One of the biggest camera trends of the year has been the arrival of affordable little full-frame cameras. The Nikon Z5 landed in August and now we have the Sony A7C and the Panasonic Lumix S5.
While the Nikon Z5 is primarily aimed at photographers, the Sony A7C and Panasonic Lumix S5 are smaller and more video-oriented. Both are 24MP full-frame cameras that are also the most compact models in their respective lines.
Impressively, the Panasonic Lumix S5 is even smaller than the Panasonic Lumix GH5, which has a relatively small Micro Four Thirds sensor, while the Sony A7C takes up less space than the Sony A7 III.
But Which of these two cameras is better? Sony has faster burst mode and phase detection autofocus, all in a smaller form factor than its rival.
The Panasonic Lumix S5, on the other hand, can shoot 4K/60p video. and in the future you will be able to send a 6K video stream to an external recorder.
On the surface these are very well matched full-frame cameras, but dig a little deeper and you might find out which camera is really the right one for you.
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Sony A7C vs Panasonic Lumix S5: price and release date
The Panasonic Lumix S5 was announced shortly before the Sony A7C, with both cameras arriving in September 2020.
They also have a similar price, although the Lumix S5 is a bit more affordable. It is priced for the body only at $1999 / €1799 / AU$3199, with the 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens available for $2299 / €1999 / AU$3699.
Meanwhile the sony a7c costs $1,800 / €1,900 / AU$3,299 with the body alone, or $2,100 / €2,150 / AU$3,899 with the new ultralight FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 lens. from Sony. This lens will cost around $499/€450 on its own, making it an even better investment than normal as it's a lens more or less designed just for this body.
Sony A7C vs Panasonic Lumix S5: Design
Both cameras are designed for portability and handheld shooting. They are also much smaller and lighter than some of their respective siblings. However, Sony really nailed this part.
The Sony A7C has the same sensor size as the Panasonic Lumix S5, but is much more compact. With 124 x 71,1 x 59,7mm, it's the smallest full-frame Sony camera you can get. It is tiny, smaller in all dimensions than the Lumix S5 133 x 97 x 82mm.
Sony hasn't changed the basic body style too much, as the Alpha cameras are already quite compact, but the A7C is still much slimmer than the 7 x 127 x 96mm Sony A74 III.
This means it will pair better with the new ultralight FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 lens, and may look a bit out of place if attached to one of the larger FE E-mount lenses on the Alpha series handle. it has been chipped away to make the camera as small as it is.
When combined with its new kit lens, the Sony A7C weighs just 676g (509g body only), while the Panasonic Lumix S5's body weighs 714g, breaking the kilo when you add its 20g to 60 lens. mm.
So while these two cameras are relatively small and lightweight, the Sony A7C is in another league.
While the engineers undoubtedly had to make compromises to reduce the size, the Lumix S5 and Alpha A7C have a magnesium alloy inner case and They are also waterproof and dustproof.
Sony A7C vs Panasonic Lumix S5: Autofocus
Sony also has the advantage in autofocus, at least on paper. The Lumix S5 still uses Panasonic's Depth of Defocus (DfD) technology, based on contrast detection. It just adds algorithmic image analysis to predict where the point of focus is, to speed things up.
There are 225 points in the focus system of the Panasonic Lumix S5, just like the Panasonic Lumix GH5.
The Sony Alpha A7C has both contrast-detection and phase-detection autofocus, with 693 phase-based points and 425 contrast points. This system covers 93% of the field of vision.
Panasonic has done a great job of improving contrast detection performance, to make it look at least somewhat competitive in 2020. However, you might notice a slight throbbing focus in moments when the Lumix S5 makes its final adjustments. attention. This is especially important for videos. The Sony A7C focus system is likely to feel safer and more decisive in use.
Despite this, Panasonic actually makes bigger low-light focus claims than Sony. It says the Lumix S5 can focus in environments as dark as -6EV, Sony -4EV.
This is something we will have to test first hand, but both cameras have essential software aids like eye tracking.
Why does Panasonic still use DfD? Hardware is no longer the obvious excuse, as many full-frame sensors have the required in-sensor phase detection technology. The obvious reason is that Panasonic has been working on DfD for years and currently believes that it is still the best solution for their cameras.
Sony A7C vs Panasonic Lumix S5: specifications
Both cameras have electronic viewfinders and fully articulating screens. They're not the kind of "compact" mirrorless cameras of a few years ago where essentials were cut out to reduce size.
You get 3,5mm headphone and mic jacks, USB-C charging, and a dedicated video button on each for quick and easy shooting.
