Photography

Panasonic GH5 vs Sony A6500 – Which One Should You Buy?

The Panasonic GH5 has just been announced, and will surely be on the top of many people’s shopping lists. As an interchangeable mirrorless camera that can shoot excellent video footage and stills footage, it’s expected to be a huge contender in 2017 for camera of the year.

But the Sony a6500 which was released last year is still of course, hugely relevant. If you already own a DSLR and want to get into video, or if you are looking to buy into a mirrorless platform, these two offer strong options, so we’ll take a look into which one is best for you.

Design

The Panasonic GH5 has a smaller sensor than the Sony a6500, but a significantly larger body. It weighs 725g to the 453g of the Sony, and physically resembles a more professional piece of kit. This isn’t entirely a surprise since the flagship mirrorless models of Sony are the a7 series, while the GH5 is Panasonic’s flagship camera.

Similarly to the a6300, the a6500 is flat and compact without many protruding curves. It’s sleek, but has always felt a little unbalanaced with the larger APS-C or full-frame lenses offered for E-mount.

On the other hand, the GH5 will be using lighter lenses from the MFT mount, and those lenses will sit comfortably if the GH4 is anything to go by (it is). The GH5 also has a larger grip, and ultimately with the addition of knobs, we feel like it’s a definite winner in the design department. While it is heavier, it’s still very compact considering how incredible the technology inside is.

Ergonomics

Both cameras are strong contenders for videographers who want a smaller body, or photographers who want to work lightly in video. Part of that nowadays does involve vlogging, or working with different angles.

The a6500 has a tilting LCD to help with low angle photography or high angle photography, while the GH5 is fully articulating so that one can even vlog or take selfies.

Both cameras are weather sealed for maximum flexibility.

Image Quality

Since we don’t have any sample images from the GH5 yet, it’s hard to say for sure how the camera will perform. After trying out the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, which has a similar Four Thirds CMOS sensor, we noted once again the poor high ISO performance, and generally expect the GH5 to be useable up to ISO 2000.

The a6500 has a larger APS-C sensor, and the noise will be much more acceptable at higher ISOs. Image quality should also generally be higher in terms of pure still photography, due to the slightly higher megapixel count and sensor.

The a6500 can also go up to 51,200 and be clean at a reasonable level, while again the 25,600 quoted by Panasonic for the GH5 is most likely wishful thinking at best.

Special Features

Dring the press conference at Photokina we were hugely impressed with 4K Photo Mode, which can extract 8MP stills from 4K footage. 8MP may not seem like a lot, but it’s definitely good enough for web use – and hence also client use.

Video Quality

Both cameras can shoot 4K footage, although there’s little debate that the GH5 is expected to be better. It can shoot at 60fps with no recording time limit, as well as the ability to shoot 10bit 4:2:2 video up to 4K @ 30fps internally to the SD card. The GH4 allowed the capturing of 4:2:2 10bit images, but only with the use of an external recorder.

The a6500 can shoot 4K at 30fps, and will serve as an excellent “B” camera for many videographers who want to travel lightly, although it has no headphone jack, a limited time before it overheats at 4K, and persistant issues with rolling shutter.

Specifications

Panasonic GH5Sony a6500
Sensor20MP Four Thirds CMOS24MP APS-C CMOS
ISO100 – 25,600100 – 51,200
Screen3.2″ Fully Articulated3″ Tilting
Video Resolution4K @ 60fps4K @ 30fps
4K Photo Mode8MP StillsX
Continuous Shooting12fps11fps
Max Shutter Speed1/80001/4000
Built-In FlashX
Flash Sync PortX
Viewfinder3.68-million-dot OLED2.4-million-dot XGA OLED
Weight725g453g
Headphone JackX
Built-In Wireless
Environmental Sealing
Autofocus Points225425
PriceUS$ 1,998.00$ 959.00

Conclusion

Considering the small price difference between the two cameras, we would almost certainly opt for the GH5. It won’t have as high quality still photographs, but its capabilities are certainly nothing to shy away from.

The body is still light, and the ergonomics are far superior, with a higher resolution EVF and a fully articulating LCD.

While the a6500 has more AF points, 225 on the GH5 is ample enough, and ultimately the GH5 is simply an excellent flagship model while the a6500 is secondary in the Sony line-up to the a7 series. However, if we consider the a6300 instead of the a6500, then it’s a tougher question, because of a significant price difference between the a6300 and GH5.