Olympus PEN-F versus Sony RX100 II
The Olympus PEN-F and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and June 2013. The PEN-F is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX100 II is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (PEN-F) and an one-inch sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 20.2 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 20 MP.
The physical size and weight of the Olympus PEN-F and the Sony RX100 II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the PEN-F – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX100 II is considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Olympus PEN-F. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the PEN-F nor the RX100 II are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 II has a lens build in, whereas the PEN-F is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the PEN-F and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ rgt)||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||no||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft)||102 mm||58 mm||38 mm||281 g||350||no||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt)||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||no||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||no||2017||649||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||no||2015||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||no||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||no||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||no||2016||799||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||no||2014||899||discont.||check|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||YES||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt)||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||299 g||220||no||2016||999||latest||check|
|Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||no||2015||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||no||2014||799||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||240 g||330||no||2012||649||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The RX100 II was launched at a lower price than the PEN-F, despite having a lens build in. 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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus PEN-F features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony RX100 II an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 II 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 PEN-F has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the RX100 II offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 20.2MP, the PEN-F offers a slightly higher resolution than the RX100 II (20MP), but the PEN-F nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 2.41μm for the RX100 II) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the PEN-F is a somewhat more recent model (by 2 years and 7 months) than the RX100 II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the PEN-F has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
Unlike the RX100 II, the PEN-F has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (40MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the PEN-F has a notably higher overall DXO score than the RX100 II (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, and 0.9 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.
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67|
|Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.1||11.7||517||64|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85|
|Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||586||70|
|Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
|Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.6||12.4||390||66|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the PEN-F has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the RX100 II relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus PEN-F and Sony RX100 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft)||no||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||2000||10.0||15||YES|
|Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||2000||6.5||7||YES|
|Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||8.6||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||18.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||9.0||7||YES|
|Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2765||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||6||YES|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||921||swivel||no||4000||12.0||13.5||YES|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||YES||4000||11.0||6||YES|
|Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||2000||24.0||10.2||YES|
|Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||1228||tilting||no||2000||16.0||10.2||YES|
|Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||2000||10.0||YES||YES|
|Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1229||fixed||no||2000||10.0||YES||YES|
The PEN-F is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the RX100 II has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the RX100 II was succeeded by the Sony RX100 III.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus PEN-F better than the Sony RX100 II or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN-F:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 7 months of technical progress since the RX100 II launch.
Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1037k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the PEN-F necessitates an extra lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 125x72mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens build in (unlike the PEN-F).
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2013).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the PEN-F emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the PEN-F and the RX100 II in practical situations. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ rgt)||-||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft)||HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||80/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||2017||649||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Silver||5/5||5/5||5/5||2015||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||81/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||799||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2014||899||discont.||check|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||83/100 Silver||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||999||latest||check|
|Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2015||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2014||799||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4/5||5/5||5/5||2012||649||discont.||check|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 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.
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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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