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Panasonic GH5s versus Sony A7R II

The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s and the Sony Alpha A7R II are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2018 and June 2015. Both the GH5s and the A7R II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GH5s) and a full frame (A7R II) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 9.9 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 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 A7R II

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH5s and the Sony A7R II. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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 A7R II
Compare GH5s versus A7R II top
Compare GH5s and A7R II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7R II is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Panasonic GH5s. Moreover, the A7R II is markedly lighter (5 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 FE Lens Catalog (A7R II). 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 A7R II can take 290 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 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 camera comparisons 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 A7R II« 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Canon R« » 139 mm 98 mm 84 mm 660 g 370 Y Sep 2018 2,299 i i Canon R
Canon 6D Mark II« » 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
Leica X-U Typ 113« » 140 mm 79 mm 88 mm 635 g 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950 i i Leica X-U Typ 113
Nikon D7500« » 136 mm 104 mm 73 mm 720 g 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
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 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 A7R III« » 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A99 II« » 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
Sony A7S II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 627 g 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony A7 II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7R« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 465 g 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GH5s was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 22 percent) than the A7R 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Panasonic GH5s vs Sony A7R II

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 GH5s features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A7R II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R II 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 GH5s has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A7R II offers a 3:2 aspect.

Panasonic GH5s and Sony A7R II sensor measures

With 42.2MP, the A7R II offers a higher resolution than the GH5s (9.9MP), but the A7R II has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 4.77μm for the GH5s). Yet, the GH5s is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 7 months) than the A7R II, and its sensor will 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

GH5s versus A7R II MP

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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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 A7R II« Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498Sony A7R II
Canon R« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p----Canon R
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285Canon 6D Mark II
Leica X-U Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica X-U Typ 113
Nikon D7500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386Nikon D7500
Panasonic G9« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p----Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777Panasonic GH5
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 A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100Sony A7R III
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792Sony A99 II
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385Sony A7S II
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the GH5s provides a higher frame rate than the A7R II. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Sony is limited to 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Panasonic GH5s vs Sony A7R II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range 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 A7R II (3680k vs 2400k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic GH5s and Sony A7R II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. 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 GH5s»3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n n Panasonic GH5s
Sony A7R II«2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7R II
Canon R« »3690 n 3.2 2100 swivel Y 8000 8.0 n n Canon R
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n Canon 6D Mark II
Leica X-U Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X-U Typ 113
Nikon D7500« »optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 8000 8.0 Y n Nikon D7500
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 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 A7R III« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Sony A7R III
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y Sony A99 II
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7S II
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GH5s has a touchscreen, while the A7R II has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point or for making menu selections.

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 completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

The GH5s is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A7R II has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R II was succeeded by the Sony Alpha A7R III.

Review summary: Panasonic GH5s vs Sony A7R II

So how do things add up? Is the Panasonic GH5s better than the Sony A7R II or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/60p versus 4K/30p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3680k vs 2400k 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 1229k dots).
  • 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 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (22 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 7 months of technical progress since the A7R II launch.

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Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7R II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 9.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 109%.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 139x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2015).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GH5s is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 4 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.

GH5s 11:04 A7R 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 GH5s and the A7R 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). You can find the full text of the reviews 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 A7R II«HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Canon R« »----- Sep 2018 2,299 i i Canon R
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
Leica X-U Typ 113« »----3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950 i i Leica X-U Typ 113
Nikon D7500« »HiRec86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
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 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 A7R III« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
Sony A7S II« »Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R

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. 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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