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Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-300

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2006 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 7.4 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 8 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.


Headline Specifications
Panasonic L1   Olympus E-300
Panasonic L1 Olympus E-300
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
7.4 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1600 ISO 100-400 (100-1600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5" LCD, 207k dots 1.8" LCD, 134k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
750 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
146 x 87 x 64 mm, 606 g 147 x 85 x 64 mm, 624 g

Body comparison: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-300

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic L1 and the Olympus E-300 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 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 L1 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Panasonic L1 and Olympus E-300
Compare L1 versus E-300 top
Compare L1 or E-300 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-300 is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Panasonic L1. However, the E-300 is slightly heavier (3 percent) than the L1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the L1 nor the E-300 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1» 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1
Olympus E-300« 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« » 5.6 in 3.4 in 5.6 in 25.9 oz 360 n Sep 2006 849- i Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 500 n Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-400« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Sep 2006 699- i Olympus E-400
Olympus E-500« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-1« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10

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 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-300

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.

Panasonic L1 and Olympus E-300 sensor measures

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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600 The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus Evolt E-300 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600..

L1 versus E-300 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1» Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Panasonic L1
Olympus E-300« Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-300
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon XT
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« » 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p----Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950Nikon D70s
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Olympus E-330
Olympus E-400« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-----Olympus E-400
Olympus E-500« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-500
Olympus E-1« » Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920-----Olympus E-1
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955Panasonic L10
The L1 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The E-300 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-300

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The L1 and the E-300 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 Panasonic L1 and Olympus E-300 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1»optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L1
Olympus E-300«optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-300
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XT
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« »235 n 2.0 207 swivel n 2000 2.0 Y Y Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« »optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 8000 3.0 Y n Nikon D70s
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-330
Olympus E-400« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-400
Olympus E-500« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-500
Olympus E-1« »optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n Olympus E-1
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L10

The L1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-300 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture 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.

Connectivity comparison: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-300

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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and Olympus Evolt E-300 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1»Y-----2.0---Panasonic L1
Olympus E-300«Y-----2.0---Olympus E-300
Canon XT« »Y-----2.0---Canon XT
Canon Rebel« »Y-----1.1---Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« »Ystereomono---2.0---Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« »Ymonomono---2.0---Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D70s
Olympus E-330« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-330
Olympus E-400« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-400
Olympus E-500« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-500
Olympus E-1« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-1
Panasonic L10« »Y-----2.0---Panasonic L10

Both the L1 and the E-300 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.


Review summary: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-300

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic L1 or the Olympus E-300 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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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: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 4 months after the E-300).

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Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2004).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the L1 comes out slightly ahead of the E-300 (4 : 3 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.

L1 04:03 E-300

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the L1 or the E-300. 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.

Expert reviews: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-300

This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1»85/100Rec-rev3.5/5 Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1
Olympus E-300«-Recrevrev4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon Rebel« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« »----- Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« »----- Sep 2006 849- i Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« »---rev5/5 Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-400« »85/100-4/5-4/5 Sep 2006 699- i Olympus E-400
Olympus E-500« »76/100HiRec--- Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-1« »-Recrevrev- Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-300

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Panasonic L1 Olympus E-300
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2006 September 2004
    Launch Price USD 999 USD 799
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 2.0 2.0
    Sensor Resolution 7.4 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3136 x 2352 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.51 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-1600 ISO 100-400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100-1600 ISO
    Image Processor Venus TruePic
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Rear LCD Size 2.5 inch 1.8 inch
    LCD Resolution 207k dots 134k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards CF or XD cards
    Connectivity Specs
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Battery Type CGR-S602 power pack BLM-1 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 87 x 64 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
    147 x 85 x 64 mm
    (5.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 606 g (21.4 oz) 624 g (22.0 oz)

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