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Sony RX100 III versus Olympus E-M1 II

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2014 and September 2016. The RX100 III is a fixed lens compact, while the E-M1 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (RX100 III) and a Four Thirds sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 MP.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony RX100 III and the Olympus E-M1 II is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. 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 – the RX100 III – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Sony RX100 III vs Olympus E-M1 II front
RX100 III versus E-M1 II top view
RX100 III and E-M1 II rear side
Body view (RX100 III on the left)

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 considerably larger (106 percent) than the Sony RX100 III. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M1 II is splash and dust-proof, while the RX100 III does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 III 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.

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
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 RX100 III (⇒ rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 290 g 320 no 2014 799discont. check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 no 2015 529discont. check
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 111 mm 68 mm 44 mm 366 g 250 no 2015 679discont. check
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 no 2015 799 latest check
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 no 2014 799 latest check
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 no 2014 699discont. check
Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 no 2016 1,199 latest check
Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 85 mm 45 mm 469 g 310 YES 2015 1,099 latest check
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 94 mm 63 mm 497 g 350 YES 2013 1,399discont. check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 725 g 410 YES 2017 1,999 latest check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 YES 2015 1,199 latest check
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 no 2014 899discont. check
Panasonic LX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 115 mm 66 mm 55 mm 393 g 300 no 2014 899 latest check
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 88 mm 102 mm 813 g 400 YES 2015 1,299discont. check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 298 g 280 no 2015 999discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 38 mm 281 g 350 no 2013 749discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The RX100 III 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

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. 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 Sony RX100 III 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 RX100 III has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M1 II offers a 4:3 aspect.

Sony RX100 III and Olympus E-M1 II sensor measures
Sensor size

With 20.2MP, the E-M1 II offers a higher resolution than the RX100 III (20MP), but the E-M1 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 2.41μm for the RX100 III) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the E-M1 II is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 4 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 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 RX100 III, 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).

RX100 III versus E-M1 II MP
Sensor resolution

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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-M1 II offers substantially better image quality than the RX100 III (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.4 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.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX100 III (⇒ rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.4 12.3 495 67
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.7 12.8 1312 80
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.5 12.3 495 63
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/30p 22.8 11.8 1169 72
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p - - - -
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 3120 1080/30p 21.5 10.8 581 58
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 23.0 12.7 556 71
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 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
Panasonic LX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.7 4112 3088 4K/30p 22.3 12.5 553 67
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 23.0 12.6 531 70
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.6 591 70
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 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 can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the E-M1 II provides a better video resolution than the RX100 III. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

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 substantially higher resolution than the one in the RX100 III (2360k vs 1440k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony RX100 III and Olympus E-M1 II along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, 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 RX100 III (⇒ rgt) 1440 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 YES no
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 18.0 no YES
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 6.0 6 no
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 4.2 5 no
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 2000 5.9 7 no
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 5.2 6.8 no
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 2000 6.5 7 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 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 no
Panasonic LX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2764 no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 11.0 7 no
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 3200 14.0 10.2 no
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1228 tilting no 2000 16.0 10.2 no
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 15 no

The E-M1 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the RX100 III has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the RX100 III was succeeded by the Sony RX100 IV.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony RX100 III and the Sony RX100 III? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


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Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III:

  • 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 a lens build-in, whereas the E-M1 II requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 134x91mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a build-in lens (unlike the E-M1 II).
  • 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 heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in May 2014).

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Arguments in favor of 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 image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has a higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 1440k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has a higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (18 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (440 versus 320) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the RX100 III launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-M1 II is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs.

RX100 III 08:16 E-M1 II

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 RX100 III and the E-M1 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 following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony RX100 III (⇒ rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 799discont. check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec - 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 529discont. check
Canon M3 (⇒ lft | rgt) reviewed 75/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2015 679discont. check
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 799 latest check
Canon G1 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2014 799 latest check
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 3.5/5 4.5/5 2014 699discont. 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 GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 1,199 latest check
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 899discont. check
Panasonic LX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 5/5 4/5 5/5 2014 899 latest check
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2015 1,299discont. check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 999discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2013 749discont. check

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. 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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Other comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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