Panasonic LX5 vs Sony A7R III
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and the Sony Alpha A7R III are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2010 and October 2017. The LX5 is a fixed lens compact, while the A7R III is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (LX5) and a full frame (A7R III) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 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-LX5 and the Sony Alpha A7R III? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic LX5 and the Sony A7R III is provided 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The LX5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the A7R III 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 A7R III is considerably larger (71 percent) than the Panasonic LX5. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7R III is splash and dust-proof, while the LX5 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the LX5 has a lens built in, whereas the A7R III is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the A7R III and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the LX5 gets 400 shots out of its DMW-BCJ13 battery, while the A7R III can take 650 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The power pack in the A7R III can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Panasonic LX5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Jul 2010||499|
|2.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|3.||Canon G12||112 mm||76 mm||48 mm||401 g||370||n||Sep 2010||499|
|4.||Fujifilm X10||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||350 g||270||n||Sep 2011||599|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Sep 2010||699|
|6.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|7.||Olympus XZ-1||111 mm||65 mm||42 mm||275 g||320||n||Jan 2011||499|
|8.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|9.||Panasonic FZ200||125 mm||87 mm||110 mm||588 g||540||n||Jul 2012||599|
|10.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|11.||Panasonic FZ150||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||528 g||410||n||Aug 2011||499|
|12.||Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|13.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|14.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|15.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|16.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|17.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The LX5 was launched at a lower price than the A7R III, despite having a lens built in. 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 LX5 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Sony A7R III a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R III is 1774 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.4 and 1.0. The sensor in the LX5 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A7R III offers a 3:2 aspect. The LX5 has the particularity of featuring a switch that allows to toggle between multiple aspect ratios, while maintaining the same field of view and full image resolution.
With 42.2MP, the A7R III offers a higher resolution than the LX5 (10MP), but the A7R III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 2.14μm for the LX5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7R III is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 3 months) than the LX5, 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 the A7R III has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7R III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7R III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inches or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inches or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inches or 67.3 x 44.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic LX5 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A7R III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the LX5, the A7R III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 80-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7R III are ISO 100 to ISO 32000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.
For many 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 A7R III offers substantially better image quality than the LX5 (overall score 59 points higher). The advantage is based on 6.4 bits higher color depth, 3.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 4.7 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.
| DXO |
|2.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 5||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|12.||Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|13.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|14.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|16.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|17.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A7R III provides a better video resolution than the LX5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Panasonic is limited to 720/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7R III has an electronic viewfinder (3686k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the LX5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the LX5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic LX5 and Sony A7R III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 5||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The LX5 has one, while the A7R III does not. While the built-in flash of the LX5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
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 A7R III 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 Sony A7R III 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 LX5 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7R III uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A7R III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the LX5 only has one slot. The A7R III supports UHS-II cards on its first slot and UHS-I on its second one, while the LX5 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-LX5 and Sony Alpha A7R III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 5||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7R III offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the LX5 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A7R III (unlike the LX5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the LX5 and the A7R III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The LX5 was replaced by the Panasonic LX7, while the A7R III was followed by the Sony A7R IV. 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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic LX5 and the Sony A7R III? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Flexible image proportions: Has a multi-aspect sensor that allows for alternative image shapes.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the A7R III requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x65mm vs 127x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the A7R III).
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2010).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7R III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 110%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (59 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (6.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (4.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/60p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident 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.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II and UHS-I) SDXC cards.
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 3 months of technical progress since the LX5 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R III is the clear winner of the contest (31 : 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 LX5 and the Sony A7R III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the LX5 and the A7R III 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Panasonic LX5||4/5||+||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|2.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|3.||Canon G12||4/5||+||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||499|
|4.||Fujifilm X10||..||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2010||699|
|6.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|7.||Olympus XZ-1||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||499|
|8.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|9.||Panasonic FZ200||3/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|10.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|11.||Panasonic FZ150||3/5||+ +||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499|
|12.||Panasonic GF3||3/5||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|13.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|14.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|15.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|16.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|17.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring 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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, 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.
Specifications: Panasonic LX5 vs Sony A7R III
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 LX5||Sony A7R III|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-90mm f/2.0-3.3||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2010||October 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 3,199|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic LX5||Sony A7R III|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.85 x 5.89 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||46.2365 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.8 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||42.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||7952 x 5304 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.14 μm||4.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||21.59 MP/cm2||4.90 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||720/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 32,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||80 - 12,800 ISO||50 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus FHD||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||41||100|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||19.6||26.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||14.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||132||3523|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic LX5||Sony A7R III|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3686k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic LX5||Sony A7R III|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic LX5||Sony A7R III|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Panasonic LX5||Sony A7R III|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||650 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
110 x 65 x 43 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
127 x 96 x 74 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||271 g (9.6 oz)||650 g (22.9 oz)|
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