Panasonic GF1 vs Sony NEX-7
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2009 and August 2011. Both the GF1 and the NEX-7 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GF1) and an APS-C (NEX-7) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Panasonic GF1||Sony NEX-7|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||24 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|720/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-3200||ISO 100-16000|
|Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|3.0" LCD, 460k dots||3.0" LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|380 shots per battery charge||430 shots per battery charge|
|119 x 71 x 36 mm, 385 g||120 x 67 x 43 mm, 400 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7? 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 Panasonic GF1 and the Sony NEX-7 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 measures 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 Sony NEX-7 is somewhat smaller (5 percent) than the Panasonic GF1. However, the NEX-7 is slightly heavier (4 percent) than the GF1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GF1 nor the NEX-7 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. 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 Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF1) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-7). 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.
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.
|Panasonic GF1»||4.7 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||13.6 oz||380||n||Sep 2009||749||Panasonic GF1|
|Sony NEX-7«||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||14.1 oz||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349||Sony NEX-7|
|Fujifilm X100« »||5.0 in||3.0 in||2.1 in||15.7 oz||300||n||Sep 2010||1,199||Fujifilm X100|
|Olympus E-P1« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Jun 2009||799||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Nov 2009||799||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic LX100« »||4.5 in||2.6 in||2.2 in||13.9 oz||300||n||Sep 2014||899||Panasonic LX100|
|Panasonic GX1« »||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||11.2 oz||320||n||Nov 2011||699||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic G10« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||13.7 oz||380||n||Mar 2010||499||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||15.1 oz||360||n||Mar 2010||599||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2« »||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic GH2« »||4.9 in||3.5 in||3.0 in||15.6 oz||330||n||Sep 2010||899||Panasonic GH2|
|Panasonic GH1« »||4.9 in||3.5 in||1.8 in||13.6 oz||300||n||Mar 2009||899||Panasonic GH1|
|Panasonic G1« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||12.7 oz||410||n||Sep 2008||599||Panasonic G1|
|Sony A6400« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.0 in||14.2 oz||410||n||Jan 2019||899||Sony A6400|
|Sony A6000« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.8 in||12.1 oz||360||n||Feb 2014||599||Sony A6000|
|Sony A3000« »||5.0 in||3.6 in||3.3 in||14.5 oz||470||n||Aug 2013||329||Sony A3000|
|Sony RX1« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.0 oz||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799||Sony RX1|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 GF1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 44 percent) than the NEX-7, 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 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic GF1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-7 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-7 is 62 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 GF1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-7 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the NEX-7 offers a higher resolution than the GF1 (12MP), but the NEX-7 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 4.33μm for the GF1). Yet, the NEX-7 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the GF1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-7 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inch or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inch or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GF1 are 20 x 15 inch or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inch or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inch or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
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 NEX-7 offers substantially better image quality than the GF1 (overall score 27 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.9 bits higher color depth, 3.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 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.
|Panasonic GF1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54||Panasonic GF1|
|Sony NEX-7||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||24.1||13.4||1016||81||Sony NEX-7|
|Fujifilm X100||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/30p||22.9||12.4||1001||73||Fujifilm X100|
|Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic LX100||Four Thirds||12.7||4112||3088||4K/30p||22.3||12.5||553||67||Panasonic LX100|
|Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60||Panasonic GH2|
|Panasonic GH1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64||Panasonic GH1|
|Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53||Panasonic G1|
|Sony A6400||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24||13.6||1431||83||Sony A6400|
|Sony A6000||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||13.1||1347||82||Sony A6000|
|Sony A3000||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.7||12.8||1068||78||Sony A3000|
|Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93||Sony RX1|
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 NEX-7 provides a better video resolution than the GF1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Panasonic is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the NEX-7 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GF1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic GF1, the Sony NEX-7, and comparable cameras.
|Panasonic GF1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic GF1|
|Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n||Sony NEX-7|
|Fujifilm X100||1440||n||2.8||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Fujifilm X100|
|Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic LX100||2764||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y||Panasonic LX100|
|Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic GH2||1534||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic GH2|
|Panasonic GH1||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic GH1|
|Panasonic G1||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic G1|
|Sony A6400||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n||Sony A6400|
|Sony A6000||1440||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n||Sony A6000|
|Sony A3000||202||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Sony A3000|
|Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0||1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Sony RX1|
The GF1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the NEX-7 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 DMC-GF1 and Sony Alpha NEX-7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Panasonic GF1||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF1|
|Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-7|
|Fujifilm X100||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Fujifilm X100|
|Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic LX100||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic LX100|
|Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic G10||Y||mono||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G10|
|Panasonic G2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G2|
|Panasonic GF2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GF2|
|Panasonic GH2||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GH2|
|Panasonic GH1||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GH1|
|Panasonic G1||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G1|
|Sony A6400||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A6400|
|Sony A6000||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A6000|
|Sony A3000||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A3000|
|Sony RX1||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony RX1|
It is notable that the NEX-7 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The GF1 does not feature such a mic input.
Both the GF1 and the NEX-7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF1 was replaced by the Panasonic DMC-GF2, while the NEX-7 does not have a direct successor. 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 GF1 better than the Sony NEX-7 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1:
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (44 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2009).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-7:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 44%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (27 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.9 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 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (430 versus 380) out of a single battery charge.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 11 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-7 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 2 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 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 Panasonic GF1 and the Sony NEX-7 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the GF1 or the NEX-7. 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 (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.
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 100D vs Panasonic GF1
- Canon 5D vs Sony NEX-7
- Fujifilm X-Pro1 vs Panasonic GF1
- Fujifilm X100V vs Sony NEX-7
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony NEX-7
- Leica M10-P vs Panasonic GF1
- Panasonic GF1 vs Panasonic GF7
- Panasonic GF1 vs Sony A77 II
- Panasonic GF1 vs Sony HX95
- Panasonic GF1 vs Sony RX0
- Panasonic LX100 II vs Sony NEX-7
- Panasonic TZ90 vs Sony NEX-7
Specifications: Panasonic GF1 vs Sony NEX-7
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 GF1||Sony NEX-7|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2009||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 1349|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GF1||Sony NEX-7|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.33 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.34 MP/cm2||6.57 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100-3200 ISO||100-16000 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus HD||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||54||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.2||24.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||513||1016|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GF1||Sony NEX-7|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GF1||Sony NEX-7|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000/s||1/4000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic GF1||Sony NEX-7|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Panasonic GF1||Sony NEX-7|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||380 shots per charge||430 shots per charge|
119 x 71 x 36 mm
(4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
120 x 67 x 43 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||385 g (13.6 oz)||400 g (14.1 oz)|
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