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Nikon D100 vs Panasonic L1

The Nikon D100 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2002 and February 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D100) and a Four Thirds (L1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 7.4 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D100
versus
Panasonic L1
Nikon D100   Panasonic L1
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
6 MP – APS-C sensor 7.4 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-800 (200 - 1,600) ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8" LCD – 118k dots 1.8" LCD – 207k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
370 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
144 x 116 x 81 mm, 780 g 146 x 87 x 64 mm, 606 g
Nikon D100:
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Panasonic L1:
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D100 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D100 and the Panasonic L1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D100 vs Panasonic L1
Compare D100 versus L1 top
Comparison D100 or L1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic L1 is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Nikon D100. Moreover, the L1 is markedly lighter (22 percent) than the D100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D100 nor the L1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D100) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (L1).

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
2.
 
Panasonic L1 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999i
3.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
4.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
5.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
6.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
8.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
9.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
10.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
11.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
12.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
13.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
14.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
15.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
16.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799i
17.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The L1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the D100, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D100 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic L1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the L1 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D100 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the L1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D100 and Panasonic L1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the L1 offers a higher resolution of 7.4 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D100. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.51μm versus 7.85μm for the D100). However, it should be noted that the L1 is much more recent (by 4 years) than the D100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Panasonic L1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the L1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 15.7 x 11.8 inches or 39.8 x 29.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 12.5 x 9.4 inches or 31.9 x 23.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 10.5 x 7.8 inches or 26.6 x 19.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D100 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 200-1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

D100 versus L1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.49.939448
2.
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.48052
3.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
4.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
5.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none21.010.612753
6.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
7.
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
8.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
9.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
10.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
11.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
12.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
13.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
14.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
15.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.47352
16.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.410.1-4048
17.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The L1 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The D100 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D100 and the L1 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the D100 has a higher magnification than the one of the L1 (0.53x vs 0.47x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D100, the Panasonic L1, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon D100optical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
2.
 
Panasonic L1optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
5.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
6.
 
Nikon D90optical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5/s Y n
7.
 
Nikon D300optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s Y n
8.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
9.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
11.
 
Nikon D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D200optical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
13.
 
Nikon D70optical n1.8 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
14.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0/s n n
15.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-300optical n1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
17.
 
Panasonic L10optical n2.5 / 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One feature that is present on the D100, but is missing on the L1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The D100 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the L1 uses SDHC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D100 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon D100Y- / ----1.1---
2.
 
Panasonic L1Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
4.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
5.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereo / mono---2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D90Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D300Y- / ---mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D70sY- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D200Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D70Y- / ----1.0---
14.
 
Nikon D1XY- / ----FW---
15.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-300Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic L10Y- / ----2.0---

Both the D100 and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D100 was replaced by the Nikon D200, while the L1 was followed by the Panasonic L10. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D100 or the Panasonic L1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D100:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.47x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (7.4 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (207k vs 118k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (146x87mm vs 144x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 174g or 22 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 370) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the D100 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the L1 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 3 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D100 03:09 L1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D100 and the Panasonic L1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D100 or the L1. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D100......+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
2.
 
Panasonic L1..85/100..+..3.5/5 Feb 2006 999i
3.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
4.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
5.
 
Leica Digilux 3............ Sep 2006 1,499i
6.
 
Nikon D90..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Nikon D300..+ +..+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
8.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
9.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
10.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
11.
 
Nikon D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899i
12.
 
Nikon D200..+ +..+ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
13.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999i
14.
 
Nikon D1X......+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
15.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999i
16.
 
Olympus E-300......+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
17.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100..+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D100:
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Panasonic L1:
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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Nikon D100 vs Panasonic L1

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D100 Panasonic L1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2002 February 2006
    Launch Price USD 1,999 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Nikon D100 Panasonic L1
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 7.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 3136 x 2352 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 5.51 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 800 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 200 - 1,600 ISO no Enhancement
    Screen Specs Nikon D100 Panasonic L1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.47x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 118k dots 207k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D100 Panasonic L1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D100 Panasonic L1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 1.1 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D100 Panasonic L1
    Battery Type EN-EL3 CGR-S602
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 144 x 116 x 81 mm
    (5.7 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
    146 x 87 x 64 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 780 g (27.5 oz) 606 g (21.4 oz)
    Nikon D100:
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    Panasonic L1:
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