Panasonic LX7 vs Sony A850
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2012 and August 2009. The LX7 is a fixed lens compact, while the A850 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (LX7) and a full frame (A850) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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-LX7 and the Sony Alpha A850? 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 LX7 and the Sony A850 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The LX7 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the A850 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 A850 is considerably larger (142 percent) than the Panasonic LX7. It is noteworthy in this context that the A850 is splash and dust-proof, while the LX7 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the LX7 has a lens built in, whereas the A850 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Fujifilm X20||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||353 g||270||n||Jan 2013||599||ebay.com|
|6.||Fujifilm X10||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||350 g||270||n||Sep 2011||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299||ebay.com|
|8.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Panasonic FZ200||125 mm||87 mm||110 mm||588 g||540||n||Jul 2012||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic LX5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Jul 2010||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|16.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 LX7 was launched at a lower price than the A850, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic LX7 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Sony A850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A850 is 1952 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.65 and 1.0. The sensor in the LX7 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A850 offers a 3:2 aspect. The LX7 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 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the LX7 (10MP), but the A850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 2.05μm for the LX7) due to its larger sensor. However, the LX7 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 10 months) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic LX7 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 80-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 A850 offers substantially better image quality than the LX7 (overall score 29 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.1 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 3.3 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.
|2.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|7.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|10.||Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.5||10.0||573||50|
|11.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|12.||Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.1||459||50|
|14.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|15.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|16.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|17.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The LX7 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the LX7 can use is 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A850 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the LX7 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the LX7 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic LX7 and Sony A850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Panasonic LX7||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G15||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Fujifilm X20||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Fujifilm X10||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Panasonic LF1||200||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Panasonic FZ200||1312||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Panasonic GF5||none||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Panasonic GF3||none||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2/s||Y||n|
|13.||Panasonic LX5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7C||2360||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A900||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The LX7 has one, while the A850 does not. While the built-in flash of the LX7 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Panasonic LX7 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 LX7 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the LX7 only has one slot.
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-LX7 and Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Panasonic LX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A850||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Canon G15||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Fujifilm X20||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Fujifilm X10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Panasonic LF1||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Panasonic FZ200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Panasonic GF5||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Panasonic G3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic GF3||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic LX5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony A7C||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony A900||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A850 (unlike the LX7) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the LX7 and the A850 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The LX7 was replaced by the Panasonic LX10, while the A850 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the LX7 and A850 can be found, respectively, in the Panasonic LX7 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony A850 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic LX7 or the Sony A850 – 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-LX7:
- Flexible image proportions: Has a multi-aspect sensor that allows for alternative image shapes.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the A850 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x68mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the A850).
- 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 modern: Reflects 2 years and 10 months of technical progress since the A850 launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 59%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (29 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.1 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (3.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- 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.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A850 emerges as the winner of the match-up (13 : 10 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 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 LX7 and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the LX7 and the A850 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 LX7||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A850||3/5||..||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon G15||4/5||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Fujifilm X20||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2013||599||ebay.com|
|6.||Fujifilm X10||..||..||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299||ebay.com|
|8.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Panasonic FZ200||3/5||+ +||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Panasonic GF5||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic GF3||3/5||82/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic LX5||4/5||+||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||4.5/5||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|16.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony A900||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 400D vs Sony A850
- Canon R6 vs Panasonic LX7
- Fujifilm X20 vs Panasonic LX7
- Leica D-LUX Typ 109 vs Sony A850
- Leica Q2 vs Sony A850
- Nikon 1 V3 vs Sony A850
- Nikon D40X vs Sony A850
- Nikon D4S vs Panasonic LX7
- Nikon D70s vs Panasonic LX7
- Olympus E-PL8 vs Sony A850
- Panasonic LF1 vs Panasonic LX7
- Panasonic LX7 vs Sony RX10
Specifications: Panasonic LX7 vs Sony A850
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 LX7||Sony A850|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-90mm f/1.4-2.3||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2012||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic LX7||Sony A850|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.44 x 5.58 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||41.5152 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.3 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.05 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||24.04 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||80 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||50||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.7||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||147||1415|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic LX7||Sony A850|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic LX7||Sony A850|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or MS cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic LX7||Sony A850|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Panasonic LX7||Sony A850|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
111 x 68 x 46 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.8 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||298 g (10.5 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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