Olympus E-300 vs Panasonic L1
The Olympus Evolt E-300 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2004 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 8 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus Evolt E-300 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.
The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-300 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 views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic L1 is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Olympus E-300. However, the L1 is slightly lighter (3 percent) than the E-300. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-300 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic L1||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899||ebay.com|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The E-300 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the L1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.
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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and 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 E-300 offers a slightly higher resolution of 8 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the L1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 4 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-300 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.30μm versus 5.51μm for the L1). Moreover, it should be noted that the L1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the E-300, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.
The Olympus Evolt E-300 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 400, which can be extended to ISO 100-1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
In terms of underlying technology, the E-300 is build around a CCD sensor, while the L1 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
|1.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.4||10.1||-40||48|
|2.||Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||20.8||10.4||80||52|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|5.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|6.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|7.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|8.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|9.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||20.8||10.4||73||52|
|10.||Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|11.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.7||10.3||45||51|
|12.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||20.0||9.7||-145||44|
|13.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-300 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 E-300 has a higher magnification than the one of the L1 (0.5x 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 Olympus E-300, the Panasonic L1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|2.||Panasonic L1||optical||n||2.5 / 207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon XT||optical||n||1.8 / 115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5 / 207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Olympus E-620||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Olympus E-510||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5 / 215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Olympus E-500||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|12.||Olympus E-1||optical||Y||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 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.|
The E-300 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the L1 uses SDHC cards. The E-300 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the L1 only has one slot.
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 Olympus Evolt E-300 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-300||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Panasonic L1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon XT||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-620||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-520||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-410||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-510||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-330||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-400||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-500||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the E-300 and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-300 was replaced by the Olympus E-330, while the L1 was followed by the Panasonic L10. Further information on the features and operation of the E-300 and L1 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-300 Manual (free pdf) or the online Panasonic L1 Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-300 and the Panasonic L1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus Evolt E-300:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.5x vs 0.47x).
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2004).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- 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).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 4 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (4 points each). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-300 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-300 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.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.
|1.||Olympus E-300||..||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic L1||..||85/100||..||+||..||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon XT||..||80/100||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899||ebay.com|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||..||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-330||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-400||..||85/100||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-500||..||76/100||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2005||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-1||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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.
- Canon 60D vs Olympus E-300
- Canon SX620 vs Panasonic L1
- Canon T6s vs Olympus E-300
- Leica S Typ 006 vs Panasonic L1
- Leica X2 vs Olympus E-300
- Nikon D200 vs Olympus E-300
- Nikon D3300 vs Panasonic L1
- Nikon D3500 vs Olympus E-300
- Olympus E-300 vs Panasonic S1R
- Olympus E-510 vs Panasonic L1
- Panasonic L1 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Panasonic L1 vs Sony RX100 VI
Specifications: Olympus E-300 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 Model||Olympus E-300||Panasonic L1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2004||February 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-300||Panasonic L1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8 Megapixels||7.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3264 x 2448 pixels||3136 x 2352 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.30 μm||5.51 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.55 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 400 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 1,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-300||Panasonic L1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||134k dots||207k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-300||Panasonic L1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||SDHC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-300||Panasonic L1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-300||Panasonic L1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
147 x 85 x 64 mm
(5.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 in)
146 x 87 x 64 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||624 g (22.0 oz)||606 g (21.4 oz)|
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