Panasonic Lumix G5 Ken McMahon, January 2013

Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Sony NEX-6 quality

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix G5 and the Sony Alpha NEX-6, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The Lumix G5 was fitted with the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 and the NEX-6 with the E PZ 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens. To produce an equivalent field of view to the lens on the G5 I zoomed the NEX-6 in to 19mm .

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Panasonic Lumix G5 results
1 Lumix G5 Quality JPEG
2 Lumix G5 Quality RAW
3 Lumix G5 Noise JPEG
4 Lumix G5 Noise RAW
5 Lumix G5 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix G5. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f5.6 and the sensitivity to 160 ISO (the base value). The camera metered an exposure of 1/400. The Sony NEX-6 metered an exposure of 1/500 at f5.6 at its base 100 ISO sensitivity.

The test scene on the day that I took these shots was particularly demanding with bright sunshine presenting a very contrasty scene with a wide brightness range. The Lumix G5 slightly overexposed the shot blowing the highlights in parts of the sky and on the white wall of the buildings. There's a slight gap on the left side of the histogram and a spike on the right, so had the G5 metered -1/3 or even -2/3EV more highlight detail could have been recorded without loss of detail in the shadows. Despite that the G5 has produced a good overall result with accurate white balance and natural looking colours.

Turning to the crops, the first one looks a little soft but this is partly at least due to the slight overexposure and slight atmospheric haze. Despite that there appears to be at least as much detail in the chapel walls and the grassy foreground as in the NEX-6 crop opposite. In the second crop, from closer to the frame edge shows a bit more contrast and the lighthouse is clear and distinct. The window frames and tiled roofs in the mid and foreground of this crop are are a little soft, though fairly typical of the laissez faire processing style of Panasonic Micro Four Thirds models.

The edges in the third crop, from close to the frame border are a little soft, but not noticeably more so than in the middle - at its 28mm equivalent wide angle setting the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 produces quite consistent results across the frame - and if you compare the RAW file with this JPEG there's none of the distortion or correction that's necessary on the NEX-6 with its 24mm equivalent wide angle and larger sensor, although of course the Panasonic could be doing its own corrections before the RAW data is recorded. Finally, the fourth crop from the centre of the frame, other than in the blown highlight regions, shows a good level of fine detail with crisp edges.

Compared with the crops from the Panasonic Lumix G5, the NEX-6 crops look punchier and more detailed, but is there really any more detail being resolved than in the G5 crops? The G5 slightly over-exposed the scene which doesn't help, but despite that, the gentler Panasonic processing produces less contrasty and slighter softer image detail. I'm not sure that there's really more detail in the NEX-6 crops, if there is, it's fairly marginal. Having said that, if you prefer the punchier look to the NEX-6 JPEGs, G5 owners might want to create a custom Photo Style setting with increased sharpness and/or contrast. Failing that, you of course also have the option of shooting RAW and doing your own processing.

Check out my Panasonic Lumix G5 RAW quality results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Panasonic Lumix G5 Noise results.


Panasonic Lumix G5
Sony NEX-6
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Panasonic Lumix G5
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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