Sony RX10 vs Nikon D5300 vs Panasonic Lumix GM1 – Comparison

October 17, 2013

Sony RX10, Panasonic GM1 and Nikon D5300 side by side

In this post we’ll have an interesting comparison. I will compare three new digital cameras. The first is Nikon’s latest entry-level DSLR camera, D5300; Second is the Panasonic Lumix GM1, which is the world’s smallest Micro Four Thirds compact system camera and third is Sony’s latest 1″ f/2.8 constant aperture superzoom camera, the Cyber-shot RX10.

I’ve decided to compare these three cameras because I  believe that many people are debating whether to buy a DSLR camera, Compact System Camera or a superzoom camera with a fixed lens. If we look at the pricing, we can see that the Sony DSC-RX10 costs ~$1300, Panasonic Lumix GM1 costs ~$750 with the new 12-32mm Kit lens, and Nikon D5300 costs ~$795 (body) and ~$1395 (with 18-140mm Kit lens).

The Panasonic Lumix GM1 is the least expensive camera of the three, and for $50 less than the D5300 body price you get a Micro Four Thirds camera with a 24-64mm (equivalent) lens. We cannot ignore the fact that the GM1 is also much smaller than the D5200, and I’m sure that its size will play a significant role in many people’s buying decisions. The RX10 is aimed towards those who are searching for a premium superzoom camera. The RX10 costs approx. $100 less than the Nikon D5300 plus the 18-140mm Kit lens, and aimed towards those who don’t want to mess with interchangeable lenses and want to enjoy a fast constant aperture lens camera with a relatively large sensor.

For many of you, the Sony RX10 might be all the you need, and although it lacks the GM1 portability, it features a constant f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens, super fast AF and tons of features that will appeal to the enthusiast photographer. So the main question that you might ask yourself now is what advantages the Nikon D5300 and Panasonic Lumix GM1 has over the RX10 which can convince you to buy a fixed-lens camera, instead of an interchangeable lens camera?

In this article we’ll take a closer look at those camera’s key features and learn the cons and pros of each one. Hopefully after reading this comparison article, you’ll get a better idea which camera is best for your specific shooting style — Let’s begin!

Camera Design

The first thing that we are going to look at is the look and feel of these three cameras. This is very important for many photographers, and very relevant for this specific comparison.

Sony RX10, Nikon D5300 and Panasonic Lumix GM1 size comparison

Sony RX10, Nikon D5300 and Panasonic Lumix GM1 side by side size comparison (via

The Panasonic Lumix GM1 is the smallest Micro Four Thirds camera yet. No doubt that compares to the D5300 and the RX10, the GM1 looks like an ultra compact camera, and it’s indeed very small, and I can even say pocketable (depends on your pocket size). If you always wanted to shoot with an interchangeable lens camera and haven’t bought one because of the camera size, the GM1 will make you think twice this time. Of course we need to also take the lens size into consideration.

Sony RX10, Nikon D5300 and Panasonic GM1 top view with lenses

Sony RX10, Nikon D5300 and Panasonic GM1 top view with lenses (via

The image above tells a new story, and you can see what makes the GM1 stand apart from the D5300 and the RX10. The RX10 features a 24-200mm, D5300 has the 18-55mm lens mounted and Panasonic GM1 has the 12-32mm lens mounted. The RX10 obviously has a long telephoto zoom lens and of course if we had the same equivalent focal length/aperture lens on the other two cameras we would need a much larger lens, and I mean much much larger. This is the main advantage that the RX10 has over the D5300 and GM1 and we’ll talk about this more in the lens comparison section.

The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Asph. Mega O.I.S lens was announced with the GM1 and serves as the Kit lens for this camera.  Panasonic designed this Micro Four Thirds specifically for the GM1 in order to maintain the small size factor, but this lens is compatible with all Micro Four Thirds cameras. So although the above image doesn’t tell the whole story due to the lens specifications, and there are many types of lenses with different sizes — what you need to know, is that if you want a high-quality compact interchangeable lens camera, the GM1 is probably the most attractive camera on the market right now.

