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In this review, we will compare two mirrorless cameras – the Sony Alpha a7R III and Panasonic Lumix DC GH5.
From the outset, it’s worth mentioning the Sony and the Panasonic are both good cameras with lots of nice features that will allow you to make stunning images and videos. However, each camera has its own advantages and disadvantages as well.
Whether you are deciding which camera to buy or you are only curious about specs and features of these two models, you’ve come to the right place!
Sony a7R III Release Date
The Sony a7R III was announced in October 2017 and was released the following month.
Panasonic GH5 Release Date
The Panasonic GH5 was announced in January 2017 and released two months later in March
Sony a7R III vs Panasonic GH5 Sensor and ISO Performance
At first glance, the Sony a7R III seems to be a much more powerful camera than the Panasonic GH5. The reason for this is that the Sony features a 42.2MP full frame sensor while there is “just” a 20.2MP micro four-thirds sensor in Panasonic’s camera.
As I’m sure you know, the art of photography is all about playing with light and large sensors make this task much easier. Cameras with full-frame sensors usually have better low-light sensitivity, greater dynamic range, and richer color-depth than those with a micro four-thirds sensor.
Additionally, the more robust resolution in the Sony a7R III offers enhanced image quality and a possibility to crop images to smaller dimensions while still preserving all the important details.
Having said that, the GH5’s sensor is no slouch.
The combination of the Live MOS sensor and the Venus Engine Image Processor results in superb image quality for a micro four-thirds sensor. In fact, DxOMark notes that the GH5 “delivers scores that are among the best-in-class for this size sensor.”
In fact, in my testing thus far, I’ve noticed excellent per-pixel sharpness (no doubt thanks to the omission of a low-pass filter), top-notch dynamic range, and beautiful details. This has been somewhat surprising, given the reputation of micro four-thirds sensors having lesser image quality than APS-C and full frame cameras.
On the ISO front, the a7R III has a much bigger ISO range. While the Panasonic GH5 offers a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to 25600 (extendable to ISO 100-25600), the a7R III offers a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to 32000 (extendable to ISO 50-102400).
In testing, the a7R III does, in fact, outperform the Panasonic. DxOMark notes that the Sony has one of the best low-light ISO scores it’s ever seen, and that the images produced on an a7R III have less noise than even the Nikon D850.
Again, the GH5 holds its own here. You get excellent dynamic range at base SEO, and even when I’ve pushed the ISO upward, there has been a more than acceptable level of noise.
Sony a7R III vs Panasonic GH5 – Video features
Sony a7R III
Although the Sony a7R III has the sensor to provide better image quality than the Panasonic GH5, things are different when it comes to video capabilities.
It is not because Sony’s video features are bad, either. On the contrary, the a7R III allows you to record 4K videos and someone would say you can’t get better than this. However, its frame rate is a bit lower (30p) than on the GH5 (60p). Also, the a7R III has an annoying 30 minute limit on videos.
The Panasonic GH5 records 4K video at 60p/50p.
The Panasonic GH5 is, on the other hand, perfectly designed for videographers. The camera has the capability to record Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) 8-bit videos without crop and without a recording limit.
The GH5 also has 4K and 6K photo modes that will allow you to extract 8MP photos from 4K videos and 18MB photos from video footage. This is a very useful feature, and it is one more reason why the Panasonic has a clear advantage in video capabilities over Sony’s camera.
Finally, in addition to 4K/60p capabilities, the Panasonic GH5 also allows you to record 1080p footage at up to 240 frames per second. In comparison, the a7R III also has a possibility to record Full HD videos, but only at up to 120 frames per second.
For me, this is where the biggest difference is between these two cameras.
I’ve used Sony Alpha cameras for video work since the a6000 came out in 2014. Each subsequent Sony camera I’ve tested - including the a7R III - has been solidly built, had tons of excellent features for video, and produced great results.
However, none of my Sony cameras can hold a candle to the GH5. This thing is absolutely incredible when it comes to video, particularly for a camera that’s two years old and priced so well. I’d go so far as to say that dollar for dollar, the Panasonic GH5 is the best camera for video on the market right now.
Get a detailed look at the Sony a7R III vs Panasonic GH5 video capabilities in the video above by Brady Bigalke.
Sony a7R III vs Panasonic GH5 Autofocus and Continuous Shooting Speed
Both of these cameras incorporate very good autofocus systems. However, the Sony a7 III features 693 phase-detection AF points and 425 densely positioned contrast-detection AF points in comparison to 225 focus points in the Panasonic GH5.
