Panasonic GM5 vs Sony NEX-5N
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5N are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2014 and August 2011. Both the GM5 and the NEX-5N are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GM5) and an APS-C (NEX-5N) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 15.8 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Panasonic GM5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|15.8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||16 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 200-25600||ISO 100-25600|
|Electronic viewfinder (1166k dots)||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0" LCD, 921k dots||3.0" LCD, 920k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Tilting touchscreen|
|5.8 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|220 shots per battery charge||460 shots per battery charge|
|99 x 60 x 36 mm, 211 g||111 x 59 x 38 mm, 269 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5N? 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 GM5 and the Sony NEX-5N. 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.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5N is notably larger (10 percent) than the Panasonic GM5. Moreover, the NEX-5N is markedly heavier (27 percent) than the GM5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GM5 nor the NEX-5N are weather-sealed.
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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GM5) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-5N). 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.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.
|Panasonic GM5»||3.9 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||7.4 oz||220||n||Sep 2014||749||Panasonic GM5|
|Sony NEX-5N«||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699||Sony NEX-5N|
|Panasonic GX85« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||15.0 oz||290||n||Apr 2016||799||Panasonic GX85|
|Panasonic G7« »||4.9 in||3.4 in||3.0 in||14.5 oz||350||n||May 2015||649||Panasonic G7|
|Panasonic GH4« »||5.2 in||3.7 in||3.3 in||19.8 oz||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499||Panasonic GH4|
|Panasonic LX100« »||4.5 in||2.6 in||2.2 in||13.9 oz||300||n||Sep 2014||899||Panasonic LX100|
|Panasonic G6« »||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||13.8 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||599||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic GM1« »||3.9 in||2.2 in||1.2 in||7.2 oz||230||n||Oct 2013||749||Panasonic GM1|
|Panasonic GX1« »||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||11.2 oz||320||n||Nov 2011||699||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic GH2« »||4.9 in||3.5 in||3.0 in||15.6 oz||330||n||Sep 2010||899||Panasonic GH2|
|Ricoh GR II« »||4.6 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||8.9 oz||320||n||Jun 2015||699||Ricoh GR II|
|Ricoh GR« »||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||8.6 oz||290||n||Apr 2013||799||Ricoh GR|
|Sony NEX-5R« »||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.7 oz||330||n||Aug 2012||749||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||11.1 oz||470||n||May 2012||599||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-C3« »||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||7.9 oz||400||n||Jun 2011||599||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-3« »||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5« »||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||10.1 oz||330||n||May 2010||699||Sony NEX-5|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 NEX-5N was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the GM5 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.
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 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 GM5 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-5N an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5N is 62 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 GM5 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-5N offers a 3:2 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 16MP, the NEX-5N offers a higher resolution than the GM5 (15.8MP), but the NEX-5N nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 3.77μm for the GM5) due to its larger sensor. However, the GM5 is a much more recent model (by 3 years) than the NEX-5N, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 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 Alpha NEX-5N are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 NEX-5N offers substantially better image quality than the GM5 (overall score 11 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 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.
|Panasonic GM5||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.1||11.7||721||66||Panasonic GM5|
|Sony NEX-5N||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||23.6||12.7||1079||77||Sony NEX-5N|
|Panasonic GX85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71||Panasonic GX85|
|Panasonic G7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic G7|
|Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74||Panasonic GH4|
|Panasonic LX100||Four Thirds||12.7||4112||3088||4K/30p||22.3||12.5||553||67||Panasonic LX100|
|Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic GM1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||22.3||11.7||660||66||Panasonic GM1|
|Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60||Panasonic GH2|
|Ricoh GR II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.6||13.7||1078||80||Ricoh GR II|
|Ricoh GR||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.6||13.5||972||78||Ricoh GR|
|Sony NEX-5R||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||23.7||13.1||910||78||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.7||12.3||1114||73||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-C3||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||720/30p||22.7||12.2||1083||73||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-3||APS-C||14.0||4592||3056||720/30p||22.1||12.0||830||68||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5||APS-C||14.0||4592||3056||1080/60i||22.2||12.2||796||69||Sony NEX-5|
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 GM5 provides a higher frame rate than the NEX-5N. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the GM5 has an electronic viewfinder (1166k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5N relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5N can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1S. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic GM5, the Sony NEX-5N, and comparable cameras.
|Panasonic GM5||1166||n||3.0||921||fixed||Y||1/500s||5.8||n||n||Panasonic GM5|
|Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5N|
|Panasonic GX85||2765||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y||Panasonic GX85|
|Panasonic G7||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0||Y||n||Panasonic G7|
|Panasonic GH4||2359||n||3.0||1036||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0||Y||n||Panasonic GH4|
|Panasonic LX100||2764||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y||Panasonic LX100|
|Panasonic G6||1440||n||3.0||1036||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0||Y||n||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic GM1||none||n||3.0||1036||fixed||Y||1/500s||5.0||Y||n||Panasonic GM1|
|Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic GH2||1534||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic GH2|
|Ricoh GR II||optional||n||3.0||1230||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Ricoh GR II|
|Ricoh GR||optional||n||3.0||1230||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Ricoh GR|
|Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||Y||n||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-C3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-5|
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, the GM5 is one of those camera that have an additional 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 GM5 has 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 GM5 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The GM5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5N cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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-GM5 and Sony Alpha NEX-5N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Panasonic GM5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic GM5|
|Sony NEX-5N||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-5N|
|Panasonic GX85||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic GX85|
|Panasonic G7||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic G7|
|Panasonic GH4||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic GH4|
|Panasonic LX100||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic LX100|
|Panasonic G6||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic G6|
|Panasonic GM1||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic GM1|
|Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic GH2||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GH2|
|Ricoh GR II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Ricoh GR II|
|Ricoh GR||Y||mono||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Ricoh GR|
|Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony NEX-C3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-C3|
|Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3|
|Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-5|
It is notable that the GM5 offers wifi support, while the NEX-5N does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the GM5 and the NEX-5N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-5N was replaced by the Sony NEX-5R, while the GM5 does not have a direct successor. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic GM5 or the Sony NEX-5N – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 58g or 22 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the NEX-5N launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-5N:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/500s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5.8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (460 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2011).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5N emerges as the winner of the match-up (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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 GM5 and the Sony NEX-5N place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the GM5 or the NEX-5N. 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 summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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.
- Canon T2i vs Panasonic GM5
- Nikon D2H vs Sony NEX-5N
- Nikon D3100 vs Panasonic GM5
- Nikon D3X vs Sony NEX-5N
- Nikon D5000 vs Panasonic GM5
- Nikon D5500 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Olympus E-M1 vs Panasonic GM5
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Sony NEX-5N
- Panasonic GM5 vs Panasonic LX5
- Panasonic GM5 vs Sony ZV-1
- Ricoh GR III vs Sony NEX-5N
- Ricoh WG-60 vs Sony NEX-5N
Specifications: Panasonic GM5 vs Sony NEX-5N
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 GM5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2014||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GM5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.8 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4592 x 3448 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.77 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.04 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200-25600 ISO||100-25600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-25600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||77|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||12.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||721||1079|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GM5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1166k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GM5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||No Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||5.8 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board 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||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic GM5||Sony NEX-5N|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Panasonic GM5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||220 shots per charge||460 shots per charge|
99 x 60 x 36 mm
(3.9 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||211 g (7.4 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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