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Sony RX100 V versus Olympus E-M5

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2016 and February 2012. The RX100 V is a fixed lens compact, while the E-M5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (RX100 V) and a Four Thirds (E-M5) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 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 RX100 V vs Olympus E-M5

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony RX100 V and the Olympus E-M5 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 toggle the display 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 V – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony RX100 V vs Olympus E-M5
RX100 V versus E-M5 top view
RX100 V and E-M5 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-M5 is considerably larger (84 percent) than the Sony RX100 V. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M5 is splash and dust-proof, while the RX100 V does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 V has a lens build in, whereas the E-M5 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-M5 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the RX100 V gets 220 shots out of its NP-BX1 battery, while the E-M5 can take 360 images on a single charge of its BLN-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 RX100 V (⇒ rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 220 no 2016 999 latest check
Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft) 4.8 in 3.5 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 360 YES 2012 1,299discont. check
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.3 oz 235 no 2017 529 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 no 2016 979 latest check
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.4 oz 220 no 2015 529discont. check
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 no 2015 849discont. check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 YES 2015 999 latest check
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 14.8 oz 820 no 2015 899discont. check
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 no 2015 799discont. 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-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 14.0 oz 320 no 2014 699discont. check
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 YES 2013 1,399discont. check
Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 14.8 oz 330 no 2013 999discont. check
Sony RX100 VI (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.7 in 10.6 oz 240 no 2018 1,199 latest check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 no 2015 999discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 no 2014 799discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 no 2013 749discont. 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 RX100 V was launched at a lower price than the E-M5, 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 RX100 V vs Olympus E-M5

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 RX100 V features an one-inch sensor and the Olympus E-M5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 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 V has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M5 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Sony RX100 V and Olympus E-M5 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Sony RX100 V offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixel, compared with 15.9 MP of the Olympus E-M5. This megapixel 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 3.76μm for the E-M5). However, it should be noted that the RX100 V is much more recent (by 4 years and 7 months) than the E-M5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

RX100 V versus E-M5 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX100 V (⇒ rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.4 586 70
Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60i 22.8 12.3 826 71
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.9 12.5 522 65
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.4 12.4 1262 77
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.5 12.3 495 63
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/30p 22.6 12.0 915 70
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.4 12.3 521 63
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1438 84
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-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p 23.0 12.7 757 73
Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/30p 22.8 12.4 895 72
Sony RX100 VI (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
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 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 also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the RX100 V provides a higher video resolution than the E-M5. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.

Feature comparison: Sony RX100 V vs Olympus E-M5

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the RX100 V offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the E-M5 (2359k vs 1440k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony RX100 V and Olympus E-M5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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 V (⇒ rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 24.0 10.2 YES
Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft) 1440 no 3.0 610 tilting YES 4000 9.0 no YES
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 8.2 6 YES
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 4000 9.0 5 no
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 6.0 6 YES
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 2000 5.9 6.8 YES
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
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-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1037 tilting YES 8000 9.0 7 YES
Sony RX100 VI (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1229 tilting YES 2000 24.0 5.9 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 II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 15 YES

The RX100 V is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the E-M5 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-M5 was succeeded by the Olympus E-M5 II.

Review summary: Sony RX100 V vs Olympus E-M5

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony RX100 V and the Olympus E-M5? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


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Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 15.9MP) with a 14% higher linear resolution.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2359k vs 1440k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 610k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (24 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the E-M5 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 122x89mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a build-in lens (unlike the E-M5).
  • 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: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-M5 launch.

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Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (4000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (360 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2012).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 V is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 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.

RX100 V 11:07 E-M5

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the RX100 V and the E-M5 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available 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 RX100 V (⇒ rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 999 latest check
Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft) HiRec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2012 1,299discont. check
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) .. 75/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 529 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 979 latest check
Canon G9 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec - 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 529discont. check
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 849discont. check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 3.5/5 4/5 2015 999 latest check
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 899discont. check
Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 5/5 5/5 2015 799discont. 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 699discont. check
Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,399discont. check
Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 999discont. check
Sony RX100 VI (⇒ lft | rgt) .. .. .. .. .. 2018 1,199 latest check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 999discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 799discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2013 749discont. check

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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