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Panasonic GM5 versus Sony A7R II

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 and the Sony Alpha A7R II are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2014 and June 2015. Both the GM5 and the A7R II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GM5) and a full frame (A7R II) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 15.8 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 GM5 vs Sony A7R II

The physical size and weight of the Panasonic GM5 and the Sony A7R II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 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 GM5 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Panasonic GM5 vs Sony A7R II
Compare GM5 versus A7R II top
Compare GM5 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 considerably larger (105 percent) than the Panasonic GM5. Moreover, the A7R II is substantially heavier (196 percent) than the GM5. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7R II is splash and dust-proof, while the GM5 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. 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 (GM5) 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 GM5 gets 220 shots out of its DMW-BLH7 battery, while the A7R II can take 290 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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 GM5» 99 mm 60 mm 36 mm 211 g 220 n Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
Sony A7R II« 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Olympus E-M10 II« » 120 mm 83 mm 47 mm 390 g 320 n Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M10« » 119 mm 82 mm 46 mm 396 g 320 n Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
Panasonic G7« » 125 mm 86 mm 77 mm 410 g 350 n May 2015 649- i Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« » 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« » 133 mm 93 mm 84 mm 560 g 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Panasonic LX100« » 115 mm 66 mm 55 mm 393 g 300 n Sep 2014 899 i i Panasonic LX100
Panasonic G6« » 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« » 99 mm 55 mm 30 mm 204 g 230 n Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
Ricoh GR II« » 117 mm 63 mm 35 mm 251 g 320 n Jun 2015 699 i i Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« » 117 mm 61 mm 35 mm 245 g 290 n Apr 2013 799- i Ricoh GR
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

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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 GM5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 77 percent) than the A7R II, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Panasonic GM5 vs Sony A7R II

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 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. 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 GM5 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 GM5 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A7R II offers a 3:2 aspect.

Panasonic GM5 and Sony A7R II sensor measures

With 42.2MP, the A7R II offers a higher resolution than the GM5 (15.8MP), but the A7R II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 3.77μm for the GM5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7R II is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the GM5, 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 A7R II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The A7R II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in relatively fast and reliable autofocus acquisition during video recording.

GM5 versus A7R II MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 A7R II offers substantially better image quality than the GM5 (overall score 32 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.9 bits higher color depth, 2.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.3 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
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Panasonic GM5» Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.111.772166Panasonic GM5
Sony A7R II« Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498Sony A7R II
Olympus E-M10 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M10« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472Olympus E-M10
Panasonic G7« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p----Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174Panasonic GH4
Panasonic LX100« » Four Thirds 12.7 4112 30884K/30p22.312.555367Panasonic LX100
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066Panasonic GM1
Ricoh GR II« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278Ricoh GR
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 A7R II provides a better video resolution than the GM5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Panasonic is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Panasonic GM5 vs Sony A7R II

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 A7R II offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the GM5 (2400k vs 1166k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic GM5, the Sony A7R II, 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
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 GM5»1166 n 3.0 921 fixed Y 500 5.8 n n Panasonic GM5
Sony A7R II«2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7R II
Olympus E-M10 II« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M10« »1440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10
Panasonic G7« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n Panasonic GH4
Panasonic LX100« »2764 n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 11.0 n Y Panasonic LX100
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
Ricoh GR II« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR
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 GM5 has a touchscreen, while the A7R 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 GM5 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 GM5 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7R II uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

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 GM5»Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic GM5
Sony A7R II«YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R II
Olympus E-M10 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M10« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10
Panasonic G7« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Panasonic GH4
Panasonic LX100« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Panasonic LX100
Panasonic G6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic GM1
Ricoh GR II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« »Ymonomono--micro2.0---Ricoh GR
Sony A7R III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7R III
Sony A99 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A99 II
Sony A7S II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S II
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II
Sony A7R« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R

Both the GM5 and the A7R II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A7R II was replaced by the Sony Alpha A7R III, while the GM5 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Panasonic GM5 vs Sony A7R II

So how do things add up? Is the Panasonic GM5 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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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.8 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (99x60mm vs 127x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 414g or 66 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (77 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2014).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 15.8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 66%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (32 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.9 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Better video autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident movie autofocus.
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2400k vs 1166k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 921k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 500/sec) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (290 versus 220) 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.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7R II is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 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.

GM5 08:19 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 GM5 and the A7R II in practical situations. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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 GM5»Rec77/1005/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
Sony A7R II«HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Olympus E-M10 II« »HiRec80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M10« »-80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
Panasonic G7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/54.5/5 May 2015 649- i Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Panasonic LX100« »HiRec85/1005/54/55/5 Sep 2014 899 i i Panasonic LX100
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
Ricoh GR II« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699 i i Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799- i Ricoh GR
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 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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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