CRAZY COMPARISON: Micro 4/3 vs Sony Full Frame! Panasonic 25 1.7 vs Sony 50 1.8 Pt 1

CRAZY COMPARISON: Micro 4/3 vs Sony Full Frame! Panasonic 25 1.7 vs Sony 50 1.8 Pt 1


Hey guys! Happy FRIDAY!! It’s a gorgeous morning here in sunny AZ and today I thought I’d step out in my backyard, while still in my pajamas to do a crazy comparison that some have asked for. Just for fun as always!

Yesterday I received the small and mighty Panasonic GX85 and since I own the Olympus PEN-F I was interested to see how the little GX85 compared to it. The GX8, which I took a look at a while ago HERE was to fat and chunky IMO, and lacked the 5 AXIS IS that is now inside the smaller but solid feeling GX85. Even so, I did enjoy that GX8 quite a bit and felt it was Panasonic’s best M 4/3 to date.

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When the GX85 arrived I was surprised as I actually loved the size and build. Thought it was perfect for Micro 4/3. I also received the TINY and light Panasonic 25 1.7 budget 50mm equivalent and the uber TINY and light Panasonic 42.5 f/1.7, which is billed as the “Mini Nocticron” (though the Nocticron is in a class of its own for M 4/3) though it is more of a competitor to the Olympus 45 1.8 than its bigger brother the Noct. 

Since I also have a Sony A7RII and Sony’s budget 50, the 50 1.8 (which is the same price as the Panasonic 25 1.7, under $250) I decided to put them against each other in fun basic snaps (shooting RAW) to see how each did.

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This is part 1 which is a look more at the lenses. Part 2 will have comparisons from the GX85, PEN-F and Sony A6300 with a more varied photo selection for test shots.

For now, take a look at the snaps below. You must click on them to see the correct version, and to see the 100% crop embedded in each. I also added the EXIF in each.

The way I do comparisons is to shoot the cameras how an owner would shoot them. If I shoot the Sony 50 at f/2, I want to shoot the Pana or Oly at f/2 as well as I want to see what each one gives at the same aperture. 

I let the cameras choose the exposure, as again, this is how 99% of users will use the cameras. I always like to compare in a way that is a “What you see is what you get” type of comparison as that is showing real world use, not hypotheticals.

So take a look at the shots. Only one was with the GX85 vs the Sony, the others were the Olympus PEN-F as I quickly noticed the GX85’s 1/4000s max shutter speed which did not bode well for shooting wide open (where I like to test lenses) in the morning sun. After I realized I could have set it to Electronic Shutter mode that increases it  to 1/16,000s, which is awesome.

A Simple Towel. The Sony using the $249 50 1.8 at f/4 looks as good as one could expect for a $250 lens 😉 


The GX85 with the 25 1.7 at f/4 (must click them to see them correctly)


Sunscreen – The Sony 50 1.8 shows its weakness wide open. Softness. But this is no $1200 lens.


The PEN-F with Panasonic 25 1.7 is sharper but still shows its “budget” heritage with some slight softness. Also see how the BOKEH is different? The DOF here will be larger at the same apertures due to the smaller sensor. To some this is a pro, to others a con. I think it can be a pro as sometimes with full frame and wide apertures we get some soft or out of focus shots. With Micro 4/3, this problem goes away but we lose some of the creamy Bokeh. 


My dog Baby doing what she does best. Laying down. The Sony here looks richer due to the full frame look and effect of a wide open lens. I let the cameras choose exposure by shooting in Aperture Priority mode and the Sony chose ISO 2500 and 1/125s. The PEN-F chose ISO 1600 and 1/60s. The color is much different as well with the Sony boosting it a tad and the PEN cooling it off a tad. Closest to reality though is the PEN-F. Both were shot RAW and are unedited. 



The Chair, a bokeh and DOF test as well as sharpness. Here the Sony looks great and the Panasonic lens shows some weakness in the 100% crop. Overall though, both do a decent job. Look at how much more blurred the Sony background is. BOTH exhibit CA.



