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Sony RX100 V versus Olympus PEN-F

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V and the Olympus PEN-F are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2016 and January 2016. The RX100 V is a fixed lens compact, while the PEN-F is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (RX100 V) and a Four Thirds (PEN-F) 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 RX100 V vs Olympus PEN-F

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony RX100 V and the Olympus PEN-F is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures 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 V – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony RX100 V vs Olympus PEN-F
Compare RX100 V versus PEN-F top
Compare RX100 V and PEN-F rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus PEN-F is considerably larger (52 percent) than the Sony RX100 V. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the RX100 V nor the PEN-F are weather-sealed.

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 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.

Concerning battery life, the RX100 V gets 220 shots out of its NP-BX1 battery, while the PEN-F can take 330 images on a single charge of its BLN-1 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony RX100 V» 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 220 n Oct 2016 999 i i Sony RX100 V
Olympus PEN-F« 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Canon G7 X Mark II« » 4.2 in 2.4 in 1.7 in 11.3 oz 265 n Feb 2016 699 i i Canon G7 X Mark II
Canon G3 X« » 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 Y Jun 2015 999 i i Canon G3 X
Canon G5 X« » 4.4 in 3.0 in 1.7 in 12.5 oz 210 n Oct 2015 799 i i Canon G5 X
Leica C-LUX« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.0 oz 370 n Jun 2018 1,049 i i Leica C-LUX
Olympus E-M10 III« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.0 in 14.5 oz 330 n Aug 2017 649 i i Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M5 II« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M10 II« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 n Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M1« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-P5« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 14.8 oz 330 n May 2013 999- i Olympus E-P5
Panasonic FZ2500« » 5.4 in 4.0 in 5.3 in 32.3 oz 350 n Sep 2016 1,199 i i Panasonic FZ2500
Sony RX100 VI« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.7 in 10.6 oz 240 n Jun 2018 1,199 i i Sony RX100 VI
Sony RX10 III« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.0 in 37.1 oz 420 Y Mar 2016 1,499 i i Sony RX10 III
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX100 III« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 n Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony RX100 V vs Olympus PEN-F

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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and 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 PEN-F a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the PEN-F 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 PEN-F offers a 4:3 aspect.

Sony RX100 V and Olympus PEN-F sensor measures

With 20.2MP, the PEN-F offers a higher resolution than the RX100 V (20MP), but the PEN-F nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 2.41μm for the RX100 V) due to its larger sensor. However, the RX100 V is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the PEN-F, 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 PEN-F has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the RX100 V, 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).

RX100 V versus PEN-F MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the PEN-F has a markedly higher DXO score than the RX100 V (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.3 bits higher color depth, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Sony RX100 V» 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.458670Sony RX100 V
Olympus PEN-F« Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474Olympus PEN-F
Canon G7 X Mark II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----Canon G7 X Mark II
Canon G3 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.412.352163Canon G3 X
Canon G5 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----Canon G5 X
Leica C-LUX« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Leica C-LUX
Olympus E-M10 III« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p----Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M10 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M1« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-P5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572Olympus E-P5
Panasonic FZ2500« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Panasonic FZ2500
Sony RX100 VI« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Sony RX100 VI
Sony RX10 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.112.647270Sony RX10 III
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX100 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367Sony RX100 II

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the RX100 V provides a higher video resolution than the PEN-F. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony RX100 V vs Olympus PEN-F

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the PEN-F offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the RX100 V (2360k vs 2359k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony RX100 V, the Olympus PEN-F, 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
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Sony RX100 V»2359 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 24.0 Y Y Sony RX100 V
Olympus PEN-F«2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus PEN-F
Canon G7 X Mark II« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 2000 8.0 Y Y Canon G7 X Mark II
Canon G3 X« »- n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 2000 5.9 Y Y Canon G3 X
Canon G5 X« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 5.9 Y Y Canon G5 X
Leica C-LUX« »2330 n 3.0 1240 fixed Y 2000 10.0 Y Y Leica C-LUX
Olympus E-M10 III« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.6 Y Y Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M10 II« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M1« »2360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-P5« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 9.0 Y Y Olympus E-P5
Panasonic FZ2500« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ2500
Sony RX100 VI« »2359 n 3.0 1229 tilting Y 2000 24.0 Y Y Sony RX100 VI
Sony RX10 III« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 14.0 Y Y Sony RX10 III
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX100 III« »1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 II

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The RX100 V has one, while the PEN-F does not. While the build-in flash of the RX100 V is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, both cameras feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

The RX100 V writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the PEN-F uses SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Sony RX100 V»-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 V
Olympus PEN-F«Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus PEN-F
Canon G7 X Mark II« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Canon G7 X Mark II
Canon G3 X« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon G3 X
Canon G5 X« »Ystereomono--mini2.0YY-Canon G5 X
Leica C-LUX« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Leica C-LUX
Olympus E-M10 III« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M5 II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M10 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M1« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-P5« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-P5
Panasonic FZ2500« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0Y--Panasonic FZ2500
Sony RX100 VI« »-stereomono--micro2.0YYYSony RX100 VI
Sony RX10 III« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10 III
Sony RX100 IV« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX100 III« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 II

Both the RX100 V and the PEN-F are recent models that feature in their makers' current product line-up. The RX100 V replaced the earlier Sony RX100 IV, while the PEN-F does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Sony RX100 V vs Olympus PEN-F

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX100 V or the Olympus PEN-F – has the upper hand? 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:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1037k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (24 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the PEN-F requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 125x72mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a build-in lens (unlike the PEN-F).
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 8 months after the PEN-F).

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Advantages of 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 (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • More flexible LCD: Has 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 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.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (330 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2016).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (11 points each). 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 11:11 PEN-F

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 PEN-F 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony RX100 V»HiRec83/1004/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 999 i i Sony RX100 V
Olympus PEN-F«-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Canon G7 X Mark II« »HiRec81/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2016 699 i i Canon G7 X Mark II
Canon G3 X« »Rec-4.5/53.5/54/5 Jun 2015 999 i i Canon G3 X
Canon G5 X« »HiRec78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i i Canon G5 X
Leica C-LUX« »----4/5 Jun 2018 1,049 i i Leica C-LUX
Olympus E-M10 III« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Aug 2017 649 i i Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M10 II« »HiRec80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M1« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-P5« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999- i Olympus E-P5
Panasonic FZ2500« »Rec82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Sep 2016 1,199 i i Panasonic FZ2500
Sony RX100 VI« »HiRec83/1004/5-4.5/5 Jun 2018 1,199 i i Sony RX100 VI
Sony RX10 III« »Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2016 1,499 i i Sony RX10 III
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX100 III« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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