Panasonic GF1 vs Sony RX1
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2009 and September 2012. The GF1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (GF1) and a full frame (RX1) 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1? 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 RX1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear 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 Sony RX1 is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Panasonic GF1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GF1 nor the RX1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX1 has a lens built in, whereas the GF1 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 GF1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the GF1 gets 380 shots out of its DMW-BLB13 battery, while the RX1 can take 270 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the RX1 can be charged via the USB port, 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. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Panasonic GF1||119 mm||71 mm||36 mm||385 g||380||n||Sep 2009||749|
|2.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
|3.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|4.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|5.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|6.||Panasonic LX100||115 mm||66 mm||55 mm||393 g||300||n||Sep 2014||899|
|7.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|8.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|9.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|10.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|11.||Panasonic GH2||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||n||Sep 2010||899|
|12.||Panasonic GH1||124 mm||90 mm||45 mm||385 g||300||n||Mar 2009||899|
|13.||Panasonic G1||124 mm||84 mm||45 mm||360 g||410||n||Sep 2008||599|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||113 mm||65 mm||72 mm||507 g||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299|
|15.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329|
|16.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 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 RX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the RX1 is 279 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the GF1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the RX1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the RX1 offers a higher resolution than the GF1 (12MP), but the RX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 4.33μm for the GF1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the RX1 is a much more recent model (by 3 years) than the GF1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony RX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GF1 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the RX1 offers substantially better image quality than the GF1 (overall score 39 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.9 bits higher color depth, 4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.3 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.
|1.||Panasonic GF1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54|
|2.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
|4.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|5.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|6.||Panasonic LX100||Four Thirds||12.7||4112||3088||4K/30p||22.3||12.5||553||67|
|7.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|8.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|9.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|10.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|11.||Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|12.||Panasonic GH1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64|
|13.||Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97|
|16.||Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the RX1 provides a better video resolution than the GF1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Panasonic is limited to 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The GF1 and the RX1 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. However, optional viewfinders – the DMW-LVF1 for the GF1 and the FDA-EV1MK for the RX1 – are available as accessories. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic GF1 and Sony RX1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Panasonic GF1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|2.||Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|3.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y|
|6.||Panasonic LX100||2764||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y|
|7.||Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n|
|8.||Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n|
|9.||Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n|
|10.||Panasonic GF2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n|
|11.||Panasonic GH2||1534||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|12.||Panasonic GH1||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|13.||Panasonic G1||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|15.||Sony A3000||202||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|16.||Sony RX1R||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
The GF1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the RX1 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 Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Panasonic GF1||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony RX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Panasonic LX100||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Panasonic G10||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Panasonic G2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Panasonic GF2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Panasonic GH2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic GH1||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic G1||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A3000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony RX1R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the RX1 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 RX1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF1 was replaced by the Panasonic DMC-GF2, while the RX1 was followed by the Sony RX1R. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Is the Panasonic GF1 better than the Sony RX1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1:
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (380 versus 270) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2009).
Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 44%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (39 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.9 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 460k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the GF1 necessitates an extra lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (113x65mm vs 119x71mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the GF1 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the RX1 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 3 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 GF1 and the Sony RX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the GF1 or the RX1. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 GF1||..||85/100||..||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||749|
|2.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|3.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|4.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||..||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|5.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|6.||Panasonic LX100||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||5/5||5/5||Sep 2014||899|
|7.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|8.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|9.||Panasonic G2||..||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|10.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||..||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|11.||Panasonic GH2||5/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||899|
|12.||Panasonic GH1||..||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||899|
|13.||Panasonic G1||..||+ +||..||70/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2008||599|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||5/5||..||..||82/100||..||4.5/5||Oct 2015||3,299|
|15.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329|
|16.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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. 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 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: Panasonic GF1 vs Sony RX1
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 RX1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||35mm f/2.0|
|Launch Date||September 2009||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 2,799|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GF1||Sony RX1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.8 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||852.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.33 μm||5.96 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.34 MP/cm2||2.82 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus HD||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||54||93|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.2||25.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||14.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||513||2534|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GF1||Sony RX1|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GF1||Sony RX1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-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 RX1|
|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 RX1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||380 shots per charge||270 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
119 x 71 x 36 mm
(4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
113 x 65 x 70 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||385 g (13.6 oz)||482 g (17.0 oz)|
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