Answer to reader who wants to know if I'll be returning my GH5 for a refund...

For a while here at the VSL's massive testing laboratory it looked like sheer gloom and doom for the GH5. The darn thing is about the same size as our beloved Sony A7Rii but that Sony camera just blows the GH5 out of the water when it comes to mind altering levels of resolution and detail. The A7Rii makes the Panasonic cry like a little girl when it comes to dynamic range and highlight recovery. And, it's got that all important more narrow depth of field when used with fast (or any) glass in the same basic angle of view.  Add to this that the A7Rii already had pretty nice 4K video (in APS-C mode) and it seems like a total smackdown. Who in their right mind would keep the 5?

My accounting department came in early this morning to box up the Panasonic and get the paperwork in order to make a return today. When I found out I fired everyone in that department. Who needs logic and metrics where camera body decisions are made?

You're damn right we're keeping the GH5, and here's why: The video performance from this camera is fantastic. Reason enough to own it. When used in conjunction with an external video recorder/monitor like the Atomos Shogun, in the 4K Pro Res set up it holds its own with anything out there except maybe a giant Red or Arri Alexa camera. For the kind of corporate work I do even staying all in camera delivers the good and does so in a very small form factor. While the Sony has an advantage in the arena of noise performance at higher ISOs the GH5 has much, much nicer skin tones and overall color and gradation. We'll keep it for anything that demands great, fast, happy video. 

But wait, there's more! Few other cameras (maybe the Olympus EM-1.2) are set up to use my dear old Pen FT lenses as well. At last count there are seven that we actively use... 

In either video or stills the GH4 runs circles around the Sonys when it comes to battery capacity and power management. Two extra batteries will get me through a full day of shooting while three pockets full of Sony batteries might be needed for the same run. 

Another difference is in handling. The Panasonic is designed for someone who actually shoots all day long. The Sony can deliver the goods and it's head and shoulders above most cameras for imaging performance but the Panasonic feels good. Works well. Has some winning personality. Got the good genetics when it comes to the menu UI and so much more. 

I can see a difference in image files. The Sony is lush and luxurious. You reach the end of your tether a little quicker with the Panasonic. But, again, we're talking the difference between 100% and 95%. I could make a living with either system. And do it pretty well. 

So, I'm getting rid of all the Sony stuff, right? Not so fast. There's a lot I like about the two Sony FF bodies I have and the selection of lenses I've put together. But the kicker is that big sensor hiding behind that weird body design. 

The Panasonic is fun to shoot. The Sony will deliver when the art director with OCD comes through the door. Let's keep both. 

Starting my personal KirkStarter Campaign to raise money for my hotly anticipated acquisition of the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 to round out my m4:3 system. I've already donated some and I guess I'll keep donating until I've reached my goal. Sorry, there's no website for donations. 

Sony vs. Panasonic. No contest. Both.


  1. And I just bought a s/h Olympus 12-40 for € 550,-. cant wait to get it. :)

  2. Can't wait to see your test on the Olympus 14 to 100.

  3. That test with the super hero beach towel was the clincher!

  4. Enjoy your new Panasonic GH5. Looks to be an excellent m4/3 camera. Back in early 2012 someone posted a link to something you had written about the Panasonic G3 after the Olympus E-M5 had been announced but not yet available. You had written about how the G3 had a lot of what the E-M5 had and was a very nice camera. A few days later I saw the G3 + 14-42mm + 45-200mm kit at a big discount here in Japan so on the spur of the moment I bought it. My first m4/3 camera, but I had been trying for years to find a way to get my travel kit down in size/weight. In fact, I liked it so much a month later I got the E-M5 and several lenses. Now I have 4 Olympus bodies, still have the G3, a bunch of lenses, and a flash. My DSLRs and lenses have been packed away since 2012. Thanks for the tip about the G3!

  5. And what will happen to your poor little Sony RX10s? Will you throw them into the street to fend for themselves, or worse, sell them into slavery with a brutal master who will use them, like W. Eugene Smith with a Pentax, as hammers to drive nails in?

    The amusing thing was, at first I had no concept of who Gene Smith was. I thought he was this crazy old guy. He would give these rambling lectures while talking to you. I remember one day, Sandi was treating her Nikon like a very valuable item, and Gene got angry about it. He was already using an old Rolleiflex as a doorstop. So he took a Pentax—he had cameras all over—and used it to hammer a nail into a board for a sink stand he was building. He said, 'A camera is only a hammer.' He was adamant that she understand that cameras were tools.


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