Many have asked me what I think of the GX85 vs the PEN-F. Well, after only a day of messing with the GX85 and months of PEN-F use, I can not say just yet but I will say the GX85 is sleek, small, feels good and well made and has a soft quiet mechanical shutter.


The IQ is typical Panasonic which is rich, deep, crisp and lovely. The PEN-F, to me, is a beauty in all ways. The feel is more solid than the GX85, the body is a little longer and it has a pull out EVF that swings to the side, has more features (live time, and all of those great Oly features), also has 5 Axis inside and has a better bigger smoother EVF than the Panasonic. If these were the same price, I’d take the PEN-F 100% over the GX85. As it is now, the GX85 is under $800 with a kit zoom and the PEN-F is $1200 without any lens at all. That’s a $400 difference!


For me, Id still enjoy the PEN more as it has the features I love, the look I love and the premium feel I love. The EVF, to me is also much nicer. But if you are on a budget and $800 is tops, the GX85 seems to be a superb camera for that kind of money, especially with 5 Axis inside and the size/form factor. It’s like a baby GX8 but with the improved IS. I’d take it over a EM10II (which I also own).

Fans of Panasonic have a lot to be happy about though as so far, this appears to be a SOLID offering, this little GX85. The small lenses are so small and light as well, and they mimic the Olympus versions of the same lenses in size and style. Micro 4/3 is full steam ahead and this system has the most impressive line up of lenses with some real gems and jewels in there (Nocticron, Oly 75 1.8, Panasonic 25 1.4, Oly 7-14 Pro, Oly 40-150, Oly 12 f/2, Panasonic 15…and so many more.

Much more coming soon including Part 2 of this Comparison and my full review of the GX85 with various M 4/3 lenses.

Happy Friday!

Take a closer look at the GX85 at Amazon or B&H Photo 

Also, do not forget to check out the new BUY AND SELL FORUM HERE! All new!


  1. Hi Steve,
    Thank you for this comparison!
    Why not make it even more crazy. Compare the best mirrorless (mini versus big, 4/3 vs ff) with extreme glass.
    Em5mkII+7-14 vs SonyA7rII+16-35 (even better Nikon 14-24 0r Zeiss 15).
    I am an architect and an amateur photograph I have gm5 with 7-14 and would really like to see the difference.
    Or is that 2 crazy?

  2. As usual the M43 cameras look far better than the MP hounds would have you believe. And that is just with the older 16MP sensor.

  3. ” I’d take it over a EM10II (which I also own).”
    Hopefully you will expand on this thought in part II, Steve, as I see these two as keen rivals. Keep up the good work. Enjoy the Heat!

  4. Nice crazy comparison, thanks Steve. It would have been great to have the zebra pattern also with the Pen F. But fun stuff nonetheless. Keep it up.

  5. To me the most obvious difference is the color reproduction. The towel/cloth under your dog Baby is so different! It makes me very curious how the rest of this comparison will work out. This comparison is not crazy at all, but the color differences are. I am in the Olympus camp for the time being.

  6. Really looking forward to Part 2 and I hope you report on (i) the GX85’s ability to grab an 8 MP still from 4K. Being able to “catch the moment” sounds amazing but does it work?
    And (ii) this whole post focus thing…many of us, myself include, have captured properly exposed and composed frames that are deleted because the focus point was off.
    Keep up the GREAT work. 🙂

  7. Interesting. I suspect if you scale the A7Rmk2 image to the same size at the mFT the difference in sharpness is gone. In this case the price advantage of mFT isn’t there so its a question of shooting style (DoF and that last smidgen of IQ). Always fun Steve!

  8. Looking at the towels at 100% and seeing quite clearly how much more ‘micro’ (excuse the pun) detail there is in the sony vs the panasonic. And I’m wondering how much that has to do with the lens quality, or simply to do with the smaller sensor? If a better lens were used on the GX85 would it still be as marked a difference, or closer in iq ?

    • I think it has to do with image resolution only. The Sony image is bigger so more details are visible.

      • Do you mean the MP count / the number of pixels WxH and If they were the same size the difference wouldn’t be as noticeable ?

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