Canon 550D vs Panasonic GH4
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2010 and February 2014. The 550D is a DSLR, while the GH4 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (550D) and a Four Thirds (GH4) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon 550D||Panasonic GH4|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor||15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800)||ISO 200-25,600|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 1040k dots||3.0 LCD, 1036k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Swivel touchscreen|
|3.7 shutter flaps per second||12 shutter flaps per second|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|440 shots per battery charge||500 shots per battery charge|
|129 x 98 x 62 mm, 530 g||133 x 93 x 84 mm, 560 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 550D and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Panasonic GH4 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH4 is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Canon 550D. However, the GH4 is markedly heavier (6 percent) than the 550D. It is noteworthy in this context that the GH4 is splash and dust-proof, while the 550D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (550D) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GH4). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GH4, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|Panasonic GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499|
|Canon 4000D||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GH3||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||Y||Sep 2012||1,299|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 550D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 53 percent) than the GH4, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 Canon 550D features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GH4 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GH4 is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the 550D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GH4 offers a 4:3 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 17.9MP, the 550D offers a higher resolution than the GH4 (15.9MP), but the 550D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 3.76μm for the GH4) due to its larger sensor. However, the GH4 is a much more recent model (by 4 years) than the 550D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 550D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 550D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GH4 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 550D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 consideration, the GH4 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 550D (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 1.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and -0 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.
|Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|Panasonic GH3||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
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, but the GH4 provides a better video resolution than the 550D. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the GH4 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the 550D has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the GH4 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 550D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the GH4 has a higher magnification (0.67x vs 0.54x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 550D and Panasonic GH4 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GH4 has a touchscreen, while the 550D has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The GH4 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 550D does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the GH4 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Panasonic GH4 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 550D and the GH4 write their files to SDXC cards. The GH4 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 550D cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 550D and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the GH4 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 550D does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Panasonic GH4 (unlike the 550D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 550D and the GH4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 550D was replaced by the Canon 600D, while the GH4 was followed by the Panasonic GH5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Panasonic websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 550D and the Panasonic GH4? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 550D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 15.9MP) with a 8% higher linear resolution.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (53 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2010).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.67x vs 0.54x).
- 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the 550D launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GH4 is the clear winner of the contest (23 : 4 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 550D and the Panasonic GH4 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 550D and the GH4 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Canon 550D||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|Panasonic GH4||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499|
|Canon 4000D||o||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|Canon 750D||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon 760D||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|Canon 1200D||+||..||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon 700D||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|Canon 650D||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|Canon 600D||o||77/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|Canon 1100D||80/100||69/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|Canon 500D||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|Nikon D5100||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|Olympus E-M5 II||+ +||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M1||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|Panasonic GH5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Panasonic G6||+ +||..||5/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GH3||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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.
- Canon 350D vs Panasonic GH4
- Canon 550D vs Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon 550D vs Canon M5
- Canon 550D vs Fujifilm X-Pro2
- Canon 550D vs Sony A7R IV
- Canon 550D vs Sony NEX-5
- Canon T7 vs Panasonic GH4
- Leica SL vs Panasonic GH4
- Nikon D4S vs Panasonic GH4
- Olympus E-M1 vs Panasonic GH4
- Panasonic GH4 vs Panasonic GX1
- Panasonic GH4 vs Panasonic GX850
Specifications: Canon 550D vs Panasonic GH4
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 550D||Panasonic GH4|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||February 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 1,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 550D||Panasonic GH4|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||Venus IX|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||23.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||12.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||791|
|Screen Specs||Canon 550D||Panasonic GH4|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1036k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 550D||Panasonic GH4|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/8000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 550D||Panasonic GH4|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 550D||Panasonic GH4|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||500 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
133 x 93 x 84 mm
(5.2 x 3.7 x 3.3 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||560 g (19.8 oz)|
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