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Sony RX100 versus Panasonic GM5

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2012 and September 2014. The RX100 is a fixed lens compact, while the GM5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (RX100) and a Four Thirds (GM5) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 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 RX100 vs Panasonic GM5

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony RX100 and the Panasonic GM5 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. 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 RX100 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony RX100 vs Panasonic GM5
Compare RX100 versus GM5 top
Compare RX100 and GM5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX100 and the Panasonic GM5are of equal size. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the RX100 nor the GM5 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 has a lens build in, whereas the GM5 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the GM5 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the RX100 gets 330 shots out of its NP-BX1 battery, while the GM5 can take 220 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLH7 power pack.

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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony RX100» 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- i
Panasonic GM5« 3.9 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 7.4 oz 220 n Sep 2014 749- i
Canon G7 X« » 4.1 in 2.4 in 1.6 in 10.7 oz 210 n Sep 2014 699- i
Canon T5i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i
Canon SL1« » 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549- i
Panasonic G7« » 4.9 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 14.5 oz 350 n May 2015 649- i
Panasonic G6« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 n Apr 2013 599- i
Panasonic GM1« » 3.9 in 2.2 in 1.2 in 7.2 oz 230 n Oct 2013 749- i
Ricoh GR II« » 4.6 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 8.9 oz 320 n Jun 2015 699- i
Ricoh GR« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 290 n Apr 2013 799- i
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i
Sony RX100 III« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i
Sony A5100« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony RX100 II« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 n Jun 2013 749- i
Sony NEX-5R« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2012 749- i
Sony NEX-5N« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.5 oz 460 n Aug 2011 699- i
Sony NEX-C3« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 7.9 oz 400 n Jun 2011 599- i

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 RX100 was launched at a lower price than the GM5, despite having a lens build 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony RX100 vs Panasonic GM5

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 Sony RX100 features an one-inch sensor and the Panasonic GM5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GM5 is 94 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 2.0. The sensor in the RX100 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GM5 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Sony RX100 and Panasonic GM5 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Sony RX100 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixel, compared with 15.8 MP of the Panasonic GM5. 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 2.41μm versus 3.77μm for the GM5). Moreover, it should be noted that the GM5 is much more recent (by 2 years and 3 months) than the RX100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

RX100 versus GM5 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. 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
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX100» 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066
Panasonic GM5« Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.111.772166
Canon G7 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
Canon T5i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
Canon SL1« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
Panasonic G7« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p----
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961
Panasonic GM1« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066
Ricoh GR II« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880
Ricoh GR« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
Sony RX100 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567
Sony A5100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367
Sony NEX-5R« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078
Sony NEX-5N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977
Sony NEX-C3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).

 

Feature comparison: Sony RX100 vs Panasonic GM5

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the GM5 has an electronic viewfinder (1166k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the RX100 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony RX100 and Panasonic GM5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony RX100»- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y
Panasonic GM5«1166 n 3.0 921 fixed Y 500 5.8 n n
Canon G7 X« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 2000 6.5 Y Y
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon SL1« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n
Panasonic G7« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n
Panasonic GM1« »- n 3.0 1036 fixed Y 500 5.0 Y n
Ricoh GR II« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n
Ricoh GR« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y
Sony RX100 III« »1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y
Sony A5100« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y
Sony NEX-5R« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n
Sony NEX-5N« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n
Sony NEX-C3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 5.5 n n

Both the RX100 and the GM5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The RX100 was replaced by the Sony RX100 II, while the GM5 was followed by the ...

Review summary: Sony RX100 vs Panasonic GM5

So how do things add up? Is the Sony RX100 better than the Panasonic GM5 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 15.8MP) with a 15% higher linear resolution.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 921k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (2000/sec vs 500/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5.8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the GM5 requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (330 versus 220) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2012).

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 3 months of technical progress since the RX100 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 5 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.

RX100 11:05 GM5

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the RX100 and the GM5 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony RX100»HiRec78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i
Panasonic GM5«Rec77/1005/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 749- i
Canon G7 X« »HiRec77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699- i
Canon T5i« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i
Canon SL1« »Rec78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i
Panasonic G7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/54.5/5 May 2015 649- i
Panasonic G6« »HiRec-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i
Panasonic GM1« »Rec78/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 749- i
Ricoh GR II« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699- i
Ricoh GR« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799- i
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i
Sony RX100 III« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i
Sony A5100« »Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony RX100 II« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i
Sony NEX-5R« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2012 749- i
Sony NEX-5N« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699- i
Sony NEX-C3« »HiRec74/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599- i

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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 your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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