Olympus E-5 vs Panasonic L1
The Olympus E-5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2010 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 12.2 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-5||Panasonic L1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||7.4 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|720/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-6400||ISO 100-1600|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 920k dots||2.5" LCD, 207k dots|
|Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
|750 shots per battery charge||750 shots per battery charge|
|142 x 117 x 75 mm, 873 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-5 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-5 and the Panasonic L1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear 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 smaller (24 percent) than the Olympus E-5. Moreover, the L1 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the E-5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-5 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 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 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.
|Olympus E-5»||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699||Olympus E-5|
|Panasonic L1«||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||999||Panasonic L1|
|Canon 60D« »||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||Canon 60D|
|Canon 350D« »||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899||Canon 350D|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499||Leica Digilux 3|
|Olympus E-P3« »||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-450« »||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-600« »||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620« »||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-3« »||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-330« »||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300« »||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10« »||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599||Panasonic L10|
|Sony A77« »||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||Sony A77|
|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 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 41 percent) than the E-5, 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 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-5 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the L1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 29 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-5 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 5.51μm for the L1). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-5 is much more recent (by 4 years and 6 months) 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-5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inch or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inch or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inch or 34.1 x 25.6 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-5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56||Olympus E-5|
|Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..||Panasonic L1|
|Canon 60D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66||Canon 60D|
|Canon 350D||APS-C||8.0||3456||2304||none||21.8||10.8||637||60||Canon 350D|
|Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..||Leica Digilux 3|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PM1|
|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-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-330|
|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|
|Sony A77||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.2||801||78||Sony A77|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-5 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the L1 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-5 can use is 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The E-5 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 E-5 offers a wider field of view (100%) 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 E-5 has a higher magnification (0.575x 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-5, the Panasonic L1, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-5||optical||Y||3.0||920||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-5|
|Panasonic L1||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic L1|
|Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3||Y||n||Canon 60D|
|Canon 350D||optical||n||1.8||115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 350D|
|Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Leica Digilux 3|
|Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0||614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PM1|
|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-3||optical||Y||2.5||230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5||215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-330|
|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|
|Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0||921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y||Sony A77|
One feature that is present on the E-5, 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 E-5 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the L1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The E-5 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the L1 uses SDHC cards. The E-5 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-5 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus E-5||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-5|
|Panasonic L1||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L1|
|Canon 60D||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 60D|
|Canon 350D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 350D|
|Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica Digilux 3|
|Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|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-3||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-330||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L10|
|Sony A77||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A77|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-5 (unlike the L1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-5 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-5 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? Is the Olympus E-5 better than the Panasonic L1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 7.4MP) with a 29% higher linear resolution.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/30p movies.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.575x vs 0.47x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 207k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 6 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- More compact: Is smaller (146x87mm vs 142x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 267g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (41 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2006).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-5 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 4 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-5 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-5 or the L1 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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.
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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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.
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Olympus E-5
- Canon G1 X Mark III vs Olympus E-5
- Canon SX50 vs Panasonic L1
- Fujifilm X-T100 vs Olympus E-5
- Nikon D3200 vs Panasonic L1
- Olympus E-5 vs Sony A7S
- Olympus E-5 vs Sony NEX-3
- Olympus E-5 vs Sony NEX-5R
- Panasonic L1 vs Panasonic TZ95
- Panasonic L1 vs Pentax KP
- Panasonic L1 vs Sony HX80
- Panasonic L1 vs Sony NEX-3N
Specifications: Olympus E-5 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-5||Panasonic L1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2010||February 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 1699||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-5||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||12.2 Megapixels||7.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||3136 x 2352 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||5.51 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100-6400 ISO||100-1600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic V+||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.6||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.5||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||519||..|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-5||Panasonic L1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||2.5 inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||207k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-5||Panasonic L1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|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-5||Panasonic L1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-5||Panasonic L1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
142 x 117 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
146 x 87 x 64 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||873 g (30.8 oz)||606 g (21.4 oz)|
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