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Panasonic GH5s versus Sony A6500

The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2018 and October 2016. Both the GH5s and the A6500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GH5s) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 9.9 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 GH5s vs Sony A6500

The physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH5s and the Sony A6500 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the GH5s – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Panasonic GH5s vs Sony A6500
Compare GH5s versus A6500 top
Compare GH5s and A6500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6500 is considerably smaller (41 percent) than the Panasonic GH5s. Moreover, the A6500 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the GH5s. 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 (GH5s) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6500). 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 GH5s gets 440 shots out of its DMW-BLF19 battery, while the A6500 can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 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 GH5s» 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 660 g 440 Y Jan 2018 2,499 i i Panasonic GH5s
Sony A6500« 120 mm 67 mm 53 mm 453 g 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Olympus E-M1 II« » 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« » 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic G9« » 137 mm 97 mm 92 mm 658 g 400 Y Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 725 g 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« » 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic FZ330« » 132 mm 92 mm 117 mm 691 g 380 Y Jul 2015 599 i i Panasonic FZ330
Panasonic GH4« » 133 mm 93 mm 84 mm 560 g 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH3« » 133 mm 93 mm 82 mm 550 g 540 Y Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
Sony A9« » 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
Sony A7R III« » 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A6300« » 120 mm 67 mm 49 mm 404 g 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7S II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 627 g 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony A7« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 A6500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 44 percent) than the GH5s, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 GH5s vs Sony A6500

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 GH5s features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A6500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A6500 is 63 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the GH5s has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A6500 offers a 3:2 aspect.

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

Panasonic GH5s and Sony A6500 sensor measures

With 24MP, the A6500 offers a higher resolution than the GH5s (9.9MP), but the A6500 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.77μm for the GH5s). It is noteworthy in this context that the GH5s is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the A6500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GH5s has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

GH5s versus A6500 MP

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"). 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
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Panasonic GH5s» Four Thirds 9.9 3680 27004K/60p----Panasonic GH5s
Sony A6500« APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585Sony A6500
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic G9« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p----Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8
Panasonic FZ330« » 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30004K/30p19.311.09738Panasonic FZ330
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH3« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p22.712.481271Panasonic GH3
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792Sony A9
Sony A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100Sony A7R III
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785Sony A6300
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385Sony A7S II
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 GH5s provides a higher frame rate than the A6500. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Sony is limited to 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Panasonic GH5s vs Sony A6500

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the GH5s offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (3680k vs 2300k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic GH5s and Sony A6500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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 GH5s»3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n n Panasonic GH5s
Sony A6500«2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y Sony A6500
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic G9« »3680 Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 20.0 n Y Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n Y Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8
Panasonic FZ330« »1440 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ330
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH3« »1746 n 3.0 614 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Panasonic GH3
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y Sony A9
Sony A7R III« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Sony A7R III
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6300
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7S II
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the GH5s features an electronic shutter, which makes silent shooting and higher burst speeds possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

Both the GH5s and the A6500 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The A6500 replaced the earlier Sony A6300, while the GH5s does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Panasonic GH5s vs Sony A6500

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic GH5s or the Sony A6500 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/60p versus 4K/30p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3680k vs 2300k 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 922k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 3 months after the A6500).

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6500:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 9.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 58%.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 139x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 207g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (44 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2016).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GH5s emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 8 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 when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

GH5s 10:08 A6500

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the GH5s or the A6500 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. 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 GH5s»-84/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2018 2,499 i i Panasonic GH5s
Sony A6500«HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic G9« »HiRec85/1005/5-5/5 Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Panasonic FZ330« »HiRec-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jul 2015 599 i i Panasonic FZ330
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH3« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,299- i Panasonic GH3
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
Sony A7R III« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7S II« »Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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