Panasonic GH4 vs Sony ZV-1
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 and the Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2014 and May 2020. The GH4 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the ZV-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (GH4) and an one-inch (ZV-1) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 20 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-GH4 and the Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1? 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 GH4 and the Sony ZV-1. 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 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 ZV-1 is considerably smaller (49 percent) than the Panasonic GH4. It is worth mentioning in this context that the GH4 is splash and dust resistant, while the ZV-1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZV-1 has a lens built in, whereas the GH4 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 GH4 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the GH4 gets 500 shots out of its DMW-BLF19 battery, while the ZV-1 can take 260 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the ZV-1 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 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 GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499|
|2.||Sony ZV-1||105 mm||60 mm||44 mm||294 g||260||n||May 2020||799|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||111 mm||61 mm||46 mm||340 g||230||n||Jul 2019||899|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||105 mm||61 mm||41 mm||304 g||235||n||Jul 2019||749|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|6.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|7.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|8.||Panasonic G80||128 mm||89 mm||74 mm||505 g||330||Y||Sep 2016||899|
|9.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|10.||Panasonic GM5||99 mm||60 mm||36 mm||211 g||220||n||Sep 2014||749|
|11.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|12.||Panasonic GM1||99 mm||55 mm||30 mm||204 g||230||n||Oct 2013||749|
|13.||Panasonic GH3||133 mm||93 mm||82 mm||550 g||540||Y||Sep 2012||1,299|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||302 g||260||n||Jul 2019||1,199|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||n||May 2014||799|
|16.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||102 mm||58 mm||38 mm||281 g||350||n||Jun 2013||749|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The ZV-1 was launched at a lower price than the GH4, despite having a lens built in. 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic GH4 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony ZV-1 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the ZV-1 is 48 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 2.7. The sensor in the GH4 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the ZV-1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the ZV-1 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 15.9 MP of the GH4. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.41μm versus 3.76μm for the GH4). However, it should be noted that the ZV-1 is much more recent (by 6 years and 3 months) than the GH4, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Sony ZV-1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the ZV-1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GH4 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1 are ISO 125 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|6.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|7.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|8.||Panasonic G80||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|9.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|10.||Panasonic GM5||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.1||11.7||721||66|
|11.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|12.||Panasonic GM1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||22.3||11.7||660||66|
|13.||Panasonic GH3||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.7||12.4||812||71|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||21.8||12.4||418||63|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
|16.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67|
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
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), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the ZV-1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic GH4 and Sony ZV-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||Y||1/2000s||90.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||1440||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||optional||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The GH4 has one, while the ZV-1 does not. While the built-in flash of the GH4 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
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, both cameras under consideration feature an 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 Panasonic GH4 and the Sony ZV-1 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The GH4 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the ZV-1 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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-GH4 and Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Panasonic GH4 (unlike the ZV-1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The ZV-1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the GH4 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the GH4 was succeeded by the Panasonic GH5. 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 GH4 better than the Sony ZV-1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4:
- 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 (1036k vs 922k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 260) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2014).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot ZV-1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (24 vs 12 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the GH4 necessitates an extra lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (105x60mm vs 133x93mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the GH4).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 3 months of technical progress since the GH4 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (10 points each). 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 when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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 GH4 and the Sony ZV-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the GH4 or the ZV-1 perform in practice. 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 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], 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 GH4||5/5||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499|
|2.||Sony ZV-1||4/5||..||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||May 2020||799|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||4/5||+||82/100||..||4/5||Jul 2019||899|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark III||..||+ +||81/100||4/5||..||Jul 2019||749|
|5.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|6.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|7.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|8.||Panasonic G80||..||+ +||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||899|
|9.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|10.||Panasonic GM5||3.5/5||+||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||749|
|11.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|12.||Panasonic GM1||3/5||+||78/100||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||749|
|13.||Panasonic GH3||5/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,299|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||5/5||Jul 2019||1,199|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799|
|16.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|17.||Sony RX100 II||5/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||749|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. 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
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Panasonic GH4 vs Sony ZV-1
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 GH4||Sony ZV-1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||24-70mm f/1.8-2.8|
|Launch Date||February 2014||May 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 1,499||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GH4||Sony ZV-1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.76 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.08 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||125 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus IX||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||74||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.2||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.8||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||791||..|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GH4||Sony ZV-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1036k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GH4||Sony ZV-1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||12 shutter flaps/s||24 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic GH4||Sony ZV-1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Panasonic GH4||Sony ZV-1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||260 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
133 x 93 x 84 mm
(5.2 x 3.7 x 3.3 in)
105 x 60 x 44 mm
(4.1 x 2.4 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||560 g (19.8 oz)||294 g (10.4 oz)|
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