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Panasonic GH1 versus Panasonic GH5

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2009 and January 2017. Both the GH1 and the GH5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The GH1 has a resolution of 12 megapixel, whereas the GH5 provides 20.2 MP.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH1 and the Panasonic GH5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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 GH1 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Panasonic GH1 vs Panasonic GH5 front
GH1 versus GH5 top view
GH1 and GH5 rear side
Body view (GH1 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH5 is notably larger (22 percent) than the Panasonic GH1. Moreover, the GH5 is substantially heavier (88 percent) than the GH1. It is noteworthy in this context that the GH5 is splash and dust-proof, while the GH1 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. 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 GH1 gets 300 shots out of its DMW-BLB13 battery, while the GH5 can take 410 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLF19 power pack.

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, 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 comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Panasonic GH1 (⇒ rgt) 124 mm 90 mm 45 mm 385 g 300 no 2009 1,499discont. check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft) 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 725 g 410 YES 2017 1,999 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 no 2009 799discont. check
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 no 2009 499discont. check
Panasonic G9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 137 mm 97 mm 92 mm 658 g 400 YES 2017 1,699 latest check
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 128 mm 89 mm 74 mm 505 g 330 YES 2016 899 latest check
Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 93 mm 84 mm 560 g 500 YES 2014 1,499discont. check
Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 no 2011 599discont. check
Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 116 mm 68 mm 39 mm 318 g 320 no 2011 949discont. check
Panasonic GF2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 113 mm 68 mm 33 mm 310 g 300 no 2010 549discont. check
Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 90 mm 76 mm 442 g 330 no 2010 1,499discont. check
Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 no 2010 599discont. check
Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 no 2010 499discont. check
Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 119 mm 71 mm 36 mm 385 g 380 no 2009 749discont. check
Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 84 mm 45 mm 360 g 410 no 2008 599discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GH1 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the GH5, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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

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 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Panasonic GH1 and Panasonic GH5 sensor measures
Sensor size

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the GH5 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixel, compared with 12 MP of the GH1. This megapixel advantage translates into a 30 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the GH5 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 4.33μm for the GH1). However, it should be noted that the GH5 is much more recent (by 7 years and 10 months) than the GH1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GH5 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

GH1 versus GH5 MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 GH5 offers substantially better image quality than the GH1 (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Panasonic GH1 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000 1080/24p 21.6 11.6 772 64
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/60p 23.9 13.0 807 77
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.7 5568 3712 4K/30p 24.0 14.0 1324 83
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.7 12.8 1312 80
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 720/30p 21.5 10.4 505 56
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.5 10.5 512 56
Panasonic G9 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/60p - - - -
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 4K/30p 22.8 12.5 656 71
Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 4K/30p 23.2 12.8 791 74
Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 1080/60i 21 10.6 667 56
Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 1080/60p 20.8 10.6 703 55
Panasonic GF2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000 1080/60i 21.2 10.3 506 54
Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60i 21.2 11.3 655 60
Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000 720/30p 21.2 10.3 493 53
Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000 720/30p 21.2 10.1 411 52
Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000 720/30p 21.2 10.3 513 54
Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000 no 21.1 10.3 463 53

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GH5 provides a better video resolution than the GH1. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/60p, while the GH1 is limited to 1080/24p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the GH5 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the GH1 (3680k vs 1440k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic GH1, the Panasonic GH5, 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 Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Panasonic GH1 (⇒ rgt) 1440 no 3.0 460 swivel no 4000 3.0 10.5 no
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft) 3680 no 3.2 1620 swivel YES 8000 12.0 no YES
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 2359 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no no
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 18.0 no YES
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 no YES
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 no
Panasonic G9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 20.0 no YES
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 9.0 6.2 YES
Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1036 swivel YES 8000 12.0 17 no
Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 460 swivel YES 4000 4.0 11 no
Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 460 fixed YES 4000 4.2 7.6 no
Panasonic GF2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 460 fixed YES 4000 2.6 6.0 no
Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1534 no 3.0 460 swivel no 4000 3.0 15.6 no
Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 460 swivel YES 4000 2.6 11 no
Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 202 no 3.0 460 fixed no 4000 2.6 11 no
Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 460 fixed no 4000 3.0 6.0 no
Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 460 swivel no 4001 3.0 10.5 no

The GH5 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the GH1 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the GH1 was succeeded by the Panasonic GH2 .

Summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic GH1 or the Panasonic GH5 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x90mm vs 139x98mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 340g or 47 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 segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2009).

Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 30%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/24p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3680k vs 1440k dots).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 460k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (410 versus 300) 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.
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 10 months of technical progress since the GH1 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH5 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 6 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.

GH1 06:16 GH5

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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the GH1 or the GH5. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Panasonic GH1 (⇒ rgt) 89/100 HiRec 72/100 HiRec 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 1,499discont. check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 1,999 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 91/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 83/100 Rec 69/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2009 799discont. check
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4/5 2009 499discont. check
Panasonic G9 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Silver 5/5 .. 5/5 2017 1,699 latest check
Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 899 latest check
Panasonic GH4 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 1,499discont. check
Panasonic G3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 75/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2011 599discont. check
Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2011 949discont. check
Panasonic GF2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 82/100 70/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2010 549discont. check
Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 86/100 HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2010 1,499discont. check
Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 72/100 Silver 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2010 599discont. check
Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 70/100 4/5 - 4/5 2010 499discont. check
Panasonic GF1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 69/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2009 749discont. check
Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 70/100 HiRec 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2008 599discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted 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 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 comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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 contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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