Sony A7 II versus Panasonic GX8
The Sony Alpha A7 II and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2014 and July 2015. Both the A7 II and the GX8 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7 II) and a Four Thirds (GX8) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 20.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Sony A7 II vs Panasonic GX8
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7 II and the Panasonic GX8. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the A7 II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GX8 is notably smaller (15 percent) than the Sony A7 II. Moreover, the GX8 is markedly lighter (19 percent) than the A7 II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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 Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7 II) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GX8). 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 camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Sony A7 II»||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|Panasonic GX8«||5.2 in||3.1 in||2.5 in||17.2 oz||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||16.5 oz||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Panasonic GX9« »||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.9 in||14.4 oz||260||n||Feb 2018||849|
|Panasonic GH5« »||5.5 in||3.9 in||3.4 in||25.6 oz||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Panasonic GX7« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||2.2 in||14.2 oz||350||n||Aug 2013||999||-|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A9« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A7R III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||-|
|Sony A7S II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony A77 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||22.8 oz||480||Y||May 2014||1,199|
|Sony A7« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699||-|
|Sony A7R« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.4 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299||-|
|Sony A77« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,999||-|
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 GX8 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the A7 II, 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: Sony A7 II vs Panasonic GX8
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 Sony A7 II features a full frame sensor and the Panasonic GX8 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GX8 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the A7 II has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GX8 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the A7 II offers a higher resolution than the GX8 (20.2MP), but the A7 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 3.34μm for the GX8) due to its larger sensor. However, the GX8 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the A7 II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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 review, the A7 II provides substantially higher image quality than the GX8, with an overall score that is 15 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.6 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.
|Sony A7 II»||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Panasonic GX8«||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Panasonic GX9« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic GH5« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Panasonic GX7« »||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|Sony A7 III« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|Sony A9« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A7R III« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A7R II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7S II« »||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Sony A77 II« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Sony A7« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Sony A7R« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|Sony A77« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.2||801||78|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GX8 provides a better video resolution than the A7 II. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.
Feature comparison: Sony A7 II vs Panasonic GX8
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 A7 II offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the GX8 (2400k vs 2360k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A7 II and Panasonic GX8 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Sony A7 II»||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||8000||18.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic GX9« »||2760||n||3.0||1240||tilting||Y||4000||9.0||Y||Y|
|Panasonic GH5« »||3680||n||3.2||1620||swivel||Y||8000||12.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic GX7« »||2760||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||8000||5.0||Y||Y|
|Sony A7 III« »||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A9« »||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||8000||20.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R III« »||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II« »||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7S II« »||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A77 II« »||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||8000||12.0||Y||Y|
|Sony A7« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||n|
|Sony A7R« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||4.0||n||n|
|Sony A77« »||2359||Y||3.0||921||full-flex||n||8000||12.0||Y||Y|
Both the A7 II and the GX8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A7 II was replaced by the Sony A7 III, while the GX8 was followed by the Panasonic GX9.
Review summary: Sony A7 II vs Panasonic GX8
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Sony A7 II better than the Panasonic GX8 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7 II:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.6 stops ISO advantage).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1040k dots).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in November 2014).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (133x78mm vs 127x96mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 112g or 19 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (7 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GX8 comes out slightly ahead of the A7 II (8 : 7 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A7 II or the GX8 handle or 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Sony A7 II»||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|Panasonic GX8«||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-M5 II« »||HiRec||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Panasonic GX9« »||Rec||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Feb 2018||849|
|Panasonic GH5« »||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Panasonic GX7« »||Rec||79/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999||-|
|Sony A7 III« »||HiRec||89/100||5/5||-||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A9« »||HiRec||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A7R III« »||HiRec||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II« »||HiRec||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199||-|
|Sony A7S II« »||Rec||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony A77 II« »||-||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||May 2014||1,199|
|Sony A7« »||HiRec||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699||-|
|Sony A7R« »||HiRec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299||-|
|Sony A77« »||91/100||81/100||-||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,999||-|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.
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