Panasonic GX7 vs GX1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 vs Sony NEX-6

August 1, 2013

Panasonic Lumix GX7 camera

On August 1st 2013, Panasonic has announced the Lumix GX7, the successor for the GX1. The  new GX7 boasts plenty of great features in a very nice looking camera too.  In this article I will compare the GX7 versus three other very popular Compact system cameras, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Panasonic Lumix GX1 and Sony NEX-6.

The NEX-6 and E-M5 are both among my personal most favorite CSC. I’m sure that you want to know how the brand new Lumix GX7 compare to those two cameras. I guess that some of you have been waiting for a new CSC to be revealed in order to buy a new camera or upgrade your current Micro Four Thirds camera. In this comparison article we’ll take a look at the differences between the E-M5, NEX-6 and GX7 and hopefully you’ll get all the information you need in order to make up your mind and decide whether the GX7 will be your next camera.

I will start with a short introduction to the GX7 key features and then we’ll continue with the comparison itself. Afterward, we’ll talk about the differences in more details and sum up the differences in the conclusion section. So without further ado, let’s begin.

Panasonic Lumix GX7 Introduction

Panasonic Lumix GX7

Panasonic Lumix GX7 (image credit: Panasonic)

The Panasonic Lumix GX7 is replacing the Lumix GX1 which was announced on November 7th 2011, almost two years ago.  With this new camera, Panasonic strives to attract more people to join the Micro Four Thirds system. For the $999.90 initial price (body only),  the GX7 costs the same as the OM-D E-M5 ($999, last checked on B&H, visit B&H for updated prices).

The Sony NEX-6 is sells for around $650 (body only) as of the time of writing. This makes the GX7, at least in terms of pricing, a direct competitor to the Oly.  The Olympus E-M5 is a magnificent piece of photographic equipment in its own right and one of the most popular Compact System Cameras on the market right now.

The GX7 features a very large arsenal of features that puts it in a very strong position. It can compete with any other Micro Four Thirds camera currently one the market, at least when it comes to stills.

The most noticeable feature that I came across when I first read the press release is the highest-quality Electronic Viewfinder. The GX1 doesn’t employ an EVF, but you have the option to attach an external one to the accessory port. The NEX-6 and the OM-D E-M5 — both employ a high quality electronic viewfinder. This is an essential component, at least if that model was designed to compete against the higher-end models from Sony and Olympus.

The integrated LVF has a 90-degree tilting mechanism, 16:9 aspect ratio 0.7x magnification, 2765K-dot resolution and 100% color reproduction based on a field sequential color accuracy method. This superb LVF was designed to give photographers the best visual experience than any other EVF available on the market. It also features an Eye sensor that automatically starts focusing when you put your eye against the EVF.

Panasonic also implemented a new in-body image stabilization mechanism. I guess that Panasonic saw that the E-M5 5-axis image stabilization is one of the features that many people were excited about, and decided to implement this feature on the GX7 as well.  Most of Panasonic’s Micro 4/3 lenses already employ the MEGA O.I.S.. The built-in IS will be useful with lenses from other manufacturers as well as some of Panasonic’s MFT lenses that don’t have built-in IS (e.g. Lumix G 14 mm, Lumix G Vario 7-14mm).

The Panasonic Lumix GX7 enjoys a newly developed 16MP Digital Live MOS sensor. The new sensor will result in sharp and higher sensitivity than previous generation sensors. According toe Panasonic you can expect a 10% improvement in the color saturation and sensor’s sensitivity.  S/N ratio has been improved by 3%5 and detail reproduction by 10% as well.

Panasonic Lumix GX7 rear

The GX7 will provide photographers a more advanced camera for low-light photography. The sensor can shoot up to ISO 25,600 and with the Multi-process NR you can expect amazing results when shooting under restrictive light conditions.

The GX7 comes with a 3-inch 3:2 aspect ratio wide-viewing angle 1040K-dot touch-sensitive LCD display. So both a high-res display, tiltable and also touchscreen as well — a great combination of useful features that will appeal to the enthusiast photographer.

Other features include:

  • Panasonic’s latest Venus Engine 8 image processor
  • 1/8000 sec max. Shutter speed
  • Full HD 60p /30p / 24p video recording with stereo sound with full exposure control — both MP4 and AVCHD available
  • 22 filter effects
  • 23 Scene modes
  • Time lapse shooting
  • Creative Panorama
  • Stop motion animation aid
  • 0.5 start up time
  • 5 fps continuous shooting (4.2 fps in AF tracking mode) / 40 fps when using the electronic shutter
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n + NFC ISO/IEC 18092, NFC-F (Passive Mode)
  • Magnesium alloy body
  • Low Light AF (as low as-4EV)
  • Pin-point AF with 3x to 10x digital magnification
  • Supersonic Wave Filter (dust reduction mechanism)
  • 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 aspect ratio
  • 3D Still (MPO)
  • RAW + JPEG
  • 1728-zone multi-patter light metering system
  • Touch AF
  • Two scroll dials at the top
  • Pop-up flash
  • Silver and Black color version

You can clearly see why many photographers are already so excited about this new camera. Panasonic really came out with an evolutionary Micro 4/3 camera, not recycling a previous model, but a newly designed interchangeable lens camera with unique feature, great build-quality and attractive design.

The combination of 1/8000 sec maximum shutter speed, ISO 25,600 and the high-sensitive sensor, built-in sensor-shift IS, Multi-process NR mode and Panasonic’s latest Venus Engine processor — All should allow photographers to capture spectacular images in low-light situations.

