Panasonic FZ80 vs Sony A7R III
The Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 (called Panasonic FZ82 in some regions) and the Sony Alpha A7R III are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2017 and October 2017. The FZ80 is a fixed lens compact, while the A7R III is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (FZ80) and a full frame (A7R III) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 18 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 and the Sony Alpha A7R III? 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 Panasonic FZ80 and the Sony A7R III. 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 width, height and depth 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 FZ80 and the Sony A7R III are of equal size. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7R III is splash and dust-proof, while the FZ80 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the FZ80 has a lens built in, whereas the A7R III is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the A7R III and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the FZ80 gets 330 shots out of its DMW-BMB9 battery, while the A7R III can take 650 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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.||Panasonic FZ80||130 mm||94 mm||119 mm||616 g||330||n||Jan 2017||399|
|2.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|3.||Canon SX740||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||265||n||Jul 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SX70||127 mm||91 mm||117 mm||608 g||325||n||Sep 2018||549|
|5.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|6.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|7.||Panasonic ZS80||112 mm||69 mm||42 mm||327 g||380||n||Feb 2019||449|
|8.||Panasonic TS7||117 mm||76 mm||37 mm||319 g||300||Y||May 2018||449|
|9.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|10.||Sony HX99||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||449|
|11.||Sony HX95||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||429|
|12.||Sony WX800||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||233 g||370||n||Oct 2018||399|
|13.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony HX350||130 mm||93 mm||103 mm||652 g||300||n||Dec 2016||449|
|16.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|17.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 FZ80 was launched at a lower price than the A7R III, despite having a lens built 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.
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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic FZ80 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony A7R III a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R III is 2979 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the FZ80 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A7R III offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 42.2MP, the A7R III offers a higher resolution than the FZ80 (18MP), but the A7R III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 1.25μm for the FZ80) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7R III is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the FZ80, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7R III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7R III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inches or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inches or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inches or 67.3 x 44.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic FZ80 are 24.5 x 18.4 inches or 62.2 x 46.6 cm for good quality, 19.6 x 14.7 inches or 49.7 x 37.3 cm for very good quality, and 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A7R III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the FZ80, the A7R III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images 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).
The Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 80-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7R III are ISO 100 to ISO 32000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.
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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|2.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|6.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|13.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|16.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|17.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A7R III offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the FZ80 (3686k vs 1166k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic FZ80, the Sony A7R III, and comparable cameras.
|2.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The FZ80 has one, while the A7R III does not. While the built-in flash of the FZ80 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
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, both cameras under consideration feature an 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 Sony A7R III 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.
The FZ80 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7R III uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A7R III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the FZ80 only has one slot. The A7R III supports UHS-II cards (on its first slot), while the FZ80 can use UHS-I 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 and Sony Alpha A7R III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7R III has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The FZ80 does not feature such a mic input.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A7R III (unlike the FZ80) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The FZ80 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the A7R III has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R III was succeeded by the Sony A7R IV. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Panasonic FZ80 better than the Sony A7R III or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80:
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the A7R III requires a separate lens.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the A7R III).
- 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 built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2017).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 18MP), which boosts linear resolution by 56%.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3686k vs 1166k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.46x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 1040k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (9 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R III is the clear winner of the contest (25 : 5 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 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 Panasonic FZ80 and the Sony A7R III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the FZ80 or the A7R III 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.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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.||Panasonic FZ80||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||399|
|2.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|3.||Canon SX740||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SX70||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Sep 2018||549|
|5.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|6.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|7.||Panasonic ZS80||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||..||Feb 2019||449|
|8.||Panasonic TS7||..||+||..||..||3.5/5||May 2018||449|
|9.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|10.||Sony HX99||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||449|
|11.||Sony HX95||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2018||429|
|12.||Sony WX800||..||..||..||..||..||Oct 2018||399|
|13.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony HX350||..||..||..||..||4/5||Dec 2016||449|
|16.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|17.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Panasonic FZ80 vs Sony A7R III
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||Panasonic FZ80||Sony A7R III|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||20-1200mm f/2.8-5.9||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2017||October 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 3,199|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic FZ80||Sony A7R III|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||18 Megapixels||42.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4896 x 3672 pixels||7952 x 5304 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.25 μm||4.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||64.04 MP/cm2||4.90 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 32,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||80 - 6,400 ISO||50 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||100|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||26.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3523|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic FZ80||Sony A7R III|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1166k dots||3686k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic FZ80||Sony A7R III|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic FZ80||Sony A7R III|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Panasonic FZ80||Sony A7R III|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||650 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
130 x 94 x 119 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 4.7 in)
127 x 96 x 74 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||616 g (21.7 oz)||650 g (22.9 oz)|
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