SONY A7sii vs. PANASONIC GH5: ASSIGNMENT MEXICO
When prepping Paloma’s Flight helmed by 5-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, Lee Stanley and starring martial arts phenom Amy Johnston, we had few options for cameras because our partners in Mexico had us on a tight schedule with a skeleton crew. Due to travel logistics, customs, and a host of other reasons, we needed to go the compact 4K/Ultra-HD route and our choice ultimately narrowed between the SONY A7sii and Panasonic Lumix GH5.
Both are leaders in their class and run mirrorless systems. Cinematographers from Europe I consulted favored the Panasonic while my fellow countrymen in the states leaned toward Sony. Our camera team, primarily from Mexico, was split so at the end of the day it was up to yours truly to ultimately decide. I hadn’t shot with compact HD cameras since my Dark Side days almost a decade before and wow, they have come light years since – literally. We tested both cameras during our scout and because the project included several low-light exterior night scenes, it was crystal clear which camera was better suited for the job. I chose the SONY simply because of its low light values which were a step above the Panasonic’s and enabled minimal noise and impressive sensitivity due to its 12MP full-frame sensor. This was especially important considering Paloma’s Flight had several action scenes in low, exterior light where we were often relying on either available light coming from nearby buildings or just headlights from a vehicle.
If low light exterior night scenes hadn’t been so prominent in the show, I would have chosen the Panasonic preferring its exterior daylight imagery as well as in naturally lit interior daylight scenes. In addition, the Panasonic’s images along the Baja coast were slightly superior but luckily at the end of the day, it’s almost impossible to take a bad shot next to the Sea of Cortez. I don’t think you can lose with either one, but before pulling the trigger on an expensive and ever so important filmmaking tool, think about what kind of projects you’re going to make moving forward and if possible, rent a few cameras if your schedule and budget allow at a place like lensrentals.com where you can do side-by-side comparisons and make an informed decision.