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Panasonic GH4 versus Canon 7D II

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2014 and September 2014. The GH4 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the 7D Mark II is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (GH4) and an APS-C (7D Mark II) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 15.9 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 20 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Panasonic GH4 vs Canon 7D II

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH4 and the Canon 7D II is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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 use the toggle button 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 GH4 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Panasonic GH4 vs Canon 7D II
Compare GH4 versus 7D Mark II top
Compare GH4 and 7D Mark II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 7D II is notably larger (35 percent) than the Panasonic GH4. Moreover, the 7D Mark II is substantially heavier (63 percent) than the GH4. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GH4) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (7D Mark II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Panasonic GH4, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the GH4 gets 500 shots out of its DMW-BLF19 battery, while the 7D Mark II can take 670 images on a single charge of its LP-E6N power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH4» 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Canon 7D II« 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon T6i« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749- i Canon T6i
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon SL1« » 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon T5i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Olympus E-M5 II« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Panasonic GH5« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic G85« » 5.0 in 3.5 in 2.9 in 17.8 oz 330 Y Sep 2016 899 i i Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GM5« » 3.9 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 7.4 oz 220 n Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
Panasonic G6« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« » 3.9 in 2.2 in 1.2 in 7.2 oz 230 n Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH3« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.2 in 19.4 oz 540 Y Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The GH4 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the 7D Mark II, 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: Panasonic GH4 vs Canon 7D II

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 GH4 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Canon 7D II an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the 7D Mark II is 49 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.6. The sensor in the GH4 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the 7D Mark II offers a 3:2 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Panasonic GH4 and Canon 7D II sensor measures

With 20MP, the 7D Mark II offers a higher resolution than the GH4 (15.9MP), but the 7D Mark II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.10μm versus 3.76μm for the GH4) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the 7D Mark II is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the GH4, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The 7D Mark II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in relatively fast and reliable autofocus acquisition during video recording.

GH4 versus 7D Mark II MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 review, the GH4 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 7D Mark II (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, 0.5 stops of reduced 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH4» Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174Panasonic GH4
Canon 7D II« APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Canon T6i« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p22.712.091971Canon T6i
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
Canon SL1« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363Canon SL1
Canon T5i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon T5i
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466Canon 7D
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773Olympus E-M1
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777Panasonic GH5
Panasonic G85« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.812.565671Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GM5« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.111.772166Panasonic GM5
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH3« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p22.712.481271Panasonic GH3
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890Sony A7

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 GH4 provides a higher video resolution than the 7D Mark II. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Panasonic GH4 vs Canon 7D II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the GH4 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the 7D Mark II has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic GH4 and Canon 7D II along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH4»2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n Panasonic GH4
Canon 7D II«optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Canon T6i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T6i
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
Canon SL1« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n Canon SL1
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T5i
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Canon 7D
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »2360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M1
Panasonic GH5« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n Y Panasonic GH5
Panasonic G85« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 9.0 Y Y Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GM5« »1166 n 3.0 921 fixed Y 500 5.8 n n Panasonic GM5
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »- n 3.0 1036 fixed Y 500 5.0 Y n Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH3« »1746 n 3.0 614 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Panasonic GH3
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GH4 has a touchscreen, while the 7D Mark II has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the GH4 features an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

The GH4 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the 7D Mark II uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The 7D Mark II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the GH4 only has one slot.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH4»YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Panasonic GH4
Canon 7D II«YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 7D II
Canon T6i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon T6i
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
Canon SL1« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon SL1
Canon T5i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T5i
Canon 7D« »Ymono-Y-mini2.0---Canon 7D
Olympus E-M5 II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M1
Panasonic GH5« »YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic GH5
Panasonic G85« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX8« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GM5« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic GM5
Panasonic G6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH3« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Panasonic GH3
Sony A7« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7

The 7D Mark II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the GH4 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the GH4 was succeeded by the Panasonic GH5.

Review summary: Panasonic GH4 vs Canon 7D II

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Panasonic GH4 better than the Canon 7D II or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (133x93mm vs 149x112mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 350g or 38 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build 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 segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2014).

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident movie autofocus.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (670 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (7 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH4 is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 9 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

GH4 15:09 7D Mark II

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the GH4 and the 7D Mark II in practical situations. 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH4»HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Canon 7D II«Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon T6i« »-75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749- i Canon T6i
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon SL1« »Rec78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon T5i« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Panasonic GH5« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic G85« »HiRec84/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 899 i i Panasonic G85
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic GM5« »Rec77/1005/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
Panasonic G6« »HiRec-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »Rec78/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GH3« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7

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. 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. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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