GM5 vs LX100: Which one is right for you?

The Panasonic GM5 and LX100 made headlines at Photokina. While both offer a similar feature set, there’s also notable differences. Let’s start with a brief overview of the primary specs:

Panasonic GM5: Ultra compact, improves upon the already great GM1 with the addition of a hot shoe and live viewfinder, making it a viable replacement to GM1 and GX1/GX7 owners.

Panasonic LX100: µ43 sensor, 12.8MP, 4k Video and 10.9-34mm (24-70 effective) f/1.7-2.8 Panasonic-Leica Fixed lens.

I feel as though the news of the feature packed LX100 drew the most interest, thus I wanted to take first opportunity to discuss a few cons vs the GM5:

GM5 vs LX100:

Size: While the LX series was traditionally a compact camera, it’s actually much larger than the GM5. In fact, it’s closer to the GX7:

GM5 vs LX100 vs GX7 Size Comparison
GM5 and GX7 shown with the 20mm f1.7

As far as weight the GM5 rings in at 211g (.46 lbs) and the LX100 at 393g (.86 lbs). Even adding the popular Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (100g) or Olympus 45mm f1.8 (116g) to the GM5 would still keep the combo lighter than the LX100.

With a size tradeoff also comes an interface tradeoff. And the LX100 is arguable a little sexier with more dials and buttons vs the GM5.

Sensor: While the LX100 has a 16MP µ43 sensor, it doesn’t actually make use of the entire sensor. With a 4:3 aspect ratio, it uses only about 12.5 megapixels. And thus the crop factor is actually 2.2x (vs the 2x standard for m43). This, coupled with the fact that you cannot switch lenses, hinders it’s depth of field flexibility:

Depth of Field + Background Blur: 

As we’ve talked about before (5 Misconceptions About Micro Four Thirds Cameras), when people are talking depth of field, they really want to know how much background blur can they get.

Background Blur Comparison: GM5 vs LX100

As the graph depicts, the LX100’s ability to blur the background lies between the pink and green lines, just under the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (light blue), and far beneath the Olympus 45mm f1.8. We could go even further and add the Leica Noticron, Olympus’s 75mm f1.8, Panny 35-100mm f2.8 etc, to further illustrate the point – but you get the idea. And keep in mind we listed the extreme ends of the zoom, which is typically not the “sweet spot” of a lens.

The lack of flexibility with background blur is a serious drawback for many photographers currently on Micro Four Thirds. Though, if you’re coming from high end compacts (eg. RX100 G1x, etc.) this is a notable improvement.

Video:

Although I seldom record video, but undoubtedly the LX100’s 4k video is definitely one of the top selling points. People are even pulling stills from the high res 4k videos. Amateur Photographer even pulled a still from their magazine cover.

Though the LX100 lacks an output for external mics, a feature I’ve long been waiting on Panasonic (OM-D has this feature). While the dual mics on various new Panasonic bodies are good, it still won’t hold a candle to a dedicated external mic.

Conclusion

We’re still waiting on the performance reviews for the LX100, but if it’s anything like it’s predecessors it should be a solid camera. [1/20/2015 UPDATE: Checkout our LX100 Review Roundup!]

If you’re coming from the 1″ sensor camp, I don’t see why you wouldn’t love this camera. And if you’re looking for the smallest Micro Four Thirds camera, the GM5 is your best bet.

Which camera is right for you depends on your shooting style and personal preference. If you need the shallow depth of field for your portraiture, then the GM5 is for you. If you want 4k video in a compact body, the LX100 rocks. You might even decide you need the EPL-7 and it’s articulating screen for your selfies. Or perhaps you need the adjustable viewfinder and a lcd that tilts, if so, the release of the LX100 and GM5 should result in an inevitable price drop for the GX7.

As with all gear, pick what fits your style.

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