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Nikon D1H vs Panasonic L1

The Nikon D1H and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2001 and February 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D1H) and a Four Thirds (L1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 2.6 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 D1H versus Panasonic L1
Nikon D1H Panasonic L1
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
2.6 MP, APS-C Sensor 7.4 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-800 (200 - 3,200) ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 120k dots 2.5 LCD, 207k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
1200 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
157 x 153 x 85 mm, 1100 g 146 x 87 x 64 mm, 606 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D1H 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D1H and the Panasonic L1. 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 D1H vs Panasonic L1
Compare D1H versus L1 top
Comparison D1H 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 considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Nikon D1H. Moreover, the L1 is substantially lighter (45 percent) than the D1H. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D1H is splash and dust resistant, while the L1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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 (D1H) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (L1).

As can be seen in the images above, the D1H has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 D1H 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499i
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.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
5.
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
6.
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
7.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
8.
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
9.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
10.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
11.
 
Nikon D2X 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999i
12.
 
Nikon D2H 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1070 g 2900 Y Jul 2003 3,499i
13.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
14.
 
Nikon D1 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g .. Y Jun 1999 5,499i
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
Notes: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The L1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 78 percent) than the D1H, 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D1H 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 D1H has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the L1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D1H and Panasonic L1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the L1 offers a higher resolution of 7.4 megapixels, compared with 2.6 MP of the D1H. 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 11.93μm for the D1H). However, it should be noted that the L1 is much more recent (by 5 years) than the D1H, 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 D1H are 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.7 cm for good quality, 8 x 5.2 inches or 20.3 x 13.3 cm for very good quality, and 6.7 x 4.4 inches or 16.9 x 11.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D1H has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 200-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

D1H versus L1 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. 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 D1H APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
2.
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
3.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
4.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
5.
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
6.
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
7.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
8.
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
9.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
10.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
11.
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
12.
 
Nikon D2H APS-C 4.0 2464 1632none18.910.035240
13.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
14.
 
Nikon D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
15.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
16.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
17.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
The L1 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The D1H lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D1H 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 viewfinder in the D1H offers a wider field of view (96%) than the one in the L1 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D1H has a higher magnification (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 D1H, the Panasonic L1, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon D1Hoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 5.0 n n
2.
 
Panasonic L1optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon XToptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
5.
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
6.
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
7.
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
8.
 
Nikon D300optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
10.
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
12.
 
Nikon D2Hoptical Y 2.5 211 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 n n
13.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
14.
 
Nikon D1optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5 n n
15.
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
17.
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the D1H, 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 D1H writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the L1 uses SDHC cards.

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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 D1H 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon D1HY-----FW---
2.
 
Panasonic L1Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon XTY-----2.0---
4.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereomono---2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D300Y----mini2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D2XsY-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D2XY-----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D2HY-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
14.
 
Nikon D1Y-----FW---
15.
 
Olympus E-330Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-300Y-----2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D1H (unlike the L1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the D1H and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1H was replaced by the Nikon D2H, 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 what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D1H and the Panasonic L1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D1H:

  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (96% vs 95%).
  • 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.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2001).

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (7.4 vs 2.6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 64%.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (207k vs 120k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (146x87mm vs 157x153mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 494g or 45 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (78 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years of technical progress since the D1H launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D1H emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 8 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D1H 10:08 L1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D1H 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D1H or the L1 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D1H....+ +.... Feb 2001 4,499i
2.
 
Panasonic L1..85/100+..3.5/5 Feb 2006 999i
3.
 
Canon XT..80/100+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
4.
 
Leica Digilux 3.......... Sep 2006 1,499i
5.
 
Nikon D3S5/5..89/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
6.
 
Nikon D300S5/5+ +82/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799i
7.
 
Nikon D3....+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
8.
 
Nikon D300..+ ++ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
9.
 
Nikon D2Xs.......... Jun 2006 4,699i
10.
 
Nikon D200..+ ++ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
11.
 
Nikon D2X....+ +.... Sep 2004 4,999i
12.
 
Nikon D2H....+ +.... Jul 2003 3,499i
13.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
14.
 
Nikon D1....+ +.... Jun 1999 5,499i
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.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Nikon D1H:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic L1:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Nikon D1H 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 D1H Panasonic L1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2001 February 2006
    Launch Price USD 4,499 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Nikon D1H 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 2.6 Megapixels 7.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 2000 x 1312 pixels 3136 x 2352 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.93 μm 5.51 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 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 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Screen Specs Nikon D1H Panasonic L1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.47x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 207k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D1H Panasonic L1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D1H Panasonic L1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D1H Panasonic L1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type EN-4 CGR-S602
    Battery Life (CIPA)1200 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 157 x 153 x 85 mm
    (6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
    146 x 87 x 64 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 1100 g (38.8 oz) 606 g (21.4 oz)

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