Olympus E-1 versus Panasonic L1
The Olympus E-1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2003 and February 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 4.9 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 7.4 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Olympus E-1 vs Panasonic L1
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-1 and the Panasonic L1. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the E-1 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
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 (13 percent) than the Olympus E-1. Moreover, the L1 is markedly lighter (18 percent) than the E-1. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-1 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Olympus E-1»||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||26.0 oz||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699||-|
|Panasonic L1«||5.7 in||3.4 in||2.5 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||999||-|
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||5.7 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|Canon 60D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||-|
|Canon XT« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||19.0 oz||400||n||Feb 2005||899||-|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||5.7 in||3.4 in||3.0 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499||-|
|Nikon D500« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||30.3 oz||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon D610« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D7000« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||-|
|Olympus E-5« »||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.8 oz||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699||-|
|Olympus E-3« »||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.9 oz||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||-|
|Olympus E-330« »||5.5 in||3.4 in||2.8 in||22.5 oz||750||n||Jan 2006||999||-|
|Olympus E-300« »||5.8 in||3.3 in||2.5 in||22.0 oz||750||n||Sep 2004||799||-|
|Panasonic L10« »||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599||-|
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 41 percent) than the E-1, 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.
Sensor comparison: Olympus E-1 vs Panasonic L1
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the L1 offers a higher resolution of 7.4 megapixel, compared with 4.9 MP of the E-1. This megapixel advantage translates into a 23 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the L1 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.51μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1). However, it should be noted that the L1 is much more recent (by 2 years and 8 months) than the E-1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus E-1»||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||-||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic L1«||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-|
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|Canon 60D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66|
|Canon XT« »||APS-C||8.0||3456||2304||-||21.8||10.8||637||60|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-|
|Nikon D500« »||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83|
|Nikon D610« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon D7000« »||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||10800/24p||23.5||13.9||1167||80|
|Olympus E-5« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|Olympus E-3« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|Olympus E-330« »||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-300« »||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||-||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic L10« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Feature comparison: Olympus E-1 vs Panasonic L1
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-1 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-1 and Panasonic L1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||6.5||n||n|
|Canon 60D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||n||8000||5.3||Y||n|
|Canon XT« »||optical||n||1.8||115||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D500« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||n|
|Nikon D610« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||4000||6.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D7000« »||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||8000||6.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-5« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||swivel||n||8000||5.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-3« »||optical||Y||2.5||230||swivel||n||8000||5.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-330« »||optical||n||2.5||215||tilting||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-300« »||optical||n||1.8||134||fixed||n||4000||2.5||Y||n|
|Panasonic L10« »||optical||n||2.5||207||swivel||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
Both the E-1 and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-1 was replaced by the Olympus E-3, while the L1 was followed by the Panasonic L10.
Review summary: Olympus E-1 vs Panasonic L1
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-1 or the Panasonic L1 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-1:
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2003).
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (7.4 vs 4.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 23%.
- 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 134k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (146x87mm vs 141x104mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 132g or 18 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 (41 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 8 months of technical progress since the E-1 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the L1 is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-1 or the L1 handle or perform in practice. 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. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Olympus E-1»||-||Rec||rev||rev||-||Jun 2003||1,699||-|
|Panasonic L1«||85/100||Rec||-||rev||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999||-|
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||Rec||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|Canon 60D« »||Rec||79/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399||-|
|Canon XT« »||80/100||HiRec||rev||rev||-||Feb 2005||899||-|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||-||-||-||-||-||Sep 2006||1,499||-|
|Nikon D500« »||HiRec||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon D610« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D7000« »||-||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499||-|
|Olympus E-5« »||-||75/100||4/5||-||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699||-|
|Olympus E-3« »||88/100||HiRec||rev||rev||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699||-|
|Olympus E-330« »||-||Rec||rev||3.5/5||-||Jan 2006||999||-|
|Olympus E-300« »||-||Rec||rev||rev||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799||-|
|Panasonic L10« »||85/100||Rec||3.5/5||rev||4/5||Aug 2007||599||-|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
- Canon 1Ds vs Pentax KP
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 1D X Mark II
- Canon M100 vs Canon SL2
- Canon SL1 vs Sony A7 II
- Canon T7 vs Nikon D5500
- Hasselblad X1D vs Nikon D300S
- Nikon D700 vs Panasonic GX8
- Nikon D7000 vs Panasonic GX9
- Olympus E-1 vs YI M1
- Panasonic FT7 vs Leica TL
- Pentax Q vs Canon G9 X
- Sony A7 vs Leica TL