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Sony RX10 IV versus Olympus E-M1 II

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2017 and September 2016. The RX10 IV is a fixed lens compact, while the E-M1 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (RX10 IV) and a Four Thirds (E-M1 II) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Sony RX10 IV vs Olympus E-M1 II

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony RX10 IV and the Olympus E-M1 II. 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. 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 – the RX10 IV – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony RX10 IV vs Olympus E-M1 II
RX10 IV versus E-M1 II top view
RX10 IV and E-M1 II rear side

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M1 II is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Sony RX10 IV. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX10 IV has a lens build in, whereas the E-M1 II 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 E-M1 II and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the RX10 IV gets 400 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the E-M1 II can take 440 images on a single charge of its BLH-1 power pack.

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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony RX10 IV (⇒ rgt) 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.7 in 38.6 oz 400 YES 2017 1,699 latest check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Canon G1 X Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.5 in 3.1 in 2.0 in 14.1 oz 200 YES 2017 1,299 latest check
Fujifilm X-Pro2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 17.5 oz 350 YES 2016 1,699 latest check
Fujifilm X-T2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 3.6 in 1.9 in 17.9 oz 340 YES 2016 1,599 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 no 2016 1,199 latest check
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 YES 2015 1,099 latest check
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 YES 2013 1,399discont. check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 YES 2017 1,999 latest check
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.0 in 3.5 in 2.9 in 17.8 oz 330 YES 2016 899 latest check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 YES 2016 999discont. check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 YES 2016 1,399 latest check
Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.0 in 37.1 oz 420 YES 2016 1,499discont. check
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 220 no 2016 999 latest check
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 400 YES 2015 1,299discont. check
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 420 YES 2013 1,299discont. check

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. The RX10 IV was launched at a lower price than the E-M1 II, 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.

Sensor comparison: Sony RX10 IV vs Olympus E-M1 II

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 Sony RX10 IV features an one-inch sensor and the Olympus E-M1 II a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M1 II is 94 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 2.0. The sensor in the RX10 IV has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M1 II offers a 4:3 aspect.

Sony RX10 IV and Olympus E-M1 II sensor measures

With 20.2MP, the E-M1 II offers a higher resolution than the RX10 IV (20MP), but the E-M1 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 2.41μm for the RX10 IV) due to its larger sensor. However, the RX10 IV is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the E-M1 II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the RX10 IV, the E-M1 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (50MP) 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).

RX10 IV versus E-M1 II MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX10 IV (⇒ rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.7 12.8 1312 80
Canon G1 X Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p .. .. .. ..
Fujifilm X-Pro2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p - - - -
Fujifilm X-T2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p - - - -
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.7 5568 3712 4K/30p 24.0 14.0 1324 83
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 1080/60p 23.1 12.4 894 74
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60p 23.0 12.5 842 73
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p 23.0 12.7 757 73
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/60p 23.9 13.0 807 77
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 4K/30p 22.8 12.5 656 71
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.4 13.7 1437 85
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.5 13.7 1405 85
Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 23.1 12.6 472 70
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.4 586 70
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 23.0 12.6 531 70
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.9 12.6 474 69

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

Feature comparison: Sony RX10 IV vs Olympus E-M1 II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the E-M1 II offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the RX10 IV (2360k vs 2359k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony RX10 IV, the Olympus E-M1 II, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony RX10 IV (⇒ rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1440 tilting YES 2000 24.0 10.8 YES
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 18.0 no YES
Canon G1 X Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 2000 9.0 9 YES
Fujifilm X-Pro2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1620 fixed no 8000 8.0 no no
Fujifilm X-T2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 tilting no 8000 14.0 no no
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 2359 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no no
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 no 3.2 1620 swivel YES 8000 12.0 no YES
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 9.0 6.2 YES
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 11.0 6 YES
Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 14.0 10.8 YES
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 24.0 10.2 YES
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 3200 14.0 10.2 YES
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 3200 10.0 10.2 YES

Both the RX10 IV and the E-M1 II are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The E-M1 II replaced the earlier Olympus E-M1, while the RX10 IV followed on from the Sony RX10 III.

Review summary: Sony RX10 IV vs Olympus E-M1 II

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony RX10 IV and the Olympus E-M1 II? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 1037k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (24 vs 18 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the E-M1 II requires a separate lens.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the E-M1 II).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

  • 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 low-light imaging: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for better high-ISO images.
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2016).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX10 IV comes out slightly ahead of the E-M1 II (8 : 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.

RX10 IV 08:07 E-M1 II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the RX10 IV or the E-M1 II. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony RX10 IV (⇒ rgt) Rec 84/100 Gold 4.5/5 .. 5/5 2017 1,699 latest check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Canon G1 X Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 79/100 4.5/5 .. 4.5/5 2017 1,299 latest check
Fujifilm X-Pro2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,699 latest check
Fujifilm X-T2 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 86/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 1,599 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 91/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) - 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2016 1,199 latest 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-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,399discont. check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 1,999 latest check
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 899 latest check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 85/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 999discont. check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,399 latest check
Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 84/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,499discont. check
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 999 latest check
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2015 1,299discont. check
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,299discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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