Don’t get me wrong - the autofocus system in the GH5 is fine, but it definitely has room for improvement when compared to the Sony. Overall, the autofocus system in Sony’s camera is one of the best you can find. Whether you are shooting stills or recording videos, you won’t have any issues with the camera getting the focus just right.
When it comes to burst shooting, the GH5 has a slight advantage. The camera offers continuous shooting at up to 12 fps, while the Sony a7R III allows only 10 fps.
Additionally, the GH5 also has an advantage over Sony's camera since it has less shutter lag, and bigger JPEG and RAW buffer. Both cameras support silent shooting, which is a convenient feature for photographing events or wildlife without being a distraction.
In the video above by The Everyday Dad, you can watch hands-on comparison of these two cameras.
Sony a7R III vs Panasonic GH5 Design and Connectivity
Sony a7R III
Now, let’s compare the physical characteristics of these two cameras.
First of all, both cameras are weather-sealed and designed to work without issue even in harsh weather conditions such as in freezing or extremely hot temperatures. Both models also fit into a group of lightweight and compact cameras that are ideal for travel or street photography. The Sony a7R III is a bit smaller (by about 10%) and lighter (1.6 lb. vs 1.45 lb.) than the Panasonic GH5.
However, take into consideration that you will need to add a lens on each camera. Since Sony’s camera has a much larger sensor, it might also require bigger (and heavier) lenses. Because of this, the size and weight of these cameras should not play a big role in your decision which one to buy.
Although the Sony a7R III has a slightly higher viewfinder resolution (3686k vs 3680k dots), the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 has larger LCD screen (3.2" vs 3") and better LCD resolution (1.620K vs 1.440K). Finally, the LCD display in the Panasonic’s camera is selfie-friendly, while it is not the case with the Sony a7R III.
The articulated LCD display is particularly important for vloggers, because they usually want to see themselves while they are preparing videos. Although it is possible to overcome the lack of this feature via remote shooting or HDMI, an articulating screen is always appreciated by videographers.
Sony a7R III
Regarding connectivity, both cameras provide headphone and microphone jacks, an external flash shoe, HDMI out, built-in Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. The only difference in connectivity is that Panasonic's camera lacks an NFC connection.
The common strength of both models is the possibility of using two card slots. The only difference is that the GH5 supports UHS-II cards on both slots while the a7R III allows you to use one slot for UHS-II and another slot for UHS-I.
The Sony a7 III battery life is longer, and you can expect to make around 650 shots or 100 minutes of video before your battery runs out. However, you shouldn’t expect to make more than 450 shots or 55 minutes of video with Panasonic’s camera, though the Panasonic GH5 battery life estimate is on the low side, at least based on my testing thus far.
Sony a7R III vs Panasonic GH5 Image Stabilization
The Sony a7R III has a five-axis in-body image stabilization system that offers excellent performance at varying focal lengths.
I’m a landscape photographer, so I typically use wide-angle lenses, and the a7R III has consistently given me 2-3 stops of advantage when shooting with a wide-angle. On the other end of the spectrum, you can expect 4-5 stops when shooting telephoto.
Since the GH5 has a smaller sensor, there’s much more room for its image stabilization system to work. And work it does.
The GH5’s hybrid image stabilization system isn’t just class-leading. This sucker is world class.
Since it’s sensor-based, you can use any lens with this camera and reap the benefits of image stabilization. Whether you’re shooting stills (which I’ve done handheld down to 1/10 seconds) or video, there is no better image stabilization on the market right now, especially at this price point.
Sony a7R III vs Panasonic GH5 Price
The price of the Panasonic GH5 is much lower - you can buy a new camera (body only) for $1,497.99. Again, you can expect to save several hundred dollars if you buy used - pre-owned GH5’s can be found for about $1,250.00 and up.
If you're not sure where to buy used camera gear, read my MPB review to learn why MPB is one of the best used camera stores you can find.
As a long-time Sony owner, I can tell you that I really, really like the a7R III. It’s a fantastic, highly capable camera.
Having said that, the GH5 would be my choice between these two. I’m getting more and more into video, and the GH5 is hands-down the better camera for video. Combined with the absolutely stellar image stabilization and the much lower price, I think the GH5 is simply impossible to beat!