Olympus E-420 vs Panasonic L1
The Olympus E-420 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2008 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 10 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.
|Olympus E-420||Panasonic L1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||7.4 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|no Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-1600||ISO 100-1600|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.7" LCD, 215k dots||2.5" LCD, 207k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.5 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|500 shots per battery charge||750 shots per battery charge|
|130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g||146 x 87 x 64 mm, 606 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-420 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-420 and the Panasonic L1 is provided 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 notably larger (7 percent) than the Olympus E-420. Moreover, the L1 is substantially heavier (38 percent) than the E-420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-420 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Olympus E-420»||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2008||599||Olympus E-420|
|Panasonic L1«||5.7 in||3.4 in||2.5 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||999||Panasonic L1|
|Canon XT« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||19.0 oz||400||n||Feb 2005||899||Canon XT|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||5.7 in||3.4 in||3.0 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499||Leica Digilux 3|
|Nikon D3000« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D60« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||629||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D40X« »||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus E-450« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2009||499||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Aug 2009||449||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2009||699||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-520« »||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||18.9 oz||750||n||May 2008||699||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Mar 2007||699||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-330« »||5.5 in||3.4 in||2.8 in||22.5 oz||750||n||Jan 2006||999||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-400« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Sep 2006||699||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-300« »||5.8 in||3.3 in||2.5 in||22.0 oz||750||n||Sep 2004||799||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10« »||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599||Panasonic L10|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-420 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the L1, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
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. 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 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.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-420 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the L1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 16 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-420 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.74μm versus 5.51μm for the L1). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-420 is much more recent (by 2 years) than the L1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-420 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-420 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inch or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inch or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inch or 30.9 x 23.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic L1 are 15.7 x 11.8 inch or 39.8 x 29.9 cm for good quality, 12.5 x 9.4 inch or 31.9 x 23.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.5 x 7.8 inch or 26.6 x 19.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus E-420 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 offers exactly the same ISO settings.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56||Olympus E-420|
|Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..||Panasonic L1|
|Canon XT||APS-C||8.0||3456||2304||none||21.8||10.8||637||60||Canon XT|
|Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..||Leica Digilux 3|
|Nikon D3000||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.3||11.1||563||62||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D60||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.5||11.4||562||65||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D40X||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.4||11.4||516||63||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55||Panasonic L10|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-420 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 L1 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-420 (0.47x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-420 and Panasonic L1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-420|
|Panasonic L1||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic L1|
|Canon XT||optical||n||1.8||115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XT|
|Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Leica Digilux 3|
|Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600||optical||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620||optical||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||Y||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5||215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8||134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5||207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic L10|
The E-420 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the L1 uses SDHC cards. The E-420 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 E-420 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus E-420||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-420|
|Panasonic L1||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L1|
|Canon XT||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XT|
|Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica Digilux 3|
|Nikon D3000||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D60||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D40X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus E-450||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-520||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-330||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-400||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-300||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L10|
Both the E-420 and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The L1 was replaced by the Panasonic L10, while the E-420 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-420 or the Panasonic L1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-420:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (10 vs 7.4MP) with a 16% higher linear resolution.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 166g or 27 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- 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 category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the L1 launch.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.47x vs 0.46x).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2006).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-420 is the clear winner of the match-up (7 : 3 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-420 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-420 and the L1 in practical situations. 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
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.
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 your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 10D vs Olympus E-420
- Canon 4000D vs Panasonic L1
- Canon M100 vs Panasonic L1
- Canon S120 vs Olympus E-420
- Fujifilm X-T100 vs Panasonic L1
- Leica M Typ 240 vs Panasonic L1
- Nikon D7100 vs Panasonic L1
- Nikon D850 vs Panasonic L1
- Olympus E-420 vs Olympus E-M1X
- Panasonic GX7 vs Panasonic L1
- Panasonic L1 vs Sony A7R IV
- Panasonic L1 vs Sony NEX-3
Specifications: Olympus E-420 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-420||Panasonic L1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2008||February 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-420||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||10 Megapixels||7.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||3136 x 2352 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||5.51 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100-1600 ISO||100-1600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic III||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||527||..|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-420||Panasonic L1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7 inch||2.5 inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||207k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-420||Panasonic L1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-420||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-420||Panasonic L1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
130 x 91 x 53 mm
(5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
146 x 87 x 64 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||440 g (15.5 oz)||606 g (21.4 oz)|
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