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Panasonic G3 versus Sony A6500

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2011 and October 2016. Both the G3 and the A6500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (G3) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 15.8 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24 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: Panasonic G3 vs Sony A6500

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic G3 and the Sony A6500 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 dimensions 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 G3 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Panasonic G3 vs Sony A6500
Compare G3 versus A6500 top
Compare G3 and A6500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6500 is notably smaller (17 percent) than the Panasonic G3. However, the A6500 is substantially heavier (35 percent) than the G3. It is noteworthy in this context that the A6500 is splash and dust-proof, while the G3 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (G3) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6500). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the G3 gets 270 shots out of its DMW-BLD10 battery, while the A6500 can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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
Panasonic G3» 4.5 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 11.9 oz 270 n May 2011 599- i Panasonic G3
Sony A6500« 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Fujifilm X-Pro2« » 5.6 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Jan 2016 1,699 i i Fujifilm X-Pro2
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
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic G6« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GF6« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 11.4 oz 340 n Apr 2013 499- i Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G5« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 14.0 oz 320 n Jul 2012 599- i Panasonic G5
Panasonic GF3« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 9.3 oz 300 n Jun 2011 549- i Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GX1« » 4.6 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 11.2 oz 320 n Nov 2011 949- i Panasonic GX1
Panasonic G10« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 13.7 oz 380 n Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
Panasonic G2« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 15.1 oz 360 n Mar 2010 599- i Panasonic G2
Panasonic GF2« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 10.9 oz 300 n Nov 2010 549- i Panasonic GF2
Panasonic GH2« » 4.9 in 3.5 in 3.0 in 15.6 oz 330 n Sep 2010 1,499- i Panasonic GH2
Panasonic G1« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 12.7 oz 410 n Sep 2008 599- i Panasonic G1
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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 G3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 57 percent) than the A6500, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Panasonic G3 vs Sony A6500

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic G3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A6500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A6500 is 63 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the G3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A6500 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Panasonic G3 and Sony A6500 sensor measures

With 24MP, the A6500 offers a higher resolution than the G3 (15.8MP), but the A6500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 3.77μm for the G3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A6500 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 4 months) than the G3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

G3 versus A6500 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 A6500 offers substantially better image quality than the G3 (overall score 29 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.5 bits higher color depth, 3.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 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
Panasonic G3» Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756Panasonic G3
Sony A6500« APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585Sony A6500
Fujifilm X-Pro2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Fujifilm X-Pro2
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6
Panasonic GF6« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p----Panasonic G5
Panasonic GF3« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.045849Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GX1« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p20.810.670355Panasonic GX1
Panasonic G10« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152Panasonic G10
Panasonic G2« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353Panasonic G2
Panasonic GF2« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654Panasonic GF2
Panasonic GH2« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i21.211.365560Panasonic GH2
Panasonic G1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000-21.110.346353Panasonic G1
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785Sony A6300
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890Sony A7

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 A6500 provides a better video resolution than the G3. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Panasonic is limited to 1080/60i.

 

Feature comparison: Panasonic G3 vs Sony A6500

Beyond 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 A6500 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the G3 (2300k vs 1440k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic G3, the Sony A6500, 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
Panasonic G3»1440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 4000 4.0 Y n Panasonic G3
Sony A6500«2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y Sony A6500
Fujifilm X-Pro2« »2360 n 3.0 1620 fixed n 8000 8.0 n n Fujifilm X-Pro2
Olympus PEN-F« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G6
Panasonic GF6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.2 Y n Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G5« »1440 n 3.0 920 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Panasonic G5
Panasonic GF3« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 4000 3.2 Y n Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GX1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 4000 4.2 Y n Panasonic GX1
Panasonic G10« »202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 2.6 Y n Panasonic G10
Panasonic G2« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 4000 2.6 Y n Panasonic G2
Panasonic GF2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 4000 2.6 Y n Panasonic GF2
Panasonic GH2« »1534 n 3.0 460 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic GH2
Panasonic G1« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 4001 3.0 Y n Panasonic G1
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6300
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7

One feature that differentiates the A6500 and the G3 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A6500 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the G3 has to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.

The G3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A6500 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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
Panasonic G3»Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic G3
Sony A6500«YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6500
Fujifilm X-Pro2« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Fujifilm X-Pro2
Olympus PEN-F« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic GX8« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX8
Panasonic G6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Panasonic G6
Panasonic GF6« »-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G5« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic G5
Panasonic GF3« »-stereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GX1« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GX1
Panasonic G10« »Ymono---mini2.0---Panasonic G10
Panasonic G2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic G2
Panasonic GF2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF2
Panasonic GH2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GH2
Panasonic G1« »Y----mini2.0---Panasonic G1
Sony A6300« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6300
Sony A7« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7

The A6500 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the G3 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the G3 was succeeded by the Panasonic G5.

Review summary: Panasonic G3 vs Sony A6500

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic G3 or the Sony A6500 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3:

  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 117g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in May 2011).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6500:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (29 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2300k vs 1440k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 460k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 115x84mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (350 versus 270) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 4 months of technical progress since the G3 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 4 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.

G3 04:17 A6500

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 G3 and the A6500 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 expert reviews are important. 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
Panasonic G3»HiRec75/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2011 599- i Panasonic G3
Sony A6500«HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Fujifilm X-Pro2« »Rec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2016 1,699 i i Fujifilm X-Pro2
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic G6« »HiRec-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GF6« »HiRec-4.5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 499- i Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G5« »HiRec-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jul 2012 599- i Panasonic G5
Panasonic GF3« »82/10071/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549- i Panasonic GF3
Panasonic GX1« »Rec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2011 949- i Panasonic GX1
Panasonic G10« »-70/1004/5-4/5 Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
Panasonic G2« »-72/1004/54/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599- i Panasonic G2
Panasonic GF2« »82/10070/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549- i Panasonic GF2
Panasonic GH2« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i Panasonic GH2
Panasonic G1« »HiRec70/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2008 599- i Panasonic G1
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7

The review scores listed above should be treated 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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