Sony NEX 6 vs Panasonic Lumix G5 – What’s the Best Option?

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As part of their in depth review of the Sony NEX 6, CameraLabs compared it to another of our favorite cameras of 2012, the Panasonic Lumix G5.  This comparison is not as cut and dry as some others might be, simply because there really a lot of “Apples to Oranges” features between these two cameras.  Each is well equipped, but each is equipped somewhat differently than the other.

Here’s how CameraLabs breaks it down…

CameraLabs Compares the Sony NEX 6 with the Panasonic Lumix G5

The Panasonic Lumix G5 is one of the more affordable compact system cameras on the market and incorporates a number of key improvements over the earlier G3. Like the NEX-6 it has a 16 Megapixel sensor, though the G5’s four Thirds sensor is physically a little smaller than the APS-C sized sensor in the NEX-6 and has 4:3 rather than 3:2 proportions. With their powered kit zooms attached, the G5 is actually a little bigger and heavier than the NEX-6, but the difference isn’t as big as all that, the G5 can also fit in a coat pocket. But the G5 has more conventional SLR-like styling, with rounded corners, a ‘prism’ hump, centrally located EVF and a big hand grip, so might prove a better fit for those with bigger hands. As always, it’s a good idea to get your hands on one before making a buying decision.

The NEX-6 inherits probably the best electronic viewfinder of any compact system camera, but the G5’s EVF is also very good. At 1.4 millions dots it may lack the ultimate resolution of the NEX-6’s 2.3 million pixel EVF but it is in fact a little brighter and with its 4:3 proportions also looks to be a little bigger when shooting images in their respective native formats. Both cameras have a sensor that automatically switches from the screen to the viewfinder when you put your eye to it, but the G5 also features a button so you can manually switch from one to the other. Both cameras have 3 inch LCD screens with similar resolutions, but whereas the NEX-6’s is hinged at the bottom and can flip up and down, the G5’s is side-hinged which means it can face forward as well as folding inwards for protection. More importantly, the G5’s screen is touch-sensitive, not only can you use it to touch focus when using the LCD to compose for stills and movie shooting, but you can also touch the screen to focus when using the EVF to compose.

The G5’s improved continuous shooting provides a 6fps full resolution top speed but that can’t match the NEX-6 with 10fps. What’s more, the NEX-6 can focus continuously at that rate where the G5’s focus is fixed on the first frame. The G5 does provide a lower resolution 20fps burst mode though. Both cameras offer a 1080p50/60 best quality HD video mode, but the NEX-6 provides exposure control while shooting, As I’ve already mentioned, though, the G5’s ability to touch focus may actually prove more useful in practice.

The NEX-6 powered kit zoom provides a more useful wide angle – 24mm equivalent compared with 28mm on the G5, but other than that there’s little to choose between these two lenses, though some may prefer the switch and ring arrangement on the Sony lens to the twin rocker switches for focus and zoom on the Lumix lens. It’s also worth noting that the G5 has a zoom rocker on the hand grip which is useful for single-handed operation.

While all these factors are significant, none of them on their own will likely swing you one way or the other, but the NEX-6’s ability to connect via Wi-Fi makes it a very different proposition from the G5.To be able to control it remotely using a smartphone or tablet, and to connect to the Internet and share photos is an enticing prospect. But more than anything, the ability to extend it by downloading low cost apps gives it a major advantage over non-connected cameras like the G5.  (Read comparison and full NEX 6 Review on CameraLabs  – Video review of the Sony NEX 6 above, courtesy of John Sison)

My 2 Cents

Each one of these cameras is arguably the 2nd tier camera in their respective lineups, although the NEX 6 is a lot closer to the top of the NEX line (many people actually prefer it over the flagship NEX 7) than the G5 is to the new Panasonic Lumix G5.  That being said however, I feel that either of these cameras would easily claim the top spot in many of their competitors lineups, and there’s a lot to love about each, which is why each one occupies a prominent spot among our favorite cameras of 2012.

