Nikon D4S vs Panasonic GH5
The Nikon D4S and the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2014 and January 2017. The D4S is a DSLR, while the GH5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (D4S) and a Four Thirds (GH5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 20.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D4S and the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D4S and the Panasonic GH5. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH5 is considerably smaller (46 percent) than the Nikon D4S. Moreover, the GH5 is substantially lighter (46 percent) than the D4S. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D4S) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GH5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GH5, 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.
Concerning battery life, the D4S gets 3020 shots out of its EN-EL18a battery, while the GH5 can take 410 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLF19 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D4S has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the GH5, Panasonic provides the DMW-BGGH5 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|2.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|3.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|4.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|5.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|7.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|8.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|9.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|10.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|11.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|12.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|13.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|14.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|15.||Panasonic G9||137 mm||97 mm||92 mm||658 g||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699|
|16.||Panasonic G85||128 mm||89 mm||74 mm||505 g||330||Y||Sep 2016||899|
|17.||Panasonic GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The GH5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 69 percent) than the D4S, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D4S features a full frame sensor and the Panasonic GH5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GH5 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the D4S has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GH5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the GH5 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 16.2 MP of the D4S. 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 3.34μm versus 7.29μm for the D4S). However, it should be noted that the GH5 is much more recent (by 2 years and 10 months) than the D4S, 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 GH5 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic GH5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GH5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D4S are 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.7 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.3 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D4S has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-409600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
For many 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 review, the D4S provides substantially higher image quality than the GH5, with an overall score that is 12 points higher. This advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.9 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|2.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|3.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|4.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|7.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|8.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|9.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|10.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|11.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|12.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|13.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|14.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|15.||Panasonic G9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Panasonic G85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|17.||Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
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 GH5 provides a better video resolution than the D4S. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/60p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the GH5 has an electronic viewfinder (3680k dots), while the D4S 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the GH5 has a higher magnification than the one of the D4S (0.76x vs 0.70x), 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 Nikon D4S and Panasonic GH5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|14.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the D4S, but is missing on the GH5 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The GH5 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 D4S 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 GH5 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 Nikon D4S and the Panasonic GH5 both have 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.
The D4S writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the GH5 uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
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 D4S and Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the GH5 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D4S does not provide wifi capability.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The GH5 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the D4S has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D4S was succeeded by the Nikon D5. 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D4S and the Panasonic GH5? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D4S:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.9 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (3020 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2014).
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 16.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/60p).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.76x vs 0.70x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 921k 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x98mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 625g or 46 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (69 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 10 months of technical progress since the D4S launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH5 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 8 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 Nikon D4S and the Panasonic GH5 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 D4S and the GH5 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|2.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|3.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|4.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|5.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|7.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|8.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|9.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|10.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|11.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|12.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|13.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|14.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|15.||Panasonic G9||..||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699|
|16.||Panasonic G85||..||+ +||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||899|
|17.||Panasonic GH4||5/5||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499|
|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. 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. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D4S vs Panasonic GH5
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||Nikon D4S||Panasonic GH5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2014||January 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 6,499||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D4S||Panasonic GH5|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.2 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3280 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.29 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.88 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 409,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||Venus 10|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||89||77|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.4||23.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.3||13.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3074||807|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D4S||Panasonic GH5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3680k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||1620k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D4S||Panasonic GH5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||400 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XQD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D4S||Panasonic GH5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||full HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D4S||Panasonic GH5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||3020 shots per charge||410 shots per charge|
160 x 157 x 91 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
139 x 98 x 87 mm
(5.5 x 3.9 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||1350 g (47.6 oz)||725 g (25.6 oz)|
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