Panasonic Lumix GF6, GM1, Sony RX100 II size comparison

Panasonic Lumix GF6, GM1, Sony RX100 II size comparison (via

You can see that the Panasonic Lumix GM1 is even smaller than the compact Sony RX100 II (1″ sensor) and Panasonic GF6 (Micro Four Thirds). That’s what makes the GM1 such a unique camera among all large-sensor compacts and especially among other mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

  • Panasonic Lumix GM1
    Build Quality: Magnesium alloy frame with aluminum top and bottom plates. Aluminum dial, button and lever
    LCD: 3.0-inch 1036K-dots fixed touchscreen
    Built-in Flash: Yes
    Weather sealing: No
  • Nikon D5300
    Build Quality: Plastic
    LCD: 3.2-inch 1037K-dots fully articulated
    Built-in Flash: Yes
    Weather-sealing: No 
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX10
    Build Quality: Magnesium alloy front and top casings
    LCD: 3.0-inch 1228K-dots Tiltable
    Built-in Flash: Yes
    Weather sealing: dust and moisture resistant design
Sony RX10 top-mounted LCD display

Sony RX10 top-mounted LCD display

The Sony Cybershot RX10 is the only camera in the group to enjoy weather-sealing, but the GM1 grabs the top score for build quality.  The GM1 is so small, so there is not place for a tiltable display, although you get to enjoy a touch user interface. The Nikon D5300 is the only camera to enjoy a fully-articulated display (same as the Nikon D5200) that will certainly excite the video-enthusiasts among us.

Regarding button layout, both the Nikon D5300 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 has lots of buttons to give fast access to frequently used functions.  The Sony Rx10 also enjoys a top-mounted LCD that will give you an instant confirmation of exposure, including info like ISO, images left, battery life, bracketing mode, etc. This is a feature that you can find on many mid-range and high-end DSLR cameras, and I was surprised and happy to see Sony implementing this feature on its high-end superzoom camera.
Sony certainly made the Sony RX10 a very attractive camera which is the hybrid of a mid-range DSLR camera and a high-end super zoom camera. You get plenty of manual controls, big grip, fixed f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens a  modern design—so right now the RX10 mainly competes against the Panasonic Lumix Fz200 which has a Lecai DC Vario-Elmarit 25-600 mm (35mm equivalent) f/2.8  lens but utilizes a 1/2.3-inch sensor (6.17×4.55 mm), which is much smaller than the RX10 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm ) sensor. Also worth mentioning is that the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is much less expensive, costs around $500 as of the time of writing on
Both the Nikon D5300 and the Sony DSC-RX10 utilize an OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder with four dual-sided aspherical lenses. The RX10 features a 1.44M dot 100%  coverage electronic viewfinder and D5300 has a 95% coverage optical viewfinder. The GM1 doesn’t have an eye-level viewfinder and you’ll be composing your shot via the rear LCD. The RX10 doesn’t have the most impressive EVF we’ve seen– For example, the Panasonic Lumix GX7 micro 4/3 camera features a 100% coverage 2.76M dots tiltable electronic viewfinder. I personally was expecting a higher resolution considering the RX10 price, but it doesn’t mean that the RX10 EVF is bad, just not as good as other new cameras that were introduced in 2013.
To sum things up — The Sony Cybershot RX10 grabs the highest score for its EVF, weather-sealed, durable body and DSLR-like ergonomics, buttons and controls, GM1 for its compact and durable camera body and touchscreen, D5300 for button layout, ergonomics, optical viewfinder and fully articulated display.
Now we are going to dive deeper into the specs and trust me, there is a lot to talk about.

Sensor and Performance

Let’s take a look at the specs first:
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The Panasonic Lumix GM1 is the smallest camera among the three, but despite its compact size, it has a sensor larger than the Sony RX10.  The Sony RX10 features a relatively larger sensor, but if Sony has decided to use a larger sensor, it had to use a larger camera, consider the same focal length and constant maximum aperture size of f/2.8.
Sensor size comparison: Sony RX10, Panasonic GM1 and Nikon D5300

