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Nikon 1 J4 vs Panasonic GF5

The Nikon 1 J4 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2014 and April 2012. Both the J4 and the GF5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an one-inch (J4) and a Four Thirds (GF5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 18.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon 1 J4 versus Panasonic GF5
Nikon 1 J4 Panasonic GF5
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Nikon 1 mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
18.2 MP, 1" Sensor 12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/60p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 160-12,800 ISO 160-6,400 (160 - 12,800)
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 1037k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
no rear screen Fixed touchscreen
60 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
300 shots per battery charge360 shots per battery charge
100 x 60 x 29 mm, 232 g 108 x 67 x 37 mm, 267 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon 1 J4 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5? 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon 1 J4 and the Panasonic GF5 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The J4 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, orange, white), while the GF5 is available in three color-versions (black, red, white).

Size Nikon 1 J4 vs Panasonic GF5
Compare J4 versus GF5 top
Comparison J4 or GF5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF5 is notably larger (21 percent) than the Nikon 1 J4. Moreover, the GF5 is markedly heavier (15 percent) than the J4. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the J4 nor the GF5 are weather-sealed.

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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

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

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon 1 J4 100 mm 60 mm 29 mm 232 g 300 n Apr 2014 549i
 
Panasonic GF5 108 mm 67 mm 37 mm 267 g 360 n Apr 2012 499i
 
Canon G9 X 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529i
 
Canon 100D 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
 
Canon 700D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
 
Nikon P900 140 mm 103 mm 137 mm 899 g 360 n Mar 2015 599i
 
Nikon 1 J5 98 mm 60 mm 32 mm 231 g 250 n Apr 2015 399i
 
Nikon 1 V3 111 mm 65 mm 33 mm 381 g 310 n Mar 2014 799i
 
Panasonic GF7 107 mm 65 mm 33 mm 266 g 230 n Jan 2015 499i
 
Panasonic G6 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 n Apr 2013 599i
 
Panasonic GF6 111 mm 65 mm 38 mm 323 g 340 n Apr 2013 499i
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499i
 
Panasonic GF3 108 mm 67 mm 32 mm 264 g 300 n Jun 2011 549i
 
Panasonic GF2 113 mm 68 mm 33 mm 310 g 300 n Nov 2010 549i
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499i
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 naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The GF5 was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the J4 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.

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. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon 1 J4 features an one-inch sensor and the Panasonic GF5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF5 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 J4 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GF5 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Nikon 1 J4 and Panasonic GF5 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon 1 J4 offers a higher resolution of 18.2 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the Panasonic GF5. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.52μm versus 4.33μm for the GF5). However, it should be noted that the J4 is much more recent (by 2 years) than the GF5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the J4 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon 1 J4 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the J4 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 26.2 x 17.4 inches or 66.4 x 44.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.9 x 14 inches or 53.2 x 35.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.4 x 11.6 inches or 44.3 x 29.5 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GF5 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.

The J4 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Nikon 1 J4 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 160-12800.

J4 versus GF5 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 GF5 has a markedly higher DXO score than the J4 (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon 1 J4 1-inch 18.2 5232 34881080/60p20.810.742653
 
Panasonic GF5 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.411.661861
 
Canon G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
 
Canon 100D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
 
Nikon P900 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
 
Nikon 1 J5 1-inch 20.7 5568 37124K/15p21.112.047965
 
Nikon 1 V3 1-inch 18.2 5232 34881080/60p20.810.738452
 
Panasonic GF7 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p........
 
Panasonic G6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961
 
Panasonic GF6 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.714750
 
Panasonic GF3 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.045849
 
Panasonic GF2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the J4 provides a higher frame rate than the GF5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Panasonic is limited to 1080/60i.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The J4 and the GF5 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon 1 J4 and Panasonic GF5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Nikon 1 J4none n 3.0 1037 Fixed Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Panasonic GF5none n 3.0 920 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Canon G9 Xnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0 Y Y
 
Canon 100Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
 
Canon 700Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon P900921 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 7.0 Y Y
 
Nikon 1 J5none n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Nikon 1 V3optional n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Panasonic GF7none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/500s 5.8 Y n
 
Panasonic G61440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
 
Panasonic GF6none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n
 
Panasonic LX7optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
 
Panasonic GF3none n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.2 Y n
 
Panasonic GF2optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n

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 J4 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 J4 writes its imaging data to micro SDXC cards, while the GF5 uses SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

Connectivity comparison

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 Nikon 1 J4 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Nikon 1 J4-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Panasonic GF5-stereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon G9 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon 100DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 700DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon P900-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Nikon 1 J5-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Nikon 1 V3-stereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Panasonic GF7-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Panasonic G6YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Panasonic GF6-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Panasonic GF3-stereomono--mini2.0---
 
Panasonic GF2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereomono--micro2.0---

It is notable that the J4 offers wifi support, while the GF5 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the J4 and the GF5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF5 was replaced by the Panasonic GF6, while the J4 was followed by the Nikon 1 J5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon 1 J4 or the Panasonic GF5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Nikon 1 J4:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (18.2 vs 12MP) with a 26% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 920k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (60 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (100x60mm vs 108x67mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 35g or 13 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the GF5 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (360 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in April 2012).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the J4 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 6 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 before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

J4 11:06 GF5

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon 1 J4 and the Panasonic GF5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the J4 or the GF5 perform in practice. 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon 1 J4....4.5/5..4/5 Apr 2014 549i
 
Panasonic GF5....4.5/54/54.5/5 Apr 2012 499i
 
Canon G9 X+ +..4.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529i
 
Canon 100D+78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
 
Canon 700D..76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
 
Nikon P900..77/1004/54.5/54/5 Mar 2015 599i
 
Nikon 1 J5....4.5/54/54.5/5 Apr 2015 399i
 
Nikon 1 V3..76/1004.5/53/54/5 Mar 2014 799i
 
Panasonic GF7+..4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2015 499i
 
Panasonic G6+ +..5/5..4.5/5 Apr 2013 599i
 
Panasonic GF6+ +..4.5/5..4.5/5 Apr 2013 499i
 
Panasonic LX7+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499i
 
Panasonic GF382/10071/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549i
 
Panasonic GF282/10070/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549i
 
Sony NEX-3N....4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, 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.

Nikon 1 J4:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic GF5:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

~

    Specifications: Nikon 1 J4 vs Panasonic GF5

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon 1 J4 Panasonic GF5
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon 1 mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date April 2014 April 2012
    Launch Price USD 549 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Nikon 1 J4 Panasonic GF5
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format 1" Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 13.2 x 8.8 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 116.16 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 15.9 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.7x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 18.2 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5232 x 3488 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 2.52 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 15.71 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 160 - 12,800 ISO 160 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 160 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor Expeed 4 Venus FHD
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 53 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.8 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.7 11.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 426 618
    Screen Specs Nikon 1 J4 Panasonic GF5
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1037k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Nikon 1 J4 Panasonic GF5
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 60 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Electronic Shutterup to 1/16000sno E-Shutter
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium micro or SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Nikon 1 J4 Panasonic GF5
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon 1 J4 Panasonic GF5
    Battery Type EN-EL22 DMW-BLE9
    Battery Life (CIPA)300 shots per charge360 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 100 x 60 x 29 mm
    (3.9 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
    108 x 67 x 37 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 232 g (8.2 oz) 267 g (9.4 oz)

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