These are both great cameras, so in my mind, it’s not so much a question of which is the better camera as much as which is the better camera for YOU.  So here’s my “Cliff’s Notes”, breakdown of how I see these two cameras stacking up to one another…

  • Build Quality:  They’re both well built, sturdy cameras.  Push.
  • Still Photo Image Quality:  Sony NEX 6 gets a slight nod over the G5.
  • Video Quality:  Slight nod (VERY slight) again to the NEX 6.  Those Sony sensors are great and there’s manual control in video, but the G5 is easy to use and pops out some great video.
  • Lens selection:  This one’s not even close.  The G5 in a landslide, with an arsenal of high quality micro 4/3 glass to choose from vs Sony’s limited collection of E-Mount lenses.
  • Mic Input:  Neither camera has one, which is disappointing. So this is a push.
  • Menus and Controls:  Both cameras have easy to use menus and an abundance of on body controls.  Since I feel that this will boil down to a matter of preference or getting used to a specific menu system, this is also a push.
  • Autofocus Performance:  They’re both blazing fast and each has their own quirks.  Push.
  • Wi-Fi:  The NEX 6 takes the honors here as there is no Wi-Fi on the G5.  Wi-Fi is the future, so you can expect to see it on the G6.
  • Form Factor:  This is a matter or preference.  Do you like the G5’s DSLR-like body or do you like the smaller, and flatter NEX 6?  Push on the body, but the Lumix G5 has a fully articulated touch screen which gives it a slight edge.
  • Cost / Value:  G5 all the way.  It costs 40% less than the NEX 6 (that’s $400 USD), and is one of the best cameras that you’ll get for the money.
  • Intangibles:  For me, video is a big deal and the NEX lineup are notorious for overheating in video mode.  Although Sony appear to have addressed this to some degree on the NEX 6, I still personally lack 100% confidence, whereas I know I can shoot all day with the G5 and not have to worry about overheating.  G5 gets the nod here.

Conclusion:

Most experts would choose the Sony NEX 6 in this particular head to head match-up, and on paper, it’s a “better” camera than the Panasonic G5.  But do not underestimate the G5.

Of course, I was faced with the very same choice a few months ago and in the end, I decided to go with the G5.   I would’ve been happy with either one, but the G5 was simply a better camera for ME at the time, and I’m beyond impressed with the way that it has performed.

So which is the better camera for YOU? (leave a comment below).

Buy the Sony NEX 6 or the Panasonic Lumix G5 on Amazon Here

Comments

einst stein says:

I found this article after Placing the order.

On the paper, everyone can tell Nex6 is a better choice — except the price consideration. It has bigger sensor, smaller and more stylish body, better high ISO performance. Now you can even get an af adapter to use Contax G AF lenses. This will be a great compensation to its lack of usable lenses. I would not look at all any m43 system.

I tested nex 6 and 7 in the store, efen with zeiss zm lenses. Surprisingly, the pictures out of Zeiss ZM 21mm and 25mm are nowhere to be desired. ZM 35mm is ok but so so. The movie has problem with the coloring. The grass is not treen, the sky is not blue, and the skin tone is oversaturated, looks like badly sun burned. The kit lens feels flinky, the image quality, oh, boy, what should I say.

After comparing with all the found movie footage on youtube, from both professional and non-professional, I concluded Nex 6 and nex 7 would not fit my taste.

Lumix G5 is slightly better. ZM 21mm and 25mm only work as 42mm and 50mm equivalent, not the wide angle around 35mm in equivalence, dissapointing but at least image quality is good. The most important is, it has xcellent movie even with its kit lenses. Adding Leica and Zeiss lens for tele shot makes it a fantastic system. I still need to find a wide angle olution, something between 24mm to 35mm in equivalence.

My order goes to Lumix G5, to B&H, I. spend us$600 for a brand new package that include the G5, 14-42mm zoom, 45-150mm zoom, and 12mm 3d/stereo lens. These lenses should be acceptible for movie. For serious still tele shots, I will use my Leica m zeiss zm lenses. For normal or. wide andle still, My M9 is still the only answer.

SP says:

I have Sony NEX 5R for couple of month, and lately I’ve found a great deal for Panasonic G5… man, I regret I bought NEX earlier and lenses too. G5 is much more comfortable to hold and to use – more physical controls, better grip, better balance of body/lens size. AF is not even close, G5 is just instant, almost like my Nikon DSLR, AF modes are more flexible and usable in G5. NEX now reminds me of an old point&shoot camera in terms of focus speed, reaaaly sluggish. Yes, NEX has better high-ISO performance, but difference is not that significant.
Thinking of selling NEX and lenses, and get some good lenses for Panasonic.
Just my 2 cents.

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