Olympus E-M1 III vs Panasonic L1
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2020 and February 2006. The E-M1 III is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the L1 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 20.2 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III 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-M1 III 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 perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions 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 (4 percent) than the Olympus E-M1 III. Moreover, the L1 is slightly heavier (4 percent) than the E-M1 III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M1 III 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M1 III) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (L1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Olympus E-M1 III, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.
The power pack in the E-M1 III can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-M1 III||134 mm||91 mm||69 mm||580 g||420||Y||Feb 2020||1,799|
|2.||Panasonic L1||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||999|
|3.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 IV||122 mm||84 mm||49 mm||383 g||360||n||Aug 2020||699|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||144 mm||147 mm||75 mm||997 g||870||Y||Jan 2019||2,999|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|9.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|10.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|11.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|12.||Panasonic G95||130 mm||94 mm||77 mm||536 g||290||Y||Apr 2019||999|
|13.||Panasonic G9||137 mm||97 mm||92 mm||658 g||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699|
|14.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|15.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|16.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|17.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 44 percent) than the E-M1 III, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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-M1 III offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the L1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 65 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-M1 III has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 5.51μm for the L1). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-M1 III is much more recent (by 13 years and 11 months) than the L1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 III has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-M1 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-M1 III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic L1 are 15.7 x 11.8 inches or 39.8 x 29.9 cm for good quality, 12.5 x 9.4 inches or 31.9 x 23.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.5 x 7.8 inches or 26.6 x 19.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The E-M1 III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the L1, the E-M1 III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (80MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 64-25600. 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-M1 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 IV||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|9.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|10.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Panasonic G95||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Panasonic G9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|15.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|16.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|17.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-M1 III indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the L1 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-M1 III can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M1 III has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the L1 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the E-M1 III 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-M1 III has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.47x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-M1 III and Panasonic L1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-M1 III||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 IV||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||15.0||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the E-M1 III and the L1 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-M1 III reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the L1 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The E-M1 III 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 reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the E-M1 III is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus E-M1 III has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The E-M1 III writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the L1 uses SDHC cards. The E-M1 III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the L1 only has one slot. The E-M1 III supports UHS-II cards on its first slot and UHS-I on its second one, while the L1 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 OM-D E-M1 Mark III and Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Olympus E-M1 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 IV||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M1 III offers wifi support, while the L1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M1 III (unlike the L1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The E-M1 III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Olympus. In contrast, the L1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the L1 was succeeded 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 Olympus and Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-M1 III 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 OM-D E-M1 Mark III:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 7.4MP) with a 65% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 4K/30p movies.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (0.74x vs 0.47x).
- 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 (1037k vs 207k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- 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 (18 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II and UHS-I) SDXC cards.
- More modern: Reflects 13 years and 11 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 420) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (44 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-M1 III is the clear winner of the match-up (28 : 6 points). 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-M1 III and the Panasonic L1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-M1 III or the L1. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts 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], 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-M1 III||5/5||..||83/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2020||1,799|
|2.||Panasonic L1||..||85/100||+||..||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999|
|3.||Canon XT||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|4.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|5.||Olympus E-M10 IV||4.5/5||..||81/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2020||699|
|6.||Olympus E-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||4.5/5||o||..||4.5/5||..||Jan 2019||2,999|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|9.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|10.||Olympus E-330||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|11.||Olympus E-300||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|12.||Panasonic G95||4.5/5||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2019||999|
|13.||Panasonic G9||..||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699|
|14.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|15.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|16.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|17.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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.
Specifications: Olympus E-M1 III 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-M1 III||Panasonic L1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2020||February 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||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||20.2 Megapixels||7.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||3136 x 2352 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.34 μm||5.51 μm|
|Pixel Density||8.96 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||64 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePic IX||Venus|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||Panasonic L1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||207k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||Panasonic L1|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||18 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/32000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||Single UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||Panasonic L1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M1 III||Panasonic L1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||420 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
134 x 91 x 69 mm
(5.3 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
146 x 87 x 64 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||580 g (20.5 oz)||606 g (21.4 oz)|
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