The GX7 is one of the most impressive Micro Four Thirs cameras on the market without a doubt. Panasonic has really outdone itself with this new ILC.

Gx7 vs OM-D E-M5 vs GX1 vs NEX-6

As impressive as the specs are, let’s not forget that there are already other excellent Mirrorless Interchangeable lens cameras on the market. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Sony NEX-6 are among those cameras. In this section I will compare the GX7 versus the E-M5, GX1 and NEX-6 in order to reveal the key differences between those four cameras.

Panasonic Lumix GX7 size comparison
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As you can see from the above specs comparison table, the GX7 stands up well against the NEX-6 and the E-M5. The Lumix GX1 is no match here. The one thing we haven’t brought up here yet is the GX1 price. The GX1, as of the time of writing, sells for around $300 (body only). That’s much cheaper than the other cameras and that’s something that you need to take into account. The GX1 wasn’t designed to compete against the higher-end Compact System Camera’s models, but as an entry-level model its stacks up well against other cameras in its price range.

The Olympus continues to stay as a top high-end Micro Four Thirds camera. Here’s a summary of the features that the E-M5 has that are not available on the GX7:

  • Weather-sealing (you can shoot with it in the rain!)
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • OLED LCD
  • 9 fps burst speed
  • Wider light metering range
  • Underwater housing option
  • External mic via SEMA-1 adapter
  • Slimmer

The Panasonic Lumix GX7 however has the following features that are not available on the Oly:

  • Better S/N ratio
  • ISO 125 (extended mode)
  • Higher resolution rear LCD display
  • Smaller body
  • Higher resolution (almost twice the resolution), larger and tiltable EVF
  • 1/8000 sec maximum shutter speed
  • Up to 40 fps in SH mode
  • Faster Flash sync speed
  • Built-in Pop-up flash
  • More flexible exposure compensation
  • 1080p60/24/40 video recording frame rates (MP4/AVCHD)
  • Time lapse feature
  • Wi-Fi
  • NFC (easily transmit your photos to your mobile phone or tablet)
  • Built-in HDR mode
  • Better hand grip

Quite a long list of impressive specs. This gives you an idea why the GX7 is such a good alternative to the E-M5.  Some of you might prefer the E-M5 weather-sealing capability and its 5-axis image stabilization over all of the advantages the advantages that the GX7 has over the E-M5 — I can understand that. It’s all boils down to personal preference.

The Sony NEX-6 on the other hand is much smaller than the E-M5 and the GX7. It has an APS-C size sensor, screen that can tilt up 90-degrees, very high-quality and large OLED EVF, fastest burst in the group, pop-up flash, 1080p60 video recording, Sweep Panorama and very good battery life. The NEX-6 is also the only one in the group to have a Hybrid AF (contrast-detect + phase-detect AF sensors) which improved its subject tracking performance when shooting fast-moving subjects, it also comes with built-in WiFi and 99 AF points.

Each camera has its cons and pros as you can see. However, it’s important to know that when you buy a mirrorless camera you are buying into a whole camera system. This means that you should also consider the available lenses and accessories prior to purchasing either of those cameras. The E-M5, GX7 and GX1 — All are Micro Four Thirds cameras and are compatible with all the Micro Four Thirds lenses out there (and there are a lot of them). The Sony NEX-6 is compatible with E-mount lenses. It’s a good practice to make sure that the type of lenses that you need are available to purchase at your local offline or online store.

Some people find the NEX camera to be somewhat limited with the variety of lenses that they system offers. Just make sure that you are also taking the lenses into account as well.

Before we move into the conclusion section — take a look at this video that was shot using the Panasonic Lumix GX7  (Directed & Filmed by Dai Ozaki )

More works and sample images can be seen in this GX7 minisite here.

WOW, just WOW!

Conclusion

So should you pick the Panasonic Lumix GX7 over the Sony NEX-6, Lumix GX1 and Olympus OM-D E-M5? — I think that the GX7 is a very feature-rich interchangeable lens camera. It comes with a tiltable EVF with super high resolution and field Sequential Color Accyracy, 1080p60 video recording, built-in IS, Wi-Fi and NFC, Pin-point AF for precise focusing, 1/8000 shutter speed and all in a beautiful crafted and stylish magnesium alloy body.

The GX7 certainly deserved a respectable place among the other flagship CSC from another manufacturer. The popular E-M5 and the NEX-6 now have a very competitive model that certainly tops the two in many aspects. As you’ve seen in the comparison table above, each camera has its cons and pros, and some of you might find the NEX-6 or the E-M5 to be the better fit for your type of shooting style.

For example, the E-M5 will certainly appeal to the outdoor photographer who is searching for a weather-sealing Interchangeable lens camera. Other people might prefer the NEX-6 for its Hybrid AF, more compact body and APS-C sensor. Each one makes its own choice based on his specific needs. I found the Panasonic Lumix GX7 to be a remarkable camera with amazing features that I personally find very useful.

I think this is the time for Panasonic to shine and no doubt that the GX7 is going to be a very popular CSC camera. My main criticism is more about the price than the lack of some features that I would have liked to see on this model. Bo doubt that Panasonic aimed high with this camera, but I think that for its initial price it might be out of reach for many people — left alone those who were waiting for a new MFT camera to upgrade from their current camera.

The GX7 is also slightly larger and heavier than I expected it to be, but nothing to be too concerned about I think.

Which one do you prefer? – Have questions? — Post your opinions and question in the comment section below. Thanks for reading.

For a visual side by side comparison of thsoe four cameras, visit camera size website.



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