Panasonic GF6 vs Sony A900
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 and the Sony Alpha A900 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2013 and September 2008. The GF6 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A900 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (GF6) and a full frame (A900) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 15.8 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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-GF6 and the Sony Alpha A900? 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 GF6 and the Sony A900. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GF6 can be obtained in four different colors (black, brown, red, white), while the A900 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 A900 is considerably larger (153 percent) than the Panasonic GF6. Moreover, the A900 is substantially heavier (177 percent) than the GF6. It is noteworthy in this context that the A900 is splash and dust-proof, while the GF6 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Panasonic GF6||111 mm||65 mm||38 mm||323 g||340||n||Apr 2013||499|
|2.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|3.||Panasonic GX850||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||269 g||210||n||Jan 2017||549|
|4.||Panasonic GF7||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||266 g||230||n||Jan 2015||499|
|5.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|6.||Panasonic G5||120 mm||83 mm||71 mm||396 g||320||n||Jul 2012||599|
|7.||Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|8.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|9.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|10.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|11.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|12.||Panasonic G1||124 mm||84 mm||45 mm||360 g||410||n||Sep 2008||599|
|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 A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|16.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|17.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||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 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 GF6 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 83 percent) than the A900, 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. 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 GF6 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A900 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A900 is 283 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 GF6 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A900 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24.4MP, the A900 offers a higher resolution than the GF6 (15.8MP), but the A900 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.77μm for the GF6) due to its larger sensor. However, the GF6 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 7 months) than the A900, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A900 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A900 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GF6 are 23 x 17.2 inches or 58.3 x 43.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.7 x 35 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 11.5 inches or 38.9 x 29.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 160-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A900 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 A900 offers substantially better image quality than the GF6 (overall score 25 points higher). The advantage is based on 3 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.2 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 GF6||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||20.7||10.6||622||54|
|2.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
|3.||Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73|
|4.||Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|6.||Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|8.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|9.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|10.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|11.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|12.||Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53|
|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|
|15.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|16.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|17.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The GF6 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A900 does not. The highest resolution format that the GF6 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A900 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF6 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic GF6 and Sony A900 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|14.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|15.||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 GF6 has one, while the A900 does not. While the built-in flash of the GF6 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The GF6 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the A900 does not have a selfie-screen.
The GF6 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A900 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A900 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the GF6 only has one slot.
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-GF6 and Sony Alpha A900 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|14.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the GF6 offers wifi support, while the A900 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A900 (unlike the GF6) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the GF6 and the A900 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A900 was replaced by the Sony A99, while the GF6 was followed by the Panasonic GF7. 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 GF6 and the Sony A900? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6:
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60i movies.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x65mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 572g or 64 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (83 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the A900 launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A900:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 15.8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 27%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (25 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 340) out of a single battery charge.
- 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.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2008).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A900 emerges as the winner of the match-up (16 : 13 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 GF6 and the Sony A900 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the GF6 and the A900 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 GF6||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|2.||Sony A900||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|3.||Panasonic GX850||..||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||549|
|4.||Panasonic GF7||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||499|
|5.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|6.||Panasonic G5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|7.||Panasonic GF5||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|8.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|9.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|10.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|11.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|12.||Panasonic G1||..||+ +||70/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2008||599|
|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 A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|16.||Sony A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|17.||Sony A850||3/5||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, 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
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Specifications: Panasonic GF6 vs Sony A900
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 GF6||Sony A900|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2013||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 2,999|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GF6||Sony A900|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.8 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4592 x 3448 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.77 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.04 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||160 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus FHD||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||54||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.7||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.6||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||622||1431|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GF6||Sony A900|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GF6||Sony A900|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4.2 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or MS cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic GF6||Sony A900|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Panasonic GF6||Sony A900|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||340 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
111 x 65 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||323 g (11.4 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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