Sensor size comparison: Sony RX10, Panasonic GM1 and Nikon D5300

As you can see from the above illustration, the D5300 features the largest sensor. The GM1 sensor is smaller, but it’s quite an amazing thing to see such a little ILC camera with this relatively large sensor. This reminds me of Sony’s NEX camera, especially the Sony NEX-5N which has an APS-C sensor and its slightly larger than the GM1.
The GM1 features an electronic shutter which supports its super fast 40 fps burst and 1/16,000 Sec maximum shutter speed—a great feature that will appeal to many enthusiast photographers.
All three were designed from the ground up to have great low-light performance. Of course it’s worth mentioning that the pixel size has also an effect of the camera’s low-light performance. The Nikon D5300 has ~3.9 micron pixels, GM1 has ~3.76 micron pixels and RX10 has ~2.41 micron pixels. So the D5300 due to its larger sensor and resolution has the largest pixels. The D5300 boasts 24MP resolution, quite high, even for APS-C sensors. The GM1 features 16MP which has proven to be the optimal resolution for Micro 4/3 sensors–allowing very good high ISO performance alongside very detailed images. The RX10 has, in my opinion, the least impressive balance when it comes to sensor size and resolution. 20MP for a 1-inch sensor is very high and I am interested to see if the Back-illuminated technology can help the sensor cope well with the light gathering capabilities of its photodiodes.
The light-gathering efficiency of back-illuminated sensors should help the Cybershot RX10 do well against the GM1 and D5300, but we still need to wait for some high ISO image sample comparison to comprehend the differences, and as of the time of writing it’s a bit too early to judge.
The Nikon D5300 sensor lacks the optical low pass filter of its predecessor. This design came as a surprise to me, as we usually see this feature in mid-range or high-end models. It seems like the lack of anti-aliasing feature is the new trend right now. I’ve seen many comparisons between camera models with and without the OLPF.  The removal of the OLPF will lead to an increase of image details, but the difference is not big as you might expect. It mainly visible when looking at images at 100% scale. No doubt that the 24MP and the lack of OLPF will appeal to those who looking for images with lots of details — but you’ll need a good lens to get the most out of each pixel.

Lens – Interchangeable vs Fixed

Let’s start with the specs:
  • Sony DSC-RX10
    24-200 mm F2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T*
    8.3x optical zoom
    7 aperture blades for smooth Bokeh
    14 elements in 11 groups (including 7 Aspheric elements)
    Optical Image stabilization + Active mode with electronic compensation (Anti-rolling) for video recording
    New Direct Drive SSM (Super Sonic wave motor) — uses piezoelectric materials rather than linear motors.
    3cm – 30cm minimum focus range across the focal length
    Aperture ring (inc. Aperture click switch for a stepwise feel)
    Built-in 3-EV Neutral Density filter
  • Panasonic Lumix GM1
    *Depends on the Lens, choose from a wide variety of Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lenses
  • Nikon D5300
    *Depends on the lens, choose from a wide variety of Nikon and 3rd party F-mount interchangeable lenses

Sony RX10 is the only camera in the group that comes with a fixed lens, and what a lens it is. The RX10 features a super high-quality Carl Zeiss optics with advanced apsherical elements that help reduce the diameter of the lens. This lens features a new SSM motor that helps for precise and fast focusing on the subject. This lens is perfectly optimized to take advantage of the RX10 sensor, and provide the resolution the camera needs to make the best out of this sensor high resolution.

Furthermore, the Sony RX10 feature newly designed BOINZ X image processing engine with better N/R algorithms and speed the camera needs to make the best of the available camera’s  hardware specs. This is the same processor used on the Sony’s latest Alpha 7 and 7R full frame mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

No doubt that the lens has a direct implications on the camera’s high price. However, the most interesting feature of this lens is the constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. For those of who don’t know what I’m talking about– a constant f/2.8 means that you can shoot at f/2.8 aperture along all the lens focal length

Aperture f/2.8 is referred to as fast aperture, and it’s a relatively very large aperture,  allowing more light to pass through the lens and promote excellent low-light capabilities. The combination of a large BSI sensor, fast f/2.8 lens and optical image stabilization should make the RX10 a great low-light performer — and it is not taken for granted when we talk about a superzoom camera.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 features a 25-600 mm f/2.8 lens but uses a 1/2.3″ sensor which is much smaller than the one found on the DSC-RX10, although it has a much larger focal length range (bigger zoom). The Nikon Coolpix P7800 features a 28-300 mm f/2.0-4 lens, but features a 1/1.7″  (7.44 x 5.58 mm) sensor which is much smaller than the RX10, doesn’t have the same 24mm wide angle and doesn’t feature a constant aperture across the zoom range. At 200mm, the RX10 has by far the fastest aperture considering the sensor size.

The fast aperture should yield a very shallow depth of field, which at 200 mm it is equivalent to F7.6 on a 35mm / Full frame camera. This is probably one thing that is missing on many superzoom cameras, the ability, a high degree, throw the background out of focus, and the RX10 has the ability to do this very well.

Both the Panasonic GM1 and the Nikon D5300 are interchangeable lens cameras. This means that unlike the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 that feature a fixed lens (no interchangeable), the D5300 and the RX10 accept interchangeable lenses. The D5300 is compatible with all Nikon and 3rd party F-mount lenses, whether the GM1 is compatible with all Micro Four Thirds lenses, including those of PAnasonic’s and many other 3rd party Micro 4/3 lens manufacturers.

For you, the photographer, this means better flexibility. On the RX10 you can’t change the lens and can’t use special lenses like ultra wide-angle, fisheye, 1:1 macro, fast primes, etc. The thing is that many experienced photographers have found out that they don’t need to shoot with those special lenses, and most of them will be fine with only one lens.

