Sony A7S versus Panasonic GH5
The Sony Alpha A7S and the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2014 and January 2017. Both the A7S and the GH5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7S) and a Four Thirds (GH5) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 12 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 A7S vs Panasonic GH5
The physical size and weight of the Sony A7S and the Panasonic GH5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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 A7S – represents 100 percent 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 GH5 is notably larger (14 percent) than the Sony A7S. Moreover, the GH5 is substantially heavier (48 percent) than the A7S. 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 (A7S) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GH5). 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 A7S»||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499||-|
|Panasonic GH5«||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Nikon D750« »||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon Df« »||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Nikon D700« »||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||-|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Panasonic G9« »||137 mm||97 mm||92 mm||658 g||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699|
|Panasonic GX8« »||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Panasonic GH4« »||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499||-|
|Sony A6300« »||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999||-|
|Sony A7R II« »||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||-|
|Sony A7S II« »||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony A7 II« »||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|Sony A7« »||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699||-|
|Sony A7R« »||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299||-|
|Sony RX1R« »||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799||-|
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 GH5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the A7S, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 A7S vs Panasonic GH5
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 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. 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 Sony A7S features a full frame sensor and the Panasonic GH5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GH5 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 A7S has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GH5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the GH5 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixel, compared with 12 MP of the A7S. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 8.45μm for the A7S). However, it should be noted that the GH5 is much more recent (by 2 years and 9 months) than the A7S, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GH5 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 review, the A7S has a notably higher overall DXO score than the GH5 (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.2 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 A7S»||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
|Panasonic GH5«||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Nikon D750« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|Nikon Df« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||-||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|Nikon D700« »||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||-||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Panasonic G9« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic GX8« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Panasonic GH4« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
|Sony A6300« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.4||13.7||1437||85|
|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 A7 II« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|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 RX1R« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the GH5 provides a better video resolution than the A7S. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/60p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.
Feature comparison: Sony A7S vs Panasonic GH5
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the GH5 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A7S (3680k vs 2400k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A7S, the Panasonic GH5, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Nikon D750« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||tilting||n||4000||6.0||Y||n|
|Nikon Df« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||4000||5.5||n||n|
|Nikon D700« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||8.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||8000||18.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic G9« »||3680||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||8000||20.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic GX8« »||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic GH4« »||2359||n||3.0||1036||swivel||Y||8000||12.0||Y||n|
|Sony A6300« »||2300||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||4000||11.0||Y||n|
|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 A7 II« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||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 RX1R« »||-||n||3.0||1229||fixed||n||4000||5.0||Y||n|
The GH5 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A7S has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7S was succeeded by the Sony A7S II.
Review summary: Sony A7S vs Panasonic GH5
So how do things add up? Is the Sony A7S better than the Panasonic GH5 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7S:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.2 stops ISO advantage).
- More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 139x98mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 236g or 33 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2014).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 27%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/60p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3680k vs 2400k dots).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 921k dots).
- 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 (12 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 9 months of technical progress since the A7S launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GH5 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 6 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.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A7S and the GH5 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Sony A7S»||-||86/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499||-|
|Panasonic GH5«||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Nikon D750« »||HiRec||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon Df« »||-||81/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Nikon D700« »||89/100||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||-|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Panasonic G9« »||HiRec||85/100||5/5||-||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699|
|Panasonic GX8« »||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Panasonic GH4« »||HiRec||85/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499||-|
|Sony A6300« »||Rec||85/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999||-|
|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 A7 II« »||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|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 RX1R« »||-||-||4/5||rev||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799||-|
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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Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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