 vs Olympus E-PM2
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony RX1R II
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Sony RX1R II
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Sony RX10
- Panasonic ZS70 vs Sony RX1R II
- Ricoh GR vs Sony RX1R II
- Sony RX10 IV vs Sony RX1R II
- Sony RX100 V vs Sony RX1R II
Specifications: Olympus E-PM2 vs Sony RX1R II
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-PM2||Sony RX1R II|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||35mm f/2.0|
|Launch Date||September 2012||October 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 3,299|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Sony RX1R II|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.8 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||855.62 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||42.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||7952 x 5304 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||4.50 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||4.93 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||97|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.7||25.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2||13.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||932||3204|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Sony RX1R II|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k 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|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Sony RX1R II|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||no handshake reduction|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board 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-PM2||Sony RX1R II|
|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|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-PM2||Sony RX1R II|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 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)
113 x 65 x 72 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||269 g (9.5 oz)||507 g (17.9 oz)|
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