The situation of the battery is the opposite of what might be expected, given its dimensions. The Panasonic Lumix S5 is rated at 440 shots per charge (CIPA standard), compared to 680 shots from the Sony Alpha A7C (with electronic viewfinder) or 740 shots when using the screen to compose.
This is due in part to the Sony Z-series battery, which has a capacity of 2280 mAhAlthough the statistics of the battery of the Lumix S5 are actually very similar at 2200 mAh.
This means that the Sony A7C is probably a bit easier on its battery than the Panasonic S5, although we would have to do side-by-side testing to be sure.
Sony A7C vs Panasonic Lumix S5: Video
Sony seems to have taken the Alpha series further than Panasonic has done so far with the Lumix line, but the Lumix S5 has some fundamental advantages.
You can record 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. In comparison, the Sony A7C only manages 4K at 30 frames per second. For some, that will be enough to tip the scales in favor of Panasonic.
The Panasonic Lumix S5 can also record at 10-bit depth, better than Sony's 8-bit.
However, the 4-frame 60K uses APS-C cropping on the Lumix S5. To use the full frame width, you need to go down to 30fps. The Sony A7C also uses this type of superior sampling for shooting in 4K without cropping.
What does it mean? The cameras' 24MP sensors are too high resolution to capture the full image without having too much data or too many pixels for a 4K image. They "oversample" to reduce it to 4K resolution in the final file.
Recording time limits have recently become big news in camera circles, after many found that the Canon EOS R5 overheats in about 15 minutes when shooting 8K video.
Sony says there is "no limit to recording time" on the Sony A7C. There's a 30-minute limit on the Panasonic Lumix S5, but only in the higher-end shooting modes the Alpha lacks, using 4K 10-bit capture.
Even their abilities and stats are the same. Both cameras allow you to record continuously at 4K/30p 8-bit. You'll need a day of filming in 30+ degrees Celsius to really test this one.
However, there is a big update for Lumix S5. A firmware update (probably paid) will allow you to record 6K video to an external recorder. At launch, you can shoot 6K through a 30fps burst photo mode, but it's not really the same.
The Lumix S5 is starting to emerge as the obvious choice for those who care more about video than still images.
The Panasonic Lumix S5 also offers slightly better slowdown. Capture 1080p up to 180fps, if you are limited in bitrate, with cropping. Meanwhile, the Sony A7C tops out at 120fps at 1080p.
However, both cameras have flat S-Log / V-Log and HLG shooting modes, so any claim that the Sony A7C is not a good fit for YouTubers and content creators is misplaced.
Sony A7C vs Panasonic Lumix S5: Still Images
The 24 MP full-frame sensors in both cameras suggest that still image quality will be comparable.. Expect 14-15 stops of dynamic range at base ISO and very good low-light performance.
The ISO ranges of Sony A7C and Panasonic Lumix S5 are also the same: 100-51,200 natively, expandable up to ISO 50 and up to ISO 204,800.
So where is the difference? Sony offers significantly better continuous shooting. The Panasonic Lumix S5 manages 7fps or 5fps with continuous autofocus. Sony's camera is much faster, with 10 frames per second with continuous autofocus. It's very fast and should make it a better option for action photography.
An obvious question for photographers is whether Sony and Panasonic had to water down their IBIS to make these smaller cameras. The A7C and Lumix S5 have five-axis stabilization which will apparently give you five stops of stabilization. So there are no obvious cuts there.
The Panasonic system can be increased to 6,5 stops with a stabilized lens. But the small lens on the Sony A7C doesn't have its own optical stabilization, which isn't exactly surprising given its size.
Sony A7C vs Panasonic Lumix S5 early verdict
Then, What conclusions should we draw from this direct comparison? Assign these differences to a few scenarios and we have a clearer idea of who should buy the Sony A7C and Panasonic Lumix S5.
Are you shooting video in a stationary studio environment where focus will be blocked? The Lumix S5 is the obvious choice. You can shoot in 4K at 60 frames per second and you'll even have the option of 6K in the future if you can afford an external recorder.
Meanwhile the Sony A7C probably makes more sense as a mixed-use mirrorless camera, especially if you want something small that you can take anywhere. This thing is small considering it has a full frame sensor and IBIS.
We love the idea of launching it with the new compact FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 lens or the even smaller Sony 28mm f/2.8 pancake.. It offers full-frame shooting, just in a body that's basically the same size as a compact APS-C camera like the Sony A6600. Very soon we will bring you our full reviews of both cameras.