Panasonic GX1 vs Sony NEX-5
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2011 and May 2010. Both the GX1 and the NEX-5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GX1) and an APS-C (NEX-5) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 15.8 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 14 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-GX1 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5? 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 GX1 and the Sony NEX-5. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the GX1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5 is notably smaller (17 percent) than the Panasonic GX1. Moreover, the NEX-5 is markedly lighter (10 percent) than the GX1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GX1 nor the NEX-5 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 (GX1) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-5). 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 GX1||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||11.2 oz||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-5||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||10.1 oz||330||n||May 2010||699|
|Panasonic G6||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||13.8 oz||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GM1||3.9 in||2.2 in||1.2 in||7.2 oz||230||n||Oct 2013||749|
|Panasonic G5||4.7 in||3.3 in||2.8 in||14.0 oz||320||n||Jul 2012||599|
|Panasonic GF5||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||9.4 oz||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic G3||4.5 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||11.9 oz||270||n||May 2011||599|
|Panasonic GF3||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic G2||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||15.1 oz||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|Panasonic GH2||4.9 in||3.5 in||3.0 in||15.6 oz||330||n||Sep 2010||899|
|Panasonic GF1||4.7 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||13.6 oz||380||n||Sep 2009||749|
|Sony NEX-5R||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.7 oz||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony NEX-F3||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||11.1 oz||470||n||May 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||7.9 oz||400||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Sony NEX-3||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic GX1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-5 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5 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 GX1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-5 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Panasonic GX1 offers a higher resolution of 15.8 megapixels, compared with 14 MP of the Sony NEX-5. 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 3.77μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-5). However, it should be noted that the GX1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the NEX-5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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-5 offers substantially better image quality than the GX1 (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 1.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|Panasonic GM1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||22.3||11.7||660||66|
|Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|Panasonic GF1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GX1 provides a higher frame rate than the NEX-5. 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 range of features. The GX1 and the NEX-5 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. However, optional viewfinders – the DMW-LVF2 for the GX1 and the FDA-SV1 for the NEX-5 – are available as accessories. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic GX1 and Sony NEX-5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The GX1 has one, while the NEX-5 does not. While the built-in flash of the GX1 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The NEX-5 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the GX1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The GX1 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The GX1 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5 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-GX1 and Sony Alpha NEX-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
Both the GX1 and the NEX-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-5 was replaced by the Sony NEX-5N, while the GX1 was followed by the Panasonic GX7. 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 GX1 better than the Sony NEX-5 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 5 months after the NEX-5).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-5:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.6 EV of extra DR).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
- 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 burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 116x68mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2010).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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 GX1 and the Sony NEX-5 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 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 GX1 or the NEX-5 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
|Panasonic GX1||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Panasonic G6||+ +||..||5/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|Panasonic GM1||+||78/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||749|
|Panasonic G5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|Panasonic GF5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|Panasonic G3||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|Panasonic GF3||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic G2||..||72/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|Panasonic GH2||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||899|
|Panasonic GF1||85/100||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||749|
|Sony NEX-5R||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony NEX-F3||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Sony NEX-3||..||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 200D vs Sony NEX-5
- Canon RP vs Sony NEX-5
- Canon SX420 vs Panasonic GX1
- Canon XC10 vs Sony NEX-5
- Hasselblad X1D vs Panasonic GX1
- Nikon Z7 vs Panasonic GX1
- Panasonic GX1 vs Pentax K-3 II
- Panasonic GX1 vs Sony A6300
- Panasonic GX1 vs Sony H200
- Panasonic LF1 vs Sony NEX-5
- Pentax Q vs Sony NEX-5
- Sony H400 vs Sony NEX-5
Specifications: Panasonic GX1 vs Sony NEX-5
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 GX1||Sony NEX-5|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2011||May 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic GX1||Sony NEX-5|
|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||14 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4592 x 3448 pixels||4592 x 3056 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.77 μm||5.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.04 MP/cm2||3.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus FHD||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||55||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.8||22.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.6||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||703||796|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic GX1||Sony NEX-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic GX1||Sony NEX-5|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.2 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|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||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic GX1||Sony NEX-5|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Panasonic GX1||Sony NEX-5|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||320 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
116 x 68 x 39 mm
(4.6 x 2.7 x 1.5 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||318 g (11.2 oz)||287 g (10.1 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.