Panasonic GF2 vs Sony A9
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 and the Sony Alpha A9 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2010 and April 2017. Both the GF2 and the A9 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GF2) and a full frame (A9) 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-GF2 and the Sony Alpha A9? 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 physical size and weight of the Panasonic GF2 and the Sony A9 are illustrated 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.
The GF2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the A9 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A9 is considerably larger (59 percent) than the Panasonic GF2. Moreover, the A9 is substantially heavier (117 percent) than the GF2. It is noteworthy in this context that the A9 is splash and dust-proof, while the GF2 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF2) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A9). 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 GF2 gets 300 shots out of its DMW-BLD10 battery, while the A9 can take 650 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The power pack in the A9 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 GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|2.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|3.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|4.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|5.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|6.||Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|7.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|8.||Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|9.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|10.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|11.||Panasonic GF1||119 mm||71 mm||36 mm||385 g||380||n||Sep 2009||749|
|12.||Panasonic G1||124 mm||84 mm||45 mm||360 g||410||n||Sep 2008||599|
|13.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|15.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|16.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|17.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GF2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 88 percent) than the A9, 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic GF2 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A9 is 276 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 GF2 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A9 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the A9 offers a higher resolution than the GF2 (12MP), but the A9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.33μm for the GF2) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A9 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 5 months) than the GF2, 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 A9 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A9 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 GF2 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 A9 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A9 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
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 A9 offers substantially better image quality than the GF2 (overall score 38 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.7 bits higher color depth, 3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.8 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.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|2.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|3.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|4.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|5.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|6.||Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|7.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|8.||Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|9.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|10.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|11.||Panasonic GF1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54|
|12.||Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|14.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|15.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|16.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|17.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A9 provides a better video resolution than the GF2. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Panasonic is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A9 has an electronic viewfinder (3686k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GF2 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 GF2, the Sony A9, and comparable cameras.
|13.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The GF2 has one, while the A9 does not. While the built-in flash of the GF2 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, the A9 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 GF2 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A9 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A9 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the GF2 only has one slot. The A9 supports UHS-II cards on its first slot and UHS-I on its second one, while the GF2 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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-GF2 and Sony Alpha A9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|13.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A9 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the GF2 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A9 (unlike the GF2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the GF2 and the A9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF2 was replaced by the Panasonic GF3, while the A9 was followed by the Sony A9 II. 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 there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GF2 and the Sony A9? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2:
- More compact: Is smaller (113x68mm vs 127x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 363g or 54 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (88 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in November 2010).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A9:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 44%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (38 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.7 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- 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.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 460k 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 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 2.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- 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 Ultra High Speed (UHS-II and UHS-I) SDXC cards.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 5 months of technical progress since the GF2 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A9 is the clear winner of the contest (26 : 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 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 GF2 and the Sony A9 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the GF2 or the A9. 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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 GF2||3/5||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|2.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|3.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|4.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|5.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|6.||Panasonic GF5||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|7.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|8.||Panasonic GF3||3/5||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|9.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|10.||Panasonic G2||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|11.||Panasonic GF1||..||85/100||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||749|
|12.||Panasonic G1||..||+ +||70/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2008||599|
|13.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|15.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|16.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|17.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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.
Specifications: Panasonic GF2 vs Sony A9
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 GF2||Sony A9|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2010||April 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 4,499|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GF2||Sony A9|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.33 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.34 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus FHD||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||54||92|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.2||24.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||506||3517|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GF2||Sony A9|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3686k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GF2||Sony A9|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2.6 shutter flaps/s||20 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-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||no||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic GF2||Sony A9|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Panasonic GF2||Sony A9|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||300 shots per charge||650 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
113 x 68 x 33 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
127 x 96 x 63 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||310 g (10.9 oz)||673 g (23.7 oz)|
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