No doubt that the fast aperture lens will further convince people to buy the RX10 over a digital SLR with a superzoom lens (e.g. Nikon D5300 + 18-200mm lens).  The RX10 has the advantage of having a fast constant aperture lens. All of the affordable superzoom lenses with this focal length come with a variable aperture, not a constant one. However if you take the sensor size into consideration, those lenses for APS-C and Full frame lenses are faster than the RX10 one.

Furthermore, the Sony RX10 is not exactly a classic superzoom camera. It doesn’t have a 20-1200 mm (equiv.) lens like the Panasonic FZ70 or a 24-1200mm zoom like the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. Having said that, many of you might already find out that 200 mm is a pretty decent range for most of your needs, others might find it too short and will prefer a superzoom camera with much bigger zoom and give up the fast constant aperture and large sensor.

Who is the Sony RX10 for?

In this regard, the Sony RX1 is not for everyone.  I am among those photographers who just can’t leave without the ability to throw the background out of focus, and the f/2.8 aperture at 200 mm will certainly can help separate the subject from a distracting background and create some beautiful shots which are almost impossible to achieve in superzoom cameras that feature smaller sensors and slower lenses.  This will also help you to shoot better exposed shots in low-light situations without the need to bump up the ISO, which increases the amount of image noise. So in my opinion the Shallow depth of field and low-light advantage that you get with such a lens — certainly worth it. This is of course my personal preference, and if you tend to feel the same, the Sony RX10 might be the perfect superzoom camera for you.

More Features…

So we’ve talked about the camera body, sensor and lens. Now it’s time to dig deeper into the specs and see what other goodies are waiting for us inside.

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We can see that the Sony RX10 boasts some very attractive feature, including 1080p60 video recording, has a mic jack to connect an external stereo microphone, has WI-Fi + NFC, headphone jack — but lacks a built-in GPS.  Sony really did the best not leaving anything behind. Regarding the GPS, you cause your Smartphone together with the WiFi wireless connectivity to geotag your RX10 images.



The Sony RX10 is certainly the most interesting camera among the three, boasting a constant f/2.8 superzoom lens which brings that beautiful shallow depth of field to compact cameras, comes with built-in ND filter, 1080p video recording, Wi-Fi + NFC, headphone jack, 1″ BSI large sensor, durable weather-sealed body RAW+JPEG capture, newly developed BIONZ X processor, innovative optical image stabilization, super fast AF mechanism, high-quality OLED EVF, top LCD and great look and feel.

The Sony RX10 seems like the most impressive superzoom camera I’ve seen to date, although it’s still behind the competition when it comes to pure zoom range and can’t compete against other superzooms in this regard. No doubt, a great superzoom camera, but one that comes with a high price tag.

The Panasonic Lumix GM1 is the smallest camera in the group, much smaller than the other two and the world’s smallest MFT camera to date. It will appeal to those who can take advantage of the wide range of MFT lenses but those who feel intimidated using larger and heavier cameras and those who give more weight to the portability. Just buy the GM1 with the 12-35mm lens you get a very high-quality and compact / pocketable compact system camera.

The GM1 features built-in Wi-Fi, super fast shutter speed and autofocus performance, great build quality, touchscreen and tons of creative features that you can only find on Panasonic cameras.  The GM1 however lacks an eye-level viewfinder, an articulating display and lacks the camera design which allows fast access to many of the camera frequently used setting, you’ll have to do that via the menu system.

The Nikon D5300 got me less excited, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad camera.  The D5300 is aimed towards beginners and advanced photographers who are searching to buy a capable entry-level DSLR camera, but don’t mind paying more than the most entry-level one to enjoy better features.

If you want a camera with an optical viewfinder, one with a wide selection of high-quality interchangeable lenses, fully articulated display, large APS-C sensor, very high resolution, Wi-Fi connectivity and great overall performance — The D5300 might be the best camera for you.

If you want my opinion, I favored the Sony RX10. I care less about the difference in size between the GM1 and the RX10, I will put it in a small bag anyway, so it really doesn’t matter. However, being able to buy a relatively compact camera which I can shoot images with shallow depth of field, one that can shoot great image in low-light, 60p videos,  Carl Zeiss lens and fast AF performance — I couldn’t ask for more. This is in my opinion, among the best superzoom cameras I’ve seen to date. If you don’t need the big zoom like the Canon SX50 HS or Panasonic FZ200 one, the RX10 is the camera for you. If I had to buy one right now, I would pick up the RX10.

Which one do you prefer? — Share your opinion in the comment section below. Thanks for reading.

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