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Panasonic GX80 versus Sony A6500

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80 (called Panasonic GX85 in some regions) and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2016 and October 2016. Both the GX80 and the A6500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (GX80) and an APS-C sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 15.8 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Panasonic GX80 and the Sony A6500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size 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 GX80 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Panasonic GX80 vs Sony A6500 front
GX80 versus A6500 top view
GX80 and A6500 rear side
Body view (GX80 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6500 is somewhat smaller (7 percent) than the Panasonic GX80. However, the A6500 is slightly heavier (6 percent) than the GX80. It is noteworthy in this context that the A6500 is splash and dust-proof, while the GX80 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 (GX80) 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.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Panasonic GX80 (⇒ rgt) 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 15.0 oz 290 no 2016 799 latest check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft) 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 YES 2016 1,399 latest check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 YES 2015 1,199 latest check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 YES 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 YES 2016 999discont. check
Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.0 in 37.1 oz 420 YES 2016 1,499discont. check
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 400 YES 2015 1,299discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GX80 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 43 percent) than the A6500, 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

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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic GX80 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 GX80 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A6500 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Panasonic GX80 and Sony A6500 sensor measures
Sensor size

With 24MP, the A6500 offers a higher resolution than the GX80 (15.8MP), but the A6500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 3.77μm for the GX80) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A6500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the GX80, 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 GX80 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

GX80 versus A6500 MP
Sensor resolution

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A6500 offers substantially better image quality than the GX80 (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Panasonic GX80 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 15.8 4592 3448 4K/30p 22.9 12.6 662 71
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.5 13.7 1405 85
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.5 12.6 806 75
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.9 13.3 3517 92
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.4 13.7 1437 85
Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 23.1 12.6 472 70
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 23.0 12.6 531 70

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

Feature comparison

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 GX80 offers a higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (2765k vs 2300k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic GX80 and Sony A6500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Panasonic GX80 (⇒ rgt) 2765 no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.0 6 YES
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 11.0 6 YES
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 20.0 no YES
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 14.0 10.8 no
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 3200 14.0 10.2 no

Both the GX80 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 GX80 replaced the earlier Panasonic GX7, while the A6500 followed on from the Sony A6300.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic GX80 and the Panasonic GX80? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has a higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2765k vs 2300k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (43 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2016).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6500:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (350 versus 290) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (6 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 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.

GX80 05:10 A6500

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the GX80 or the A6500. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Panasonic GX80 (⇒ rgt) HiRec 82/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2016 799 latest check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft) HiRec 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,399 latest check
Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 1,199 latest check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) .. 89/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 85/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 999discont. check
Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 84/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,499discont. check
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2015 1,299discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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 comